Houseplants That Improve Air Quality

palms in house Ted lare design and build

We all love to breathe fresh air, but if you’re stuck inside a lot, you might not be getting as much as you’d like. Besides being stuck with recycled indoor air, there’s a chance that some less-than-desirable chemical particles are floating around in your air. Things like paint fumes, the adhesives used for flooring, and the chemicals used to treat upholstery fabric can off-gas chemicals that aren’t exactly beneficial for your lungs. 

The NASA Experiment

But, thanks to NASA, you don’t have to be stuck breathing in stale recycled air. In the ’80s, NASA built a fully bio-sealed home model—the kind of thing you might need to live in if you decided to move to Mars. But, to make this “space house” functional, the home had to be made entirely of synthetic products. People who entered the facility started to complain about sore eyes and breathing problems right away. The last thing anyone wants is for their home to make them sick! So NASA added some air-cleaning plants and did a study. Within just a few days, people could enter the facility without symptoms.  

Why was this so effective? Plants breathe, just like we do, but their “breathing” process is called transpiration. When they take in the air with toxic chemical particles, those chemicals are pulled down into their root systems. Bacteria and beneficial microbes in the soil can feed on these toxins, and in turn, keep the plants healthy. So, in addition to consuming carbon dioxide, some houseplants remove toxins and put out clean and healthy oxygen. Plus, plants can help reduce stress levels and improve your mood.

NASA’s study included 12 different houseplants, but these are our top 5 favorites:

  1. Areca Palm, or Butterfly palm, is a pretty palm with big frondy leaves. They’re often grown in clumps of several stalks that resemble bamboo. Areca palm does require a lot of light, but it can’t handle much direct sunshine. They’ll do best near a south or west-facing window with a sheer curtain to protect them from direct sun. Palms need good drainage and are vulnerable to overwatering, so let the top of the soil dry before watering again.

  1. Rubber plants are an easy houseplant to grow. Their large, waxy leaves are minimalist and architectural. It likes lots of bright light and can handle morning sun, though they should be shaded during the hottest part of the day. Rubber plant likes evenly moist soil, so don’t forget to water this one regularly.
  2. Janet Craig Dracaena has broad, glossy green leaves. It can tolerate lower light situations, although if it doesn’t have enough light, the new leaves will be much narrower than others. This dracaena likes evenly moist soil, but good drainage. It will suffer if overwatered, but if the tips start to get brown, go ahead and water it a tad more often. 

  1. Philodendron is super easy to grow and can also tolerate relatively low-light. Its heart-shaped leaves look beautiful on its long, trailing vines. There are several different varieties of philodendron available, and they’re all pretty tough. They do need good drainage, and the top of the soil should be dry before you water.
  2. Dwarf date palm has arching fronds densely packed with narrow leaves. This unique palm does very well indoors and can tolerate quite low light. It’s an excellent choice for offices. During spring and summer, the soil should be kept evenly moist, and during the winter months, the surface should dry out a bit.

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Adding houseplants to your home give it a welcoming feel, and having plants around makes us happier, not to mention all that wonderful oxygen production! If you’d like to add some houseplants to your home, give us a call. You can order online, or give us a call for concierge shopping. We’ll get everything you need ready, from plants to pots to soil, and arrange for curbside pickup. Alternatively, we can now deliver to you within the Des Moines metro area. 



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