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Keeping the air in our living spaces clean has become a goal of many us, much more so in the past year. While there are mechanized solutions to help us accomplish that goal, there are also solutions in nature. An often overlooked or undervalued solution is houseplants. Houseplants are the best indoor air filters that we can find in nature and outside of the store. There are many different toxins in our homes that we breathe, and seeing that we may not all go out and completely change the materials we use building our homes and living our day to day lives, we can filter these emissions and slowly decrease some of the toxins as we go along, greatly improving our health.
What toxins are in our homes that we breathe through the air?
That is a hefty list of potential toxins in our homes. 🙁 Our friends at NASA did a two-year study back in 1989 with Wolverton Environmental Services that really shed some light on the benefits of houseplants. One of the main conclusions of the study was that houseplants can greatly filter and improve our indoor air quality by up to 87%. EIGHTY-SEVEN PERCENT.
In NASA's Clean air study we were able to learn how plants clean the air by emitting water vapor that creates a pumping action to pull contaminated air down around a plant’s roots, where it is then converted into food for the plant. The more air that is allowed to circulate through the roots of the plants, the more effective they are at cleaning polluted air. We also now know where to place plants in our home which is about 1 plant every 100 square feet. In an 1800 square foot home, you should have about 15-18 good sized plants.
i took a tour of Dr. B.C. Wolverton's Book:
The best air cleaning plants to have in your home
I won't go through all 50 plants that Dr. Wolverton does, but I've tried to put together a very usable reference for which plants are available and their light needs. Most of these plants are extremely affordable. If you haven't already discovered the plethora of Etsy growers who are selling reasonably priced plants of all types, you are in for a real treat!! Each of the plants below is linked to a trustworthy Etsy seller. Keep Etsy sellers in mind for your vegetable growing goals in the spring, too!
You can also put the word out to your friend group that you're looking for clippings. Everyone who has houseplants has one that needs to be clipped back down into a more reasonable size, and you can grab the clippings! You can start slow and pick up a new plant every so often. I usually splurge during the winter months as I am getting a little low both in my mood and in missing the blossoming outdoor world. Plants can make a long winter feel a little shorter.
let's get to the list of Houseplants that are the Best Indoor Air Filters:
This list provides plants that actually help clean the air you breathe in your home. You can see the chart provided by Wikipedia from NASA's clean air study of what plants will remove particular toxic emissions from the air.
You may not have a green thumb, but I assure you will get better as you go. Having houseplants is well worth the try. Start slowly! I'm sure there was signicantly more indoor plant death in the days before the Internet, but good news! We have the benefit of the Internet! At the first sign of trouble (colored leaves, bugs, general sickly looking little plant), head to the Internets! Plant lovers are some of the most giving souls on this planet, and you will find someone who can give you critical advice on how to save your little green baby! Here's one wonderful forum that might help!
I personally have a house full of plants. Even after researching the benefits of house plants I feel I could go out and buy some more. I might even start a plant clipping group with friends, where my love of plants began. A good friend gave me a clipping of her philodendron, and I have grown and made several clones of this large, beautiful plant, for the last 15 years.
Bringing nature into our homes can bless us all in so many ways. It truly amazes me that we have the ability to filter such harsh toxins that are in our homes. This can be a first step of taking action to create a healthy space for our families, while slowly changing materials we use that can be harmful to our health.
I encourage you to use the knowledge NASA and Wolverton Environmental Services has worked so hard to bring us to good use. They have proven once again, nature can heal our environments, inside and out.
Is there a houseplant that you love that I have missed????? I BEG YOU, please comment so I can add it to the list. All of us houseplant lovers are always on the search for a new "secret" find that departs from the typical houseplants available at box stores. (You know the ones.)
This post was originally published on January 30, 2016.