Choose indoor plants wisely

When it comes to indoor plants, there is a
whole lot to love. But it seems indoor plants get short shrift in particular in
rental properties where their artificial facsimiles have taken up a prominent
post in decorators’ repertoires.

Rethinking house plants might be worth it,
however, as they can not only add beauty to a home but also play a role in
freshening the air.

Plants take in carbon dioxide through their
leaves, and through the process of photosynthesis release oxygen. They act as
filters by removing pollutants from the air and replacing the air they draw in
with oxygen in a more pure form. NASA scientists in the 1980s working on space
travel discovered that a number of plants, many of which come from tropical and
subtropical regions, are excellent at removing even quite toxic pollutants from
the air. The three harmful pollutants most commonly found in today’s homes are
: benzene, a solvent found in inks, rubber and detergents; formaldehyde, which
is found in insulation, particleboard and paper products; and
trichloroethylene, which is found in paints, varnishes and adhesives. The
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exalta Bostoniensis) and the Peace Lily
(Spathiphyllum) are effective in removing formaldehyde from the air . The dwarf
date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) removes xylene, the lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
breaks down ammonia, while elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
and devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) also known as golden pothos, metabolize benzene
and carbon monoxide.

Other top air cleaners include areca palm
(Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), the weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), and the corn
plant (Dracaena fragrans Massangeana). It is estimated that 15 to 20
houseplants can purify the interior of an 1,800 square foot house.

Three
main things

It’s no good investing in houseplants for
your home if they are not going to survive.

“Plants need light, air and water at the
most basic,” says Suzanne Schwarz of Vigoro.

“When choosing a houseplant above all you
need to choose the right plant for the right light.”

However, that does not seem to deter some
people.

“I have people coming in here telling me
they love a particular plant, and when I ask them where they plan to put it, I
tell them it will not thrive,” says Schwarz.“But they will buy it anyway.” The
results tend to be what she expected.

Indoor light is classified in terms of low,
medium and bright light, as even sun shining through a pane of glass is
technically “indirect.”

Plants appreciating a lot of light are
Chamaedorea seifrizii, known as bamboo palm or parlour palm, Ficus benjamina
and the Deiffenbachia, the leaves of which are toxic if chewed and therefore a
plant highly unsuitable for homes with pets or babies.

“Really, Ficus likes to be outside in the
full hot sun, but if you have a very bright area you can do it,” says Schwarz.

Plants that are content in low light
include Aglaonema or Chinese evergreen, Zizi plant or Zamioculcas zamiifolia
(poisonous if ingested), the Peace Lily (slightly toxic), and Devil’s vine,
which is toxic to cats and dogs but will grow in just about any conditions. A
caveat, it is highly invasive so should be only used indoors.

“If you have the right light, your plant
should not get stressed out,” says Schwarz.

“You should not really get any problem
pests.”

She says every single bug you could imagine
is here including scale, spider mites, and mealy bugs.

“If you discover something, bring a sample
leaf to the nursery in sealed clear plastic baggie, and we can tell you what
has happened and we can tell you how to resolve the problem.”

She does note that pests can enter the home
through screens, doors and clothing, and a healthy happy plant is best equipped
to deal with them.

A
few more things to think about

Good sized plants include Ficus benjamina
and the corn plant.

Some plants require quite a lot of care and
specific conditions.

An African violet for example needs to be
put in a window.

“And I would not recommend ferns inside the
house,” says Schwarz.

“Most places have AC, and they require high
humidity, so you will need to spritz them to ensure they are ok. An Aglanema or
Philodendron is much easier to take care of.”

She says overall before taking any plant
home a little research goes a long way.

“You really should check for toxicity
levels, the easiest place being online, and check three different sources and
assess what they say,” says Schwarz.

“Or you can go to a nursery, and talk to
the staff.”

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