We are all surrounded by a variety of man-made products, many of which “off-gas” pollutants. And, in an unfortunate twist, the more energy efficient we make our homes, the more we need to be aware of trapping these gasses in our homes.
NASA to the rescue:
NASA identified indoor air pollution problems associated with sealed space habitats way back in the early 70’s. One answer; indoor plants!
Yup, that’s right. Indoor pants. Check out the indoor plants, or house plants NASA has identified and their toxin filtering abilities in the “NASA guide to indoor plants” guide (guide and graphics provided by www.lovethegarden.com)
But wait, there’s more! Indoor plants can:
- reduce cold-related symptoms by as much as 40%, found Prof. Tove Fjeld at Norway’s University of Agriculture. Fewer coughs and sore throats, less fatigue – what’s not to like?
- help post-surgical patients recover faster, with less pain, less pain medication, less anxiety and fatigue and reduced blood pressure and heart rate. They’re happier, more satisfied patients, according to a study by Seong-Hyun Park and Richard H. Mattson, Kansas State University researchers in its Department of Horticulture Recreation and Forestry.
- improve wellness – in a University of Nevada Cooperative Extension study, eighteen assisted-living residents between 75 and 102 years of age took four weeks of classes on indoor gardening and were each given an indoor plant. A year later, they were healthier, had fewer illnesses and had outlived the group that didn’t have an indoor plant to care for.
- improve your bone health. Dr. B.C. Wolverton, Anne Johnson and Keith Bounds, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, found that indoor plants can removing benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from interior air. These three common household pollutants leech calcium from our bones. Indoor plants help protect them.
- reduce airborne moulds and bacteria by 50-60% in your home. Credit the leaves, stems and flowers of indoor plants – plus their roots and the micro-organisms that live there. Dr. Wolverton discovered this too.
- cut down dust by up to 20%. The dust on the leaves of plants, stems and flowers won’t be circulating in the air you breathe. At the same time, the plants will help restore a healthful level of humidity in an air-conditioned or heated room. This was discovered in a study at Washington State University.
- reduce distraction .If anything needs support, it’s our ability to concentrate as we age. The good news: The Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester, UK, demonstrated that students were 70% less distracted when there were indoor plants in a lecture room.
- absorb CO2 (carbon dioxide) and produce oxygen.
How many indoor plants does your home need?
Two large plants – or the equivalent leafiness in smaller plants – for every 12 sq. meters should do a wonderful job.
Indoor plants are easy for seniors like us to care for
For starters, you can place plants on window sills, for less bending (make sure you have a tray under them to prevent water damage).
Err on the side of under-watering. Your thumb is the guide. If no potting soil sticks to your thumb when it’s shoved into the dirt, the plant needs water. Generally, water a little more in the spring, a little less in winter.
In general, If the plants will flower, they’ll need more light. Plants with variegated leaves need less light and those with dark leaves are the shade plants.
Plants are like us – they need enough humidity to be comfortable. Follow your own comfort level in heating season.
A single plant is a very efficient dust collector. You can easily clean them with a damp paper towel or a ball of cotton and water. Clean them regularly, because plants breathe through their leaves.
Pinch off dying flowers and damaged or yellowing leaves.
More tips on plants that clean the air
The rewards of growing indoor plants are not just practical. They’re also emotional.
Lots of research has shown that giving our care to a plant is much like giving it to any other living thing. Provide the care your plants needs and they will reward you with a sense of contentment, aid in relaxation, help reduce stress and an contribute to a general sense of well-being.
Any time is a good time to get started with indoor plants, why not start today?