When it comes to indoor plants, I am a massive green thumb. A huge one. In my living room alone, I have six plants. In my bedroom I have four. The laundry holds three. I even have one in the kitchen. I am plant mad. My poor sister that housesits our place when I travel is constantly saying that she turns a corner in our house and it’s as if another plant has appeared (I wish). Plants rule!
Whilst I personally believe plants make a nice addition to anyones home, the health benefits of keeping some greenery indoors goes beyond the aesthetic and is why I really like my house looking like a jungle. We are exposed to a wide range of indoor air contaminants daily including mould, smoke, toxins, bacteria, pesticides, detergent fumes and small fibres. Considering that people spend most of their time either at work or at home, it is really important to ensure that the air you are breathing and what you are surrounding yourself with is beneficial to your health. After all, most work or home environments these days have improved insulation, air conditioning and ducted heating which reduces air exchange within a room and traps toxins inside, therefore making us breathe the same dirty air over and over again.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in conjunction with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) conducted the Clean Air Study which showed the benefits of keeping indoor plants in your home or office. The results showed that a number of indoor plants were capable of removing certain toxic agents such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. They do this by sucking contaminated carbon dioxide air into their leaves and down towards their roots where it is then converted into food for the plant and then emitted as oxygen making the air we breathe much cleaner. Further, surrounding yourself by greenery has proven to reduce particular body ailments. A two-year study conducted by Professor Tove Fjeld of Oslo’s Agricultural University found that introducing plants into your zone reduced fatigue by 20%, headaches by 45%, coughs by 40% and dry skin by 25%.
Most of the plants that are beneficial to indoor areas come from tropical or subtropical environments. More often that not, they have a dark green leaf and work best indoors due to their ability to flourish in reduced and filtered sunlight, thus allowing them to photosynthesise quite well in household or office light. The NASA Clean Air study recommends at least two plants per 100 square feet of home or office space to efficiently clean the air. If you work in an office environment, put one on your desk within your ‘personal breathing zone’ and reap the benefits of having clean air. At home, consider placing one or a few in your bedroom. Increasing the amount of oxygen in the air will ensure a sounder sleep and a more relaxed state. Additionally, any rooms with a lot of electrical equipment or where a number of cleaning products are regularly used would benefit from having a few dark leafy green plants in their midst.
Personally, the Peace Lily (from the Spathiphyllum family) is one of my favourites and it’s a really good choice for green thumb beginners. It virtually tells you when it needs watering and you have to be a complete dingbat to be able to kill them. When its leaves start to droop and look limp, you water it. Piece of p*ss. I am also a fan of mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria Trifasciate ‘Laurentii’) which I have one of sitting on my kitchen bench. However, if you are going to feature one of these in your house, please make sure it’s in an area which is out of reach for cats and dogs. If ingested, this is toxic and can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea for our four-legged friends. Some other great alternatives are the Happy Plant, Heartleaf Philodendron and the Spider Plant which all feature in my home.
If you’re one that cares for your health and consider the air you breathe an important aspect of overall wellbeing, then I highly recommend implementing some foliage into your abode or workplace. See it as an enhancement for your surroundings and investment for your health (albeit, a relatively cheap one).
Below are some great, easy-on-the-eye pot and plant ideas for your home.
The Pillow Planter: The Pillow Planter is a quirky alternative to your average indoor pot. Being inflatable, it can even float on water (bizarre, yet really cool). It can be purchased here.
The Sky Planter Upside Down Plant Pot: The Sky Planter uses 80% less water than ordinary pot plants and requires watering only twice a month, depending on the plant. They are a really attention grabbing way of housing your plants and they offer a range made from recycled polypropylene.
Mister Moss: These unusual little mounds of yarn and soil feature in my house quite heavily and are absolutely fantastic. They’re locally made in Melbourne and The Peace Lily (pictured above) is a great option to include in your house as they’re one of the best plants to purify your surrounding air. All you need is a small hook nail in your ceiling or one of the stands that Mister Moss supplies and you’re set. Just dunk it in water once a week or when it is feeling dry and wa-la! You have a fantastically cool, healthy plant.
Pop & Scott: These little beauties are designed and made in Melbourne, come in a variety of different colours and patterns and make any bland corner of a home look spectacular. They can be used indoors or outdoors and are made of fibreglass so they’re lightweight and easy to move… before you put soil in it.
Ikea: Of course – Ikea has everything. If you’re after a nice and cheap introduction into your quest to become a green thumb, Ikea is a great place to buy some small indoor pots for your home. They have quite a big range and they start at around $2.49 for a small pot. Cheap as chips!