Heartleaf Philodendren
African Violet(76662)

The thought of breathing cleaner air inside my home is refreshing, especially in the winter when windows often remain closed and icicles hang from the screened porch ceiling.  Plants as part of a home’s décor have many advantages but also create many challenges.  Here’s a list of things to consider before outlaying your cash.

  1. THE WHY – Plants bring beauty and joy to the most average home or office, and they and their containers offer excellent decorating possibilities. But their health benefits might be enough reason to invest your time and money. Research in the 1980’s by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) resulted in proof that significant air filtration occurs indoors where plants are located. This is extremely significant in our closed-up, sealed-off, toxin-filled houses and buildings. Through photosynthesis, plants breathe in carbon monoxide and exhale oxygen. This means that the air in my living room where gramps smokes can be a little safer. And in the kitchen where I regularly burn the steaks? Same thing – a little safer. And the bathroom where chemicals fly?  You get the picture. The 80’s study also indicated that certain plants are better at filtering toxic elements such as trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde – compounds often found in man-made woods, plastics, paints, and cleaning products. It doesn’t matter why you want to have plants in your home; however, it is important to do your homework before your purchase.
  2. THE WHERE – Find your Girl or Boy Scout compass or the one on your Apple iPhone and begin. Basically, there are four natural light locations inside your home – sunny, bright, partial shade, and shade. Each location associates with the amount of sunlight it receives. Sunny equals direct sunlight – light within 2 feet of a south or southwest window and from a light-filled windowsill.  Bright is more indirect and within 4-5 feet of an east- or west-facing window; 3-5 feet from south or southwest facing windows; or anywhere in a room where the sun shines for at least 2-3 hours a day.  Partial shade is low lighting from a morning only sunlit window. This would be an east-facing window. Also at least 3-5 feet from a south or southwest window. If you have north-facing windows, place the plant directly in front of the window to get low-lighting. Shady areas are at least 6 feet from any window, in corners, or tree-shaded windows. There are also a number of indoor artificial lights to help your houseplants thrive in unnatural surroundings.
  3. THE WHAT – The 1980s NASA and ALCA study identified 17 houseplants that help create a healthier indoor environment. The challenge is matching the plants with the environment. The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant is an excellent resource. Of course, the local, giant homestore has plants but a reputable nursery offers experts with an experienced amount of information and quality plants. If you do choose the homestore, be sure and take your encyclopedia along – plant tags are often incorrect or missing, and the “gardeners” may be more conversant in plumbing, all of which may cause the plant to end up in the wrong location. The encyclopedia gives valuable information on the light, water and fertilizer each plant requires. Also if there are small children or pets in your home be aware of plants that cause harm if eaten. Remember, plants take time and patience, and when you decide to take a trip, you might have to hire a plant watcher.
  4. THE HOW MANY – It is recommended that a 2000 square foot home host a minimum of 15 houseplants.  This can include the ones recommended by NASA and ALCA but don’t forget about other fun additions such as the African Violet, orchids, a Christmas Cactus, a windowsill herb garden and a tabletop succulent garden. NASA’s plants include 15 ordinary houseplants, and the two seasonal-type plants Chrysanthemums and Gerber Daisies, both that better filter chemical compounds. The 15 plants include:
  • Heartleaf Philodendron
  • Elephant Ear Philodendron
  • Cornstalk Dracaena
  • English Ivy
  • Spider Plant
  • Janet Craig Dracaena
  • Warneck Dracaena
  • Weeping Fig
  • Golden Pothos
  • Peace Lily
  • Selloum Philodendron
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Bamboo or Reed Palm
  • Snake Plant
  • Red-edged Dracaena

The results of plants indoors are  joy, joy, joy!  When there is the necessary time available to spend on your  houseplants, the results include joy and satisfaction. Our body is made up of the same elements that are found in the earth. I believe that’s why our hands find such pleasure in digging around in it.  Enjoy!