I have a passion for plants—especially house plants. I have many in my house. In one large room, I even have a Ficus benjamina, which is 30 feet tall. I’ve had it for years. It was maybe 10 feet tall when I started with it. Now it is a magnificent life-form that delights me. It lives in a room with about five or six others, many of them rainforest plants. It’s a room we use for meditation, celebration, and work.
PLANTS FOR PURE AIR
What has happened—and I find this so exciting—is that there has been some recent research done by NASA scientists keen to explore the possible effects plants have on the environment, with reference to off-planet facilities for astronauts. What they discovered is that common indoor plants are amazingly powerful in fighting against the rising levels of indoor air-pollution in both offices and homes. Why? Because a number of plants—and they only studied and verified the effects of nineteen, though they strongly suspect there are many more—absorb potentially harmful gases, and clean the air inside our homes and buildings.
Plant physiologists have long known that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. But what the researchers have now found is that many house plants absorb nasty chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. How the scientists discovered this was to take a particular plant, put it in an enclosed space, and then introduce chemicals individually to see how the plant responded. The responses were fabulous. This is really important for all of us, because newer buildings are often tightly insulated and sealed to conserve heat or air-conditioning. This insulation, combined with the kind of chemicals used in building and painting, causes what is known as the “sick building syndrome”. I’ve always felt that house plants are beneficial to our lives, and sensed that they purify and renew our stale indoor air by filtering out toxins and replacing our exhaled carbon dioxide with life-sustaining oxygen.
OXYGENATE YOUR LIFE
Some HousePlants, according to NASA’s research, are more efficient in filtering out toxins than others. Philodendrons, for instance; spider plants; common English Ivy; even Ficus benjamina. Mostly they looked at green plants, but they also looked at a couple of flowering plants—one of them was Chrysanthemums. If people get Chrysanthemums, they usually bring them in while blossoming, and then take them outside. But it may be that we should keep some of these flowers inside permanently. Finally, one of the plants which I am very fond of, that they found enormously helpful in creating good air, is the Aloe vera plant.
HOW MANY ARE IDEAL
The NASA studies recommend that we use 15-18 good size plants to improve air quality in an average 1800 square foot house. I am going to explore the possibility of introducing a lot more plants to my wonderful indoor collection. I hope you will too.By Leslie Kenton