Health: Why Plants might be the secret to good health
Under water them or over water them, I've not had a lot of luck with plants in the past, however something has made me try again.
Health! That's right. We all know that plants are indispensable to human life. Through photosynthesis, they convert the carbon dioxide we exhale into fresh oxygen but did you know that having certain plants around your home is actually said to be beneficial to your health?
Some plants are actually said to purify the air the air we breathe by removing toxins. Living in an energy efficient, modern building can have unintended side effects such as asthma, choosing the right air purifying plants for your home can detoxify the air in your living spaces, meaning your houseplants not only look lovely but are working hard too.
NASA's Clean Air Study published in 1989, found that indoor plants can scrub the air of cancer-causing volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde and benzene. Air purifying plants can detoxify your home from airborne toxins, dusts and germs that you never knew were lurking in a variety of household products, materials and furniture, even your own carpet may carry more chemicals than expected. These chemicals can make up to 90 percent of indoor air pollution. (NASA researchers were looking for ways to effectively detoxify the air of space station environments.) Later research found that soil microorganisms in potted plants also play a part in cleaning indoor air. Based on this research, some scientists say house plants are effective natural air purifiers.
But how many plants would you need to make it work?
Well, the bigger and leafier the plant, the better, however conditions in a lab differ hugely to those in the home. Lab tests would have the plant in a sealed environment whereas the air in a home is constantly being exchanged via open doors and windows, for example, so it’s impossible to guess how many plants might be needed to clean a room of its contaminants. At least two “good sized” plants per 100 square feet of interior space are however recommended. While plants have less horse power than air purifiers, they’re more natural, cost effective, and therapeutic.
Plants are also known to:
increase mood and productivity
enhance concentration and memory
reduce stress and fatigue
So to give you and your home a healthy breath of fresh air, here's some of the best air purifying plants:
THE BOSTON FERN - Can be high maintenance because they need a cool place with a high level of humidity and indirect light. However, experts say they are well worth the maintenance because of their air-purifying abilities. Boston fern's remove more formaldehyde than any other plant. THE GOLDEN POTHOS - or Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum), a widely grown houseplant that can tolerate low light levels and extreme neglect. It has been modified to produce a liver enzyme called cytochrome p450 2e1 – taken from rabbits – that breaks down a wide range of pollutants. BARBERTON DAISY - As well as injecting a cheerful burst of red, yellow, orange or pink into your home, the Barberton daisy is an effective cleanser of the toxins formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene, found in a range of household materials from paints to synthetic fibres. ENGLISH IVY - This easy-growing perennial vine is particularly effective at reducing airborne faecal particles which makes it the perfect air purifier for your bathroom or en suite. In addition, studies have shown that the ivy can also help combat mould levels in the home. SNAKE PLANT OR MOTHER-IN-LAW'S TONGUE - With this plant in your bedroom, you're in for a great night's sleep. Also known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue, this yellow-tipped succulent releases oxygen at night, helping you to breathe better while sleeping. It is one of the best plants for filtering the air of formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene. CHRYSANTHEMUM - Brighten up your kitchen or living room with a chrysanthemum. These pretty blooms help to filter out a host of toxins including ammonia and benzene, which is often found in plastics, detergents, and glue. SPIDER PLANT - For those of you who are houseplant newbies, the resilient spider plant is the perfect choice. remember taking little cuttings as a kid and growing baby spider plants. It will quietly battle toxins including carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the printing and rubber industries. If you have pets, this is one of the few houseplants that is non-toxic to animals.
ALOE VERA - A healing aloe plant is a lovely addition to your kitchen windowsill, as it loves a sunny spot. While being on hand to soothe any kitchen burns, this succulent will be purifying the air of formaldehyde and benzene, found in varnishes, floor finishes, and detergents. BROAD LADY PALM - This is one of the few plants that can help reduce levels of ammonia that can be found in a range of cleaning products. They are expensive to buy fully-grown so you might want to shop around for a smaller one or start from seed. RED-EDGED DRACAENA OR DRAGON TREE - Trichloroethylene and xylene are amongst the pollutants fought by this spiky, slow-growing plant. The leaves have a bright red trim which add a flash of colour to your home. WEEPING FIG - Popular houseplants since the Victorian times, weeping figs can help to tackle levels of formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. CHINESE EVERGREEN - This tropical plant is proven to be an effective cleanser of formaldehyde and benzene, found in detergents and cosmetics. Happy Planting!