In the Garden:
Western Mountains and High Plains
February, 2013
Regional Report

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Thriving houseplants can not only add beauty but help cleanse the indoor air.

Houseplants Help To Clean Indoor Air

A house would not be a home without living houseplants. They add color, beauty, dimension, and warmth and are helpful in the household cleaning. That's right; houseplants play an important role in cleaning the air we breathe.

As plants produce their own food through a process called photosynthesis, they take carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen. Photosynthesis refreshes and "cleans" the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and taking in certain other pollutants.

A NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) study discovered as much as 87 percent of pollutants found in spacecrafts, were removed by certain houseplants. These toxins included benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, pollutants that are readily emitted from home and office furnishings and various building materials. Tobacco smoke, synthetic fibers, inks, oils, gasoline, plastics, rubber, detergents and paints contain and emit pollutants as well. As our dwellings have become more tightly sealed for energy conservation, indoor pollutants have become more prevalent.

Continuous exposure to indoor pollutants can cause skin and eye irritation, may result in headaches, and incite allergies. Some toxins may be carcinogenic. Houseplants studied by NASA are known to be effective in removing indoor air pollutants. Many are quite colorful and attractive and are easy to grow in your home.

Here's a list of some of the easy-to-grow houseplants known to clean the air:azalea, corn plant (Dracaena fragrans), Madagascar dragon tree (D. marginata), golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum), peace lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), chrysanthemum, English ivy (Hedera helix), gerbera daisy, and mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria). Also included are Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema 'Silver Queen') and flamingo flower (Anthurium 'Wardii'), both of which are tough plants that tolerate a wide range of growing conditions.

It is important to select the right plant for the right place. Many factors contribute to the health and well being of indoor plants, including light exposure, duration of light, humidity, and temperature. Even within a room, these factors may vary. When you get ready to buy houseplants, be sure to find out about their needs. Choosing plants that fit the conditions you can provide makes for healthy, trouble-free indoor plants that pay the biggest dividends in cleaning the air and delighting your eye.


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