Common House Plants Clean the Air
In Your Home & Office

Our common house plants are more valuable than we think. Yes they look good (if they are healthy:) but there is another greater benefit to having them in our homes and offices.

You will remember learning at school that plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen yes? But did you know that certain house plants can also remove harmful chemicals from the air in your home or office?

In the late 1980s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America conducted research to see if houseplants could purify the air in space facilities. According to their results there are several common house plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds or VOCs.

How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office How pure is the air you breathe? Learn how to grow and nurture 50 plants

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Effect of indoor plants

Common house plants together with the medium in which they are grown can reduce components of indoor air pollution, particularly volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as benzene, toluene, and xylene. Plants can also remove CO2, which is correlated with lower work performance, from indoor areas. The effect has been investigated by NASA for use in spacecrafts. Plants also appear to reduce airborne microbes, molds, and increase humidity. from Wikipedia

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Which plants are best to filter your air?

According to a study by NASA Scientists these are the best common house plants to improve your indoor air quality...

  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Golden pothos or Devil's ivy (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')
  • Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
  • Bamboo palm or reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
  • Snake plant or mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')
  • Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn.
  • Philodendron cordatum)
  • Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn.
  • Philodendron selloum)
  • Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
  • Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
  • Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans 'Massangeana')
  • Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig')
  • Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis 'Warneckii')
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
  • Gerbera Daisy or Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
  • Pot Mum or Florist's Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)
  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

Here's my pick of the best...

These are, in my opinion, the most common house plants and the easiest to find and care for;

If you have children or pets then omit the ones with the poisonous warning.

1. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

There are many types of English ivy; they differ in leaf size, shape, color, growth rate and growth habit but most English ivy is vine-like and without flowers. Ivies are used effectively in elevated planters where the vines can cascade.
Pots of approximately three to seven gallon capacity should be used to assure enough depth for drainage and an adequate volume of potting mix for moisture supply. Grow them in well-drained, peat-based potting mix which has a high water-holding capacity. Ivy can be grown in medium to bright filtered light very successfully. Avoid placing it in direct sun.
The plants grow well if you cycle them through periods where the upper layer of potting mix becomes dry but toward the bottom of the container there should be a medium amount of moisture. Never let the root zone dry out completely and water the plants just before they begin to wilt.
Warning: It should also be noted that this plant is poisonous. Make sure toddlers, children and pets cannot eat or chew on the leaves.

2. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider plants make great houseplants as they are low maintenance and thrive in pots. Spider plants are best grown in containers and hanging baskets where their shoots and tiny baby spider plants can cascade down.
They like a well drained (they don't like wet soil), rich potting mix.
Spider plants will do well in low light conditions but benefit from a light sunbathe through a window a couple of times a week. Don't leave them there on cold nights as they don't like really cold temperatures.
If the leaf tips turn brown you may be over-fertilizing or over watering. Snip off the brown leaves and alter your care of the plant.

3. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')

Keep away from direct sunlight. Direct sun burns the leaves of the peace lily, so give it medium to low light. Humidify the plant by misting the leaves with soft water and keeping the plant on a tray of pebbles. Misting also washes away red spider mites, which commonly infest peace lilies.
Let the plant dry in between waterings. The plant will wilt if it needs water.
Repot the peace lily every spring into the next size pot until the plant is in an 8- to 10-inch pot. Only fertilize in spring when soil is moist with a half dose of liquid organic fertilizer.

4. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

Chinese Evergreens are slow growing but with the right care they can last for many years. They prefer moderate to low light levels and don't like direct sunlight, drafts or cold temperatures.
Pot it in a mixture of peat moss, bark and sand if possible, but it will grow in any good potting mix. They enjoy moderate watering, with room temperature water and make sure you don't let the soil dry out between watering. In saying this, they don't like being soggy either so find a balance and give it regular care.
Fertilize with 1/4 strength indoor plant organic fertilizer. Anything stronger may harm the plant. Remove any yellowed or brown lower leaves from the plant to allow for new growth.
Warning: It should also be noted that this plant is poisonous. Make sure toddlers, children and pets cannot eat or chew on the leaves.

5. Bamboo palm or reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)

You can use a regular potting soil with coarse sand or peat added into the mix. Fertilize every one to three months with a liquid organic fertilizer diluted to half strength and mixed into water.
These palms like to be moist but not wet. Allow the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil to dry out before watering. But beware, if you over water leaf tips will turn yellow and whole fronds may fall off. However, the signs of under watering include brown tips and new growth turning brown and drying up.
Bamboo palms should never be placed in direct sunlight. Bright to moderate indirect light is best. Keep the palm away from hot or cold drafts. Spider mites and mealy bugs are the main pests that attack bamboo palms. Look for webs and clean the plant often with an organic liquid soap.

6. Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)

The Elephant Ear Philodendron is my favorite but any of the above philodendrons are wonderful for cleaning your indoor air. The plant will need bright, but indirect sunlight, bright filtered light or full shade and moist and well-drained soil. They should be watered well, but don't allow the soil to become soggy. When growing these elephant ear plants in containers, make sure that the potting soil offers good drainage. You will also have to prune the plant regularly to control any unwanted growth. Warning: It should also be noted that this plant is poisonous. Make sure toddlers, children and pets cannot eat or chew on the leaves.

7. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)

Pot up in a soilless potting mix or any good quality mix that drains well. The weeping fig tree is sensitive to chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals often found in tap water, as well as the salt in softened water. Try to use tank, rain or filtered water, or allow tap water to sit overnight in a bucket so the chemicals can dissipate into the air. Water thoroughly, then allow to dry out slightly between watering. This plant can't live with soggy soil. Keep soil slightly drier in winter.
Place your fig in bright, indirect light and leave it there, as it can drop its leaves if it is moved around. Keep it out of hot or cold drafts. If it does drop its leaves, with good care it will grow new leaves in spring and summer.
In early fall it will drop quite a few leaves but don't worry this is normal. You can help it by misting it to increase the humidity. Also, don't be tempted to over-water it at this time, it will only make it worse!
Weeping fig is a very long-lived house plant. If you look after it you'll enjoy it for many, many years. Feed once a month in spring through to fall with an organic liquid fertilizer diluted by half.

8. Gerbera Daisy or Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

Pot your gerbera daisies in a peat-based potting mix with good drainage. They will thrive when the root structure is a bit constricted, so increase by one or two pot sizes only. Place them in bright indirect or filtered light. Avoid overly warm areas and keep the soil moist allowing the surface of the soil to dry slightly between watering, and do not over water.
Gerbera daisy flowers have large (about 4") blooms with yellowish central disks surrounded by colorful petals. The petals are most commonly yellow, orange or red, but they are now produced in white, pink and violet.
There is no need to fertilize these plants. After the last flowers are spent just compost the plants. Gerbera daisies will bloom for 4-6 weeks as houseplants with correct care.

9. Pot Mum or Florist's Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)

Indoor pot Mums can be real water drinkers. Check for watering 3 to 4 times per week, but do not allow the pot to sit in water for more than one day and don't allow the potted soil to dry out, as this will harm the plant.
Keep mums in natural light or in the direct sun, whether indoors or out. Mum plants need plenty of sun for proper growth. Keep them away from night lighting if you can, as this will disturb their flowering cycle.
There is no need to fertilize the Mum plant while it is flowering, just deadhead the spent blooms. After flowers begin to wilt and die, pluck them at the base of the flower.
Chrysanthemum Tea has been revered by generations of Chinese and Oriental peoples. To prepare the tea, dried flowers should be infused in hot water for about 5 minutes. It is pale yellow in color and has a floral scent and taste. It may help to relieve headaches and in the treatment of colds, fever and flu.

Please Note:

Before consuming any plant parts or allowing children and pets full access to them check this extensive, if incomplete, list of plants containing poisonous parts that pose a serious risk of illness, injury, or death to humans or animals. Human fatalities caused by poisonous plants - especially resulting from accidental ingestion - are rare in the USA but it is still very worth checking as there are a few common house plants that are poisonous.

Get Answers to Almost Any
House Plant Question!

Introducing “1001 Answers to House Plant Questions”
Here for the first time is specific information on 258 of the most common house plants - from ableia to zephyr lily. Plus, all the basic questions you have about culture and propagation for every type of indoor plant.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a casual or fanatic indoor gardener, whether you’ve got a black thumb or an expert with a green one – with this single resource you’ll have answers right at your fingertips – anytime you need them. Click Here!

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Answers to Almost Any House Plant Question

Introducing “1001 Answers to House Plant Questions”
Here for the first time is specific information on 258 of the most popular houseplants - from ableia to zephyr lily. Plus, all the basic questions you have about culture and propagation for every type of indoor plant.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a casual or fanatic indoor gardener, whether you’ve got a black thumb or an expert with a green one – with this single resource you’ll have answers right at your fingertips – anytime you need them. Click Here!

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