Just about everyone knows that plants are great for producing oxygen and contributing to a zen feeling in any environment. New research shows indoor plants reduce air pollution, along with a number of modern problems such as stress, illness and even short attention span. The best part? Just three plants in the office or lounge room will do the trick.
Plants remove toxins from air – up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Benzene is commonly found in high concentrations in study settings, where books and printed papers abound.
Modern climate-controlled, air-tight buildings trap VOCs inside. The NASA research discovered that plants purify that trapped air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant.
Indoor plants have been shown to reduce cold-related illnesses by more than 30%. This is due to their effect of increasing humidity levels and decreasing dust. Releasing Water As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97 percent of the water they take in. Place several plants together, and you can increase the humidity of a room, which helps keeps respiratory distresses at bay. Studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs
House plants can contribute to a feeling of wellbeing, making you calmer and more optimistic. Studies have shown that patients who face a garden view in their hospital rooms often recover more quickly than those facing a wall.
Ever felt light-headed or sleepy at work? With so many breathing bodies in one space, high carbon dioxide levels can cause drowsiness and headaches and affect your concentration levels in the office. Enter pot plants, which absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and refresh the air by releasing oxygen through the foliage. University of Technology Sydney research found that in air-conditioned buildings, plants reduced carbon dioxide levels by about 10 per cent. In buildings that were not air-conditioned, this figure rose to 25 per cent.
Exposing children to allergens such as plants early in life can help them build a tolerance and immunity to the allergen. It works like a custom allergy shot, naturally.
Insomnia: Since plants give off oxygen, they can help improve your night’s sleep. Some plants, like gerbera daisies, release oxygen at night, so place them by your bed for optimal oxygen while you slumber.
How many hours a day do you spend indoors? Some urban dwellers can spend as much as 22 hours inside. And contrary to popular opinion, indoor air is more polluted than its outdoor counterpart, posing significant risks to our health.
How Many Plants?
The recommendations vary based on your goals.
To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet.
In office or classroom settings, position plants so each person has greenery in view.
To purify air, use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots for an 1,800-square-foot house. That’s roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4- to 5-inch pots).
Remember that for the best success with any houseplant, you need to match the right plant to the right growing conditions.
|Common Name||Benefit||Best Use|
|Spider plant||Purifies air rapidly; removes formaldehyde||Living spaces|
|Dragon tree||Purifies air; removes formaldehyde, benzene, toluene and xylene||Living spaces|
|Gerbera daisy||Releases oxygen at night; purifies air by removing benzene and trichloroethylene||Bedrooms to refresh nighttime air or living spaces|
|English ivy||Removes benzene from air||Dorm rooms or home office|
|Boston fern||Humidifies air||Living spaces; note that dry winter rooms can quickly kill Boston ferns; mist plants daily for best results|
|Philodendron||Purifies air; removes formaldehyde||Living spaces of new or renovated homes with new floors, walls, carpets, etc.|
|Snake plant||Purifies air; removes formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide produced by fuel-burning appliances||Living spaces, kitchens, rooms with wood stoves|
|Peace lily||Removes mold from air||Bathrooms or damp areas of home|