The last post explored the importance of trees as the lungs of our earth and ended with encouragement to plant more trees come spring. I used to live on 60 acres, two thirds of which was raw forest. Despite this ratio I was forever planting trees in the garden!
But what if you can’t plant more trees? What if your yard has no room, or worse, like me, you live in an apartment? I feel your pain!
The answer is instead of planting a tree, pot up some plants instead. Adding houseplants will make your home healthier by cleaning the air and providing oxygen, just like our trees.
Any tropical type plant will do. Well, any plant at all will do, but tropical plants are suited for life in a constantly warm, shady, environment…something the average home mimics beautifully. While not necessary, I have discovered that plants love in-floor heat! Something I found out when I ended up with a few plants I couldn’t find a spot for, so crowded them on the floor in a corner while I decided what to do with them. After a week they started to put out new growth like crazy. This despite receiving little light and one of them being an orange tree, which usually requires at least a few hours of sunshine. In-floor heat is the sole source of heating in our apartment, so that means I can set plants on the floor pretty much anywhere and they’re happy. Yes!!!
Here are five plants that are always being recommended as environmental superstars in the home. They are the aspens or the lungs of the living room so to speak!
1 – Aloe Vera – not only does this common house plant do a stellar job of purifying the air, the gel in the leaves will help soothe cuts and burns…and make a rejuvenating drink!
2 – Peace Lily – you have to love a plant with a name like that and what better specimen for a Peace Country home! It purifies the air and produces gorgeous pure white blooms. Even when it isn’t in bloom the leaves still make this plant a real eye catcher.
3 – Snake Plants – also called Mother-in-law tongue (not PC…not PC at all!) this plant thrives on little to no light and is one of the best choices for the bedroom since it absorbs carbon dioxide by day and releases oxygen by night…the opposite of most plants.
4 – Spider Plants – these prolific producers are even on the NASA list of best air purifying plants. Hey, if they are good enough for space they are good enough for our space! Benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene are just some of the chemicals the spider plant eats for breakfast. And lunch. And supper. And snacks…well, you get the idea. A perfect choice for a new building with lots of off gassing from new floors, window coverings etc.
5 – Golden Pothos – Another plant on the NASA list because of its thirst for formaldehyde. Another great choice for new buildings to combat the off gassing from new materials. This plant likes to cascade its leaves down, so is best suited for hanging baskets or perhaps perched on a tall stand.
To be oxygen self sufficient an air tight space would need approximately 300 – 500 plants per person! A few walls like these would be a good start…
I recently read about a man who had started a garden in huge glass bottle. A few years into the project he screwed a lid on the bottle and left it alone. Despite being cut off from any outside source of air or nutrients, the garden thrived. I can’t remember exactly how long he had the garden by the time the article was written, but it was something like 30 years. For 25 or so of those years the garden had been completely self-sustaining. The leaves provided its own moisture, fertilizer and oxygen. It was like the planet earth in a bottle.
While living in an apartment might feel claustrophobic at times, obviously we multi-housing dwellers still have access to earth’s fine blend of air. If you really were living in a glass bubble cut off from any source of air, you would need approximately 10,000 leaves to keep each person in oxygen or the equivalent to 300 – 500 plants. That’s a few more than most of us are willing to care for–or sacrifice space for. Ah well. Even bringing half a dozen plants into your home will make it a healthier place to hang your hat. The place will look prettier too.