I am not a pro gardener and the plants we keep in our home are fairly easy to care for, not fussy-at-all. I do like to think that I have a green thumb (I must have gotten it from my mother), in the sense that when I plant and give it proper care, the plant thrives. Plants like me, yay! However, I’m pretty bad with juggling schedules so I prefer plants that do not mind being on their own for a couple of days or a week even, without being pampered.
Good thing, many plants are low maintenance and great for indoor spaces. Apart from being fuss-free, my five houseplants make wonderful natural air purifiers. Not only do they absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, these plants have been found to be effective in removing toxic elements from the air we breathe (NASA Clean Air Study). Ideally, you should have at least one plant per 100 square feet space of your home or office.
So, here they are my five houseplants and a few things I have learned about them:
The Sansevieria (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’) – also commonly called snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue is a toughie houseplant which can tolerate different conditions. It can live well in spaces with very low light and even occasional neglect. It does not need to be watered daily. In fact, it can survive weeks without water. Apart from its cool look, this hardy indoor plant helps improve air quality by absorbing toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.
Our Sansevierias had been rescued from a huge clump of uprooted plants in our landlady’s ground. They needed the extra space so they took out all the plants. We re-potted all the Sansevierias, along with some Spider Plants (the all green types) and now, there are also baby plants in each pot. Free plants, how cool is that!
The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), also called airplane plant, helps remove toxins like formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. It is one of my favorites because they are striped and they look so bright and happy!
There are two variegated cultivars:
C. comosum ‘Variegatum’ cultivar which has dark green mid stripe and white margins.
C. comosum ‘Vittatum’ cultivar which is white in the center with light green margins. – This is what we have in the house.
We also have the all-green type. It has been producing dainty little white inflorescences that bloom for a day – they wake up in the morning and sleep come night time – each day.
Spider plants do not require daily watering. I water them only when the soil feels dry, every once or twice a week (depends on the weather), and they do well in a bright spot, with indirect light. Propagating is easy, too. Mature plants can be divided to encourage new growth or you can wait for the mother plant to produce baby spiders. The spiderettes can be rooted in soil or in water.
The Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’) tops the list of NASA’s best air filtering plants as it eliminates not only one or two types of toxin but all six: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, xylene and toluene.
More than its delicate white bloom, I love the Peace Lily’s deep evergreen leaves. It is a fabulous indoor plant because it can thrive in low light. I have two pots of Peace Lilies that are both staying in a room with no windows, although the ceiling light is on most part of the day. At the moment, they are both on their way to recovery as they had both been sun scorched and most of the leaves withered. The good news is that there are new leaves growing now on both pots, so I take that as an indication that they are liking their new home.
The Aloe Vera is a succulent that has become popular for its medicinal uses. It is a natural remedy for burns and the extract is usually added to cosmetics and beauty products for its healing properties. Also included in NASA’s list, Aloe filters out benzene and formaldehyde from the air. It will thrive indoors as long as it receives a generous amount of bright, indirect sunlight. It does not need to be watered often because it is a toughie succulent. You can definitely let the soil dry out between waterings and make sure the soil drains well when watered to avoid root rot.
The big Aloe plant is the mother plant and that little one is her baby. Aloe loves to produce babies when it’s happy so you start with a single plant and before you know it, you have one big Aloe family in your care.
Called by many names – bamboo palm, golden cane palm, butterfly palm, Areca Palm, this tropical houseplant is not just great looking, it is an effective air cleaner – removing formaldehyde, xylene and toulene.
The Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens) loves bright, indirect light and is not very difficult to care for, so long as you make sure that the soil doesn’t completely dry out between waterings.
These five houseplants are easy to care for and beneficial for improving air quality inside the home. A few others I intend to have soon and which are also included in NASA’s list of air purifying plants are Boston Fern, English Ivy, Golden Pothos, and the Chinese Evergreen (see this complete chart of air-filtering plants from the NASA Clean Air Study).
Which air cleaning houseplants do you have at home?