There’s a small red clay pot by my kitchen window. Inside grows a lovely pink flowering impatien. It’s a low maintenance variety. I pinch off leaves to make it grow more full and put a few drops of water on it daily – typically from a glass that someone didn’t finish. This little plant has a story.
Eleven years ago, my grandparents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in Branson, MO. While on that trip, Grandma spied a large beautiful impatien growing in front of their hotel. She pinched off a leaf, kept it safe in a damp cloth and later sprouted it at home. Today it’s offspring sits in my kitchen as a testament to true enduring love.
I’m not an expert on houseplants but over time, I’ve learned what I’m most capable of keeping alive and green. I enjoy the aesthetic qualities that living plants add to a room and more importantly, my family is enjoying health benefits from those plants.
A 2-year study conducted by NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) found that common houseplants such as philodendron and spider plants not only make spaces more attractive, they also help purify the air. While the research was conducted to find ways to improve the air in orbiting space stations, it has beneficial implications for us on earth as well.
As energy conservation increases in importance, our homes and offices are becoming more tightly sealed to avoid energy loss. That’s not a bad thing since we’re saving energy but synthetic building materials can sometimes produce pollutants that remain trapped inside our homes and workplace. That can result in what is referred to as Sick Building Syndrome.
Most of us remember from science class that plants convert carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis. The NASA/ALCA study showed that different common houseplants remove harmful elements such as trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air. What’s more, other studies have shown a 28% increase in productivity when living plants are introduced into our work environments.
Here’s a list of recommended plants. Don’t be put off by the scientific names. I’ve added a photo reference to each and think you’ll recognize most.
1. Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’, heartleaf philodendron
2. Philodendron domesticum, elephant ear philodendron
3. Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’, cornstalk dracaena
4. Hedera helix, English ivy
5. Chlorophytum comosum, spider plant
6. Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig’, Janet Craig dracaena
7. Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii’, Warneck dracaena
8. Ficus benjamina, weeping fig
9. 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
Research recommends a variety of at least 15 plants (6-inch containers or larger) for the average 2,000 square feet home. This sounds like a lot but keep a sprouting jar in your kitchen and you’ll get there in no time. Better yet, next time you need a hostess gift, skip cut flowers and take a living plant. You’ll be offering a gift of wellness.
Which rooms in your home or office would benefit from the addition of a plant or three?