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Grow Fresh Air

Grow Fresh Air In Your Home

Our long cold-weather season means that we spend an enormous amount of our time indoors. Modern building materials and designs often result in toxic air and super-insulated houses with poor ventilation. Added to the low humidity of most homes, dangerous volatile compounds from household chemicals, and the constant release of fumes from furnishings, this equation results in an unhealthy environment. However, there is a simple and beautiful remedy for this dire situation.

NASA has had to develop systems to purify the air in the International Space Station and planned lunar bases. To simulate our terrestrial atmosphere in tightly closed space vehicles they extensively studied how living plants purify air on earth. After more than twenty five years of research they have categorized 50 houseplants according to their ability to remove chemical vapors, transpiration rate of water and oxygen, ease of growth, and resistance to insect infestations.

How To Grow Fresh Air by B. C. Wolverton is a wonderful book that describes the problem of indoor pollution and the solutions found in houseplants. This is great information that any of us can put to good use in homes, offices, and studios. The author presents everything you need to know about caring for these natural air purifiers. And the book has gorgeous photographs of over fifty plants. I’ll list a few that are among the best.

It’s interesting that the top three plants are in the Palm (Arecacae) family. Lady, Areca and Bamboo palms earn an 8.5 rating on a scale of 10. They are exceptional at removing chemical vapors, transpiration rate, and ease of growing. Because of their natural size they are suitable for larger rooms.

Closely following the palms is the well known Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta). This one is very easy to grow with a rating of 8. It’s large flat leaves are super at detoxifying the air. The straight single stem form is especially attractive. I once had a six feet tall beauty; I air-layered it several times and the offspring grew easily.

The Dracaenas are in the 7.0 – 7.5 category. The “Janet Craig” variety earns top honors for removing trichloroethylene and other common toxins. The “Corn Plant” is popular in contemporary decors and office buildings. My favorite Dracaena is the Marginata maybe because it’s blood red color gives it the moniker “Dragon Tree”.

And then there is the ubiquitous Pothos. Probably the easiest of all houseplants to grow, the Golden variety of this pretty vine rates a 7.5. I have these plants all over my house and studio. They grow like crazy and are easily maintained in semi-shade conditions. They readily make new plants from cuttings so you can always have more.

Make your indoor environment healthy and beautiful with a few of these amazing natural air purifiers. Most of these plants are available at local nurseries and big box stores. They are generally easy to care for, however they don’t all like the same growing conditions. Consult books like How To Grow Fresh Air for advice on caring for the species you have. Or google the information on line.

What a great gift idea! Give someone you care about an attractive living companion for the holidays.