Monday, September 17, 2012

Indoor Plants & what they can do for homes

Chlorophytum comosum 'Bonnie'
 Today this blog is about something much more different than what I've been writing about. I'm going to broach the subject of plants, especially the ones we currently use indoors. Did you know that there are a few houseplants that are in the top ten for purifying the air we breathe indoors? I bet a lot of you didn't know that.

When I was working on my Landscape design college degree I did a research paper on using plants indoor not just for their beauty but for the use of air purification being so many people work indoors instead of outside.

Back in the late 1980's NASA along with Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) did a study on particular houseplants that resulted in findings that that common houseplants such as bamboo palms, spider plants and a few others not only made indoors more attractive but also the discovery of them using toxins internal of the plant while returning clean air during it's cycle. I will have to explain this in a better way once I have more of my thoughts better collected for this.

Basically the trapped air indoors would build up and create what is known as the “Sick Building Syndrome” due to the fact that modern homes and buildings were basically sealed in such a way so that it could be energy efficient. The problem with that though is bad gases that humans give off have no way of escaping these buildings. It is a known fact that plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis. The testing of 19 plants clearly proved that 17 of them actually removed harmful elements such as trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde from the air.

Because these plants originally came from a tropical area where they were growing as what we would call understory plants, meaning they had to adapt to low light conditions. Because of this, they are great for indoor usage not just because they can adapt to low light areas but also because of their beauty to the human eye. The plants are very efficient with capturing light which means they also are very efficient in processing the gasses necessary for photosynthesis. Some gases are used that are potentially harmful to humans.

Interesting enough NASA's testing of some plants such as English Ivy, Gerbera daisies, Peace Lily, Bamboo palms, and Mother in law's tongue were found to to be best for treating indoor areas contaminated with Benzene. Peace lily's, Gerbera daisies, and Bamboo palms were also effect in treating Trichloroethylene.

NASA also discovered that Spider plants, Dracaena warneckei, Peace Lily, Golden Pothos were great for filtering out Formaldehyde.
Chlorophytum comosum 'Bonnie'
The following plants are great for cleaning out air pollutants. It should be noted that most of the time we are totally unaware of these gases because we can't see them or smell them.

  1. Philodendron scandens `oxycardium', heartleaf philodendron
    02. Philodendron domesticum, elephant ear philodendron
    03. Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana', cornstalk dracaena
    04. Hedera helix, English ivy
    05. Chlorophytum comosum, spider plant
    06. Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig', Janet Craig dracaena
    07. Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii', Warneck dracaena
    08. Ficus benjamina, weeping fig
    09. Epipiremnum aureum, golden pothos
    10. Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa', peace lily
    11. Philodendron selloum, selloum philodendron
    12. Aglaonema modestum, Chinese evergreen
    13. Chamaedorea sefritzii, bamboo or reed palm
    14. Sansevieria trifasciata, snake plant
    15. Dracaena marginata , red-edged dracaena

I thought I would share this information with you being I am trying to slowly get house plants for my Greenlandic home. The other day I picked up a spider plant and I'm so excited about having it indoors because I know how good it is with taking in bad toxins and using it for food through photosynthesis. They are fairly easy to take care of and they don't produce pollen for those who are sensitive to it. Great don't you think? Right now I am trying to find in the stores Golden Pothos, Bamboo palms and the light but so far nothing on those avenues.  I can only hope that eventually they will become an item to be sold or I will just have to sneak in some one. LOL
Hoya carnosa
Here is a list of resources for more information on this important study:

PDF files of the NASA studies related to plants and air quality:

List of NASA studies related to treating a variety of air and waterborne pollutants with plants:

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