Decorating with houseplants may seem daunting to those without a green thumb, but rest assured the benefits and ease of taking care of a few low-maintenance indoor plants delivers many advantages in terms of indoor air quality and design.
Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is defined exactly as it sounds, and when the quality of your indoor air is poor, it may have detrimental effects on your health. According to the EPA, benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, second hand smoke, and radon are just a few of the dangerous chemicals that can pollute the insides of our homes.
While it is highly important to take the state of your home’s air quality seriously, decorating with houseplants is a good place to begin. Not only will your home look great, but it will be healthier, too. Just remember that in order for their benefits to be effective, you’ll need one 6- to 8-inch diameter plant for every 100 square feet.
Health Benefits of Houseplants
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, or InterNACHI, claims that indoor air is often far more polluted than outdoor air due to off-gassing from within the home. However, phytoremediation, or the removal of environmental toxins with the aid of plants, is well within every homeowner’s reach. Fortunately, a few strategically placed houseplants will rid your air of carbon dioxide in no time, but the benefits don’t end there.
Specific plants are shown to remove specific chemicals, according to two studies – one conducted by NASA and the other by the government of India. Their findings concluded that some plants removed four major chemicals from the home, while others were able to reduce eye irritation by 52 percent, respiratory conditions by 34 percent, headaches by 24 percent, lung impairment by 12 percent, and asthma by 9 percent.
Although houseplants will aid in improving your indoor air quality, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Cats and puppies like to nibble on leafy greens, so make sure that the plants you choose won’t harm your cohabitating pets. And be sure that the moisture in the air remains regulated after introducing houseplants, as they can potentially cause mold growth due to the humid conditions.
Which Plants to Choose and How to Place Them
Here is a mini-guide on which plants to choose to accommodate your lifestyle, along with the best nooks and crannies to place them. Not only can they improve your health, but plants can brighten, beautify, and add much needed style to your home.
The aloe vera plant is great for filtering formaldehyde and benzene out of the air, plus it’s handy for healing cuts and burns. Not all succulents have the pollution clearing properties like the aloe plant, but they are resilient and beautiful nonetheless. Aloe needs indirect sunlight and deep watering, but requires ample time in between for the soil to dry as well.
Decorate with succulents by creating a sweet little garden beneath the kitchen window, opt for something more minimalist and dramatic with a row of concrete planters filled with succulents, or dangle them from the ceiling in a grouping of little clay planters.
Also try: Echeveria, Pencil Cactus, and String of Pearls.
Boston ferns are an excellent choice for indoor decorating. They work very well when spilling their lush green foliage over the edges of hutches, kitchen cabinets, bookshelves, and even strategically placed free-standing decorative planters.
These ferns need bright, indirect sunlight, and frequent misting, depending on ambient humidity. They are easy to propagate, act as natural air humidifiers, and can remove formaldehyde from the indoor air.
Also try: Chinese Evergreen, Spider Plant, and the Baby Rubber Plant.
Although herbs aren’t prized for cleaning indoor air, they do still boast many benefits. Having fresh, homegrown herbs at your disposal year-round, the fragrant aromas they emit, and the colorful foliage are all advantages to growing indoor herbs.
Have fun with an herb garden in the windowsill of your kitchen or breakfast area, or choose other locales for herbs that can handle indirect sunlight. Rosemary and thyme can tolerate indirect sunlight, so place these in groups in front of your kitchen’s grocery list chalkboard, as seen above, or better yet, paint chalkboard labels on your herb pots and write in the variety so you will always know what’s what.
Also try: Mint, Parsley, and Oregano.
Indoor palm trees are a beautiful, tall, and dramatic addition to any interior. Be sure to choose a palm that’s to scale with your space. The Areca Palm is one of the easiest to grow indoors, is relatively disease-free, and is one of the best rated on NASA’s study of the 10 best air purifying plants.
Place this palm near a southeast or west facing window, as they need filtered sunlight. Indoors it averages 6 to 7 feet tall. These would look beautiful tucked into the corner of a dining room near the end of a buffet, adjacent to your living room sofa near a picturesque window, or on the floor in your home office to boost your work performance. Have fun with the pots – choose something bright and colorful or chic and modern to coincide with your space.
Also try: Pygmy Date Palm, Bamboo Palm, and the Lady Palm.
Chrysanthemums are a sweet, colorful way to decorate your home while simultaneously cleaning the air. According to NASA’s study, chrysanthemums are excellent at removing benzene from the home. They are also said to absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the atmosphere.
Place these beauties in bright light. Try grouping them, odd numbers are best, near a kitchen window sill or in your laundry room, light permitting. A sofa side table is nice spot for a flowering chrysanthemum – choose a color that picks up the hues from your favorite throw pillow or rug for a pleasant, cohesive appearance.
Also try: Gerbera Daisy, Peace Lily, and the Moth Orchid.
After absorbing a few of our helpful tips for improving your indoor air quality and decorating with houseplants, we want to hear from you. What’s your favorite part about decorating with houseplants? Do you have any favorite tips or plants you’d like to include? Share your ideas with us on the EcoSalon Facebook page!
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Image of Blue Pottery Succulents and via Shutterstock