Friday, October 2, 2009

Air Filtering Plants to Beautify and Clean Your Home Environment

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© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009

Foyer Garden
Has Many Air Filtering Plants

Purifying your air does not always mean spending hundreds on ionic air cleaning machines for every room in your house. Think green and you'll get your answer here: many house plants have the ability to filter and clean the air in your inside environment. Plant Care's site has a nice description of the top-performing plants and a brief touch on the research done by NASA research scientist, Dr. Bill Wolverton, to teach us some of the many values of houseplants.

According to their sources, plants are "a sophisticated pollution-absorbing device; the common indoor plant may provide a natural way of helping combat "Sick Building Syndrome".

Plant Care Recommends these Top Performers:
  1. Bamboo Palm
  2. Chinese Evergreen
  3. English Ivy
  4. Gerbera Daisy
  5. Janet Craig (Dracaena family)
  6. Marginata (Dracaena family)
  7. Corn Plant
  8. Mother in Laws Tongue (Sansevieria Laurentii)
  9. Pot Mum
  10. Peace Lily
  11. Warnecki (Dracaena family)
  12. Golden Pothos
I've been testing some of these myself and thought perhaps you'd like to see the results of my less-than-scientific investigation--for what it's worth: First, let me clarify, that my environment here in Central Florida's humidity capital of the world, may differ from your own. Keep that in mind.

First, allow me to mention that the Golden Pothos was added to the above list by me, when I discovered that Dr. Wolverton found it to have superior ability to absorb Formaldehyde from its environment, along with philodendrons and spider plants. These all do fairly well indoors, yet the Pothos is easiest to care for and requires little light.

Working from the above list, the clear winner in my home-test for the easiest-to-grow, indoor plant is the Peace Lily or Spathiphylium (I've found it spelled several ways--you pick!). It seems to require only water to survive and bloom bountifully twice a year, and the ones I have managed to kill were either under- or over-watered.

While the Chinese Evergreen has spectacularly beautiful fluffy foliage, it apparently needed much more humidity than my indoor foyer provided. However, after I planted the suffering specimens in my outdoor, covered porch garden, they began to thrive. Second place in hardiness went to the Corn Plant, which requires less water than the Peace Lily. Of the 10 floor plants in my foyer garden (photo above), currently 5 are Peace Lilies (various types) and 1 is a corn plant.

Pothos plants placed in my bathrooms have been exceptionally well and seem to love the humidity they receive from shower steam. Perhaps I should have tried the Chinese Evergreen there.

My luck with the other flowering plants, even when placed in southern windows was less than satisfactory, although I was eager to have it work. Dr. Wolverton's research also found that flowering plants on this list were the best at filtering Benzene from the air, a feat I was keen to accomplish.

The plants in the Dracaena family were all utter failures in my home, lasting only a few months and then losing their long, thin leaves. Ivy survived only when misted vigorously and watered rigidly on a schedule. I found it beautiful, yet too much work to keep alive. Perhaps some of you will have time to help these elegant plants to reach their potential.

Unable to find a small Bamboo Palm or Mother in Laws Tongue, forgive me if I cannot give you my own assessment of these two. Let me know your results with these, as indoor plants. I'll admit I did not find ANY of the latter, and am eager to know what this cleverly-named plant looks like.

While maintaining indoor houseplants does require a bit of maintenance, a cup or two of water once a week usually will do it. Some may require extra humidity that you can provide with a daily misting from a spray bottle. But think of the added beauty they provide, giving you the feel of a tropical forest when you create a small garden area in larger rooms.

Bedrooms and bathrooms may only handle one floor plant or a small counter top model, but the effect is similar. There is something healthy about lush greenery, alive and growing.

I'm adding Dr. Wolverton's book to my Wish List. What a great resource to know which houseplants to look for. You can buy it right here, if you like. Five minutes and it will be on its way to your mailbox. Ya gotta love Amazon!

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