Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cleaning the Indoor Air with Houseplants
A really good idea

The house is filled with computers and TVs and other polluting things, but plants can help us to improve the air in our home.

Plants provide a natural, cost effective way to clean indoor air and combat "sick-building syndrome". In a 24-hour period a spider plant can remove 80% of formaldehyde pollutants from an enclosed room. So cleaning the air in the house can be as simple as buying a few houseplants - and almost all plants are powerful air cleaners. The plant acts as a filter by removing pollutants from the air and replacing the air with oxygen in a more pure form. Pollotuin in the home can give burning eyes, itchy throat or other respiratory problems .The three harmful pollutants commonly found in today's homes are benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene (TCE). 15 to 20 houseplants can purify the interior of an 1,800 square foot house.

Benzene is a commonly-used solvent and is found in tobacco smoke, gasoline, inks, oils, paint, plastic, and rubber. It's also used in the manufacture of detergents, pharmaceuticals, and dyes. Exposure to benzene can cause dizziness, nervousness, headaches, and anemia; and it irritates both the eyes and skin.Plants that remove benzene are: Gerbera Daisy, Chrysanthemum, Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), Chamaedorea sefritzii (Bamboo Palm), Dracaena 'Warneckei', Hedera helix (English ivy), and Sansevieria (Snake Plant).

Formaldehyde is found in virtually in all indoor environments. Major sources include insulation, particleboard, and paper products. Many cleaning products also contain formaldehyde. Formaldehyde irritates the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory system and can increase risk of asthma. Plants that remove formaldehyde are: Chamaedorea sefritzii (Bamboo Palm), Dracaena 'Janet Craig', Sansevieria (Snake Plant), Dracaena Marginata, Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily), Chlorophytum (Spider Plant), Epipiremnum aureum (Golden Pothos), and Philodendron scandens `oxycardium' (Heartleaf Philodendron).

Trichloroethylene has a wide variety of industrial uses. It is used in inks, paints, varnishes, and adhesives.Plants that remove trichloroethylene are: Gerbera daisy, Chrysanthemum, Dracaena Marginata, Spathiphyllum (Peace lily), Dracaena 'Janet Craig', and Chamaedorea (Bamboo palm).

Most of the plants listed below evolved in tropical or sub-tropical forests, where they received only light filtered through the taller trees. Over time these air-cleaning plants adapted to lower light conditions, so most of them are perfectly suited to the light conditions we can offer them in our homes.

Aglaonema modestum (Chinese evergreen) : One of the easiest houseplants to grow and tolerates low light. Water thoroughly and let the soil dry out between watering.

Chamaedorea sefritzii (Bamboo Palm) Thrives in medium to bright light and likes average room temperatures with lots of humidity. From Spring to Fall, water well and then moderately during Winter.

Chrysantemum: Keep them cool and moist. If in bud, fertilize every two weeks.

Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)(Væddeløber):Likes average temperatures with bright light, but can tolerate medium light. Water thoroughly and let the soil dry out between watering.

Dracaena 'Janet Craig' (Corn Plant), Dracaena `Warneckii' (Striped Dracaena):Prefers bright light, but not direct sun. Water thoroughly Spring through Winter and let the soil dry out between watering.

Dracaena marginata (Red-edged Dracaena):Easy to grow in bright to medium light, average home temperatures.

Epipiremnum aureum (Golden Pothos) (Guldranke):Climbing or trailing vine. An excellent choice for less than optimum conditions because it tolerates low light and infrequent watering.

Gerbera Daisy: Indoors requires bright light to flower. Keep soil slightly moist.

Hedera helix (English Ivy) (Vedbend):Prefers temperatures from 18.5°C in the day to 7°C at night.Water thoroughly and let the soil dry out between watering

Philodendron scandens 'oxycardium' (Heartleaf Philodendron):Easy to grow, happy in home temperatures and humidity. Good for low light situations. Let soil dry out between watering.

Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant) (Svigermors skarpe tunge): This plant tolerates almost any amount of neglect, but with a little attention can be lovely. Does well in all light situations. Do not over-water.

Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily) (Fredslilje): Easy to grow. Tolerates low light conditions and blooms in medium light conditions. Keep soil slightly moist.

Source:The Best Houseplants for a Healthy Home, By Editorial Team

photo:grethe bachmann

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