The winter months still upon us, it’s easy for your green thumb to grow restless with lack of time spent outdoors. Lucky for you (and your green thumb), investing on some landscape inside the home is an excellent way to pass those long, dreary winter days and—as if you need any added bonus to get excited about plants—can actually provide cleaner air quality within your residence.
The air we breathe inside our home can be just as toxic—if not more—than the air outside. At first glance that might be rather hard to believe, considering all the pollutants floating around that are given off by cars, corporate plants, and more. But inside our homes we have more toxins than you might realize. Detergents, chemical cleaners, carpets, and even the air fresheners we use to shoo out the bad odors can be doing more harm than good if not properly dealt with.
So what’s in your air?
In the late 1980’s, NASA did a study on indoor plants and their ability to rid of toxins and other pollutants from homes and other indoor facilities. It has since been discovered that certain plants can eliminate carbon dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and a dozen other toxins in the home—all chemicals that can become problematic after a certain level is reached and are hazardous to overall wellbeing in general.
Carbon dioxide is a natural part of earth’s atmosphere, but can accumulate in indoor environments such as houses, offices, and other residences
Appliances such as stoves, clothes dryers, and heaters can all contribute to an increase in carbon dioxide in the air. Excess amounts of carbon dioxide in the home can result in decreased levels of oxygen in the body, leading to fatigue, headaches, and breathing problems.
Formaldehyde—you know, that stuff that preserves dead bodies—can also be found in abundance inside your home. Common causes of formaldehyde in the air include burning wood or gas, cigarettes, paints, drywall, carpeting, and a variety of wood products in the home, such as plywood. Too much of this toxin can lead to some killer headaches and worse.
Similarly, trichloroethylene, a clear, colorless chemical, can also be present in household products and appliances such as the dry cleaner, paints, spot removers, and cleaning chemicals. High levels of trichloroethylene in the air can lead to serious health conditions ranging from liver toxicity to various types of cancer.
Last, but certainly not least, benzene is another quiet giant among inside toxins. Found in gasoline, plastics, detergents, pesticides and more, this chemical can easily creep its way inside your home and fill your lungs with unhealthy air. Side effects of excess benzene exposure include dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. Purify your air by putting your green thumb to work!
Before you give up the residential lifestyle and move into a treehouse in the jungle, it’s important to understand that there is a solution to those nasty inside air toxins—plants! We have compiled a list of indoor plants that not only brighten up those dreary winter days, but also work as vacuums when it comes to getting rid of household pollutants.
Long hailed for its healing properties, the Aloe Vera plant is also great for removing formaldehyde from your home. Aloe Vera is extremely easy to care for, simply requiring sunlight and occasional watering.
Also praised for its ability to eliminate formaldehyde, the Bamboo Palm is a lush plant that will give your home a tropical feeling. This palm variety needs very little light to grow and reaches between 4 to 12 feet in height in maturity. Simply water the plant when the soil feels dry and voila! You now have a little piece of paradise (and cleaner air) right inside your very own home.
Hailed as one of the most popular fern cultivars on the market, this plant is perfect for indoor growing during the winter months. Considering that the Boston Fern is native to the rainforest, the more humidity the better for this tropical plant! Be sure to keep this fern’s soil moist, or it will begin to lose its radiant, green color. The Boston Fern is wonderful at eliminating formaldehyde within the household, and if planted outside will rid the soil of a variety of heavy metals.
This bright and beautiful bloom will not only brighten up your home but will also aid in removing that nasty toxin benzene from your air. Growing mums indoors is quite easy—just keep in mind that too much light can cause them to stop blooming, so place your mums in a location that receives natural light during the day and no artificial light at night. Natural sunlight and some regular watering should keep your mums in tip-top shape!
This beautiful, almost fake-looking plant is so easy to grow a five-year-old could do it (family time, anyone?)! With a little bit of sunlight and weekly watering, the Peace Lily will be sucking up all the benzene and acetone in your air in no time!
In the NASA research study we mentioned earlier, the Spider Plant took the lead in removing the toxin formaldehyde from inside air in the shortest amount of time. And this cultivar is so easy to grow, you’ll wonder why you didn’t jump on the Spider Plant bandwagon earlier! Simply place the Spider Plant in a moderately sunny area, water occasionally, and sit back and watch all those nasty toxins bite the dust.
If the cold winter weather has really got you missing your beautiful, blooming trees, the Weeping Fig is here to save your day—and your air! While it might not grow to reach 20 feet like your beloved evergreens, it’s an inside tree that is both fun and an aesthetic addition to your home. Place the Weeping Fig where it will receive a daily dose of sunlight and water regularly—but not too much—to keep this formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia-buster happily flourishing.
With these beautiful plants you can breathe easy and know that your air is cleaner. You can also check out Positive Health Wellness for additional plants that can improve your air quality! Your lungs-and your home-will thank you!