Purifying Houseplants

Feel Fine with Foliage…

plants1Whether you’re a treehugger or not, you’re probably aware that placing plants throughout your home is an easy, inexpensive decorating option. Plants can instantly brighten up a room, and with the proper pot you can fit your choice of foliage with any décor. What you may not know, however, is that plants can provide your home with more than just aesthetic benefits.

According to a study by the  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), plants can be used indoors to purify the air and improve indoor air quality.  Green foliage absorbs carbon dioxide and removes formaldehyde and volotile organic compounds (VOCs) – chemicals that are potentially dangerous to your health – leaving your home fresh and clean.  Because chemical-filled household cleaning products can pollute the air in your home, your disinfecting habits can actually do more harm than good.  In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even states the the air in your home can cause problems such as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, fatigue and even more serious health issues like asthma and lung cancer.  Placing plants in your home can help you get rid of impurities so that you and your family can breathe easy.

Most houseplants require only indirect sunlight and little care, so even those with a not-so-green thumb can easily grow them.  Some common, hardy houseplants are Ivy, Spider plant, Wax plant, Snake plant, Cacti, Aloe, and the flowering Bromeliad.  These silent assassins attack the pollutants in your home and thrive on very little attention, so you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the fresh air.


Top Tips


  • Find the right plant. It’s important to take into consideration your skill level when choosing your houseplants.  Beginners should stick with hardy foliage plants like cacti, succulents, spider plants and snake plants because they are quite easy to grow.

Although indoor plants usually require less maintenance, they do still need some care.  Most houseplants will be fine with a once-a-week watering, so if you don’t think that is possible for you, you may want to choose plants that don’t need as much moisture.  Cacti and succulents are able to go longer between watering.  Other plants may need more constant watering, so make sure you read the label on the plants before making your purchase.

The conditions of your home are important to take into consideration when it’s time to pick your plant.  Flowering plants like the Peace Lily generally need more sunlight than non-flowering plants, so if your home is limited on windows stick with green foliage.  Make sure you read the labels on your plants.  Find out where they come from so that you can decide whether or not the plant would be able to survive under the conditions of your home.  The tag will usually inform you on the proper temperatures and moisture levels for the plant, so you can find one that will fit with your own temperature comfort-level.  If your home is extremely humid go with tropical plants, while desert-based plants will flourish in drier climates.

  • Pick the perfect pot. The pot is what provides the connection between your plant and home décor.  Make sure you find a pot that you like and that matches your home so you don’t end up transplanting the plant several times, as this can be quite harsh on the plant.


plants2It’s important to buy durable pots.  Plastic pots often break easily, forcing you to toss them out, wasting money as well as materials.  Ceramic pots are long-lasting and aren’t made of the same chemicals as plastic.

Make sure the pot leaves room for the plant roots to spread out and grow.

Your pot should provide your plant adequate drainage.  If there is nowhere for excess water to go, the plant can “drown” or die of diseases like root rot.  Pots containing holes at the bottom should be placed on a dish or saucer that will catch any excess water that drains out.  Sometimes pots made for indoor plants don’t contain holes for drainage.  If you aren’t able to create one, add a layer of stones at the bottom of your pot.  You can use stones or pebbles from your yard or purchase them at any home store or nursery.  The space between the stones will create a place for the water to escape until it is eventually absorbed into the soil above.

Try purchasing pots at a thrift store.  Thrift store shopping is eco-conscious shopping because it gives old items a second cycle of use.  They usually have lots of options, and if you’re squeamish about buying things used…it’s just a pot you put dirt in.  Come on. 

  • plants3Location location location. Indoor plants don’t usually need direct sunlight, but it should be placed in well-lit rooms that provide adequate sun.  Again, flowering plants need more sunlight, so place them throughout your home accordingly.  The kitchen is often a well-lit room in most homes.


If you don’t think you have enough space in your place for potted plants, hanging plants are a beautiful way to incorporate foliage into your home without taking up precious space.


  • Maintenance. Because houseplants are generally low-maintenance, they need little more than good soil, some indirect sunlight and the appropriate amount of water.  You can, however, occasionally add some natural fertilizer to your plants.  Just make sure you don’t over-fertilize and “burn” them.


Other Considerations


  • Office air. Houseplants also thrive in office spaces, so bring them to your work for a little bit of a mood-lifter.  In addition to the natural light that you may have in your office, indoor plants will also benefit from the fluorescent lighting in office buildings.


  • Think of your pets. Some plants can be toxic to pets if they are ingested.  The most common houseplants – like those mentioned so far – are perfectly fine for pets, but if you’re thinking of branching out to more unusual plants, you should do a little research before purchasing them.  Lilies are known to be toxic to cats, while oleanders can be quite dangerous for dogs.  Just ask for assistance when buying plants you don’t know anything about. 




…to you

  • House plants are a beautiful way to decorate your home.  Flowering plants can provide your home with lots of color, but any kind of foliage will provide a beautiful focal point for any room.  Potted trees can bring dull corners to life…Literally!
  • Placing indoor plants in your home purifies and rids the air in your home of pollutants creating a healthier environment for you, your family and your pets. 


…to your wallet

  • Plants can actually help cool a room!  Placing lots of plants in your home can actually save you money on your cooling bills in the summer.
  • Most houseplants are quite inexpensive.  And because indoor plants require less water your indoor garden will save you money on your watering bills.

…to the earth

  • Plants are good for the earth…bottom line.  Plants – indoor our outdoor – clean and purify the air and improve oxygen levels.
  • Using plants for decoration rather than purchasing lots of man-made items for your décor limits waste that ends up in landfills.  You may think you need all those little nick-knacks, but sooner or later you will be tired of them, they will end up in the garbage, and then eventually in the landfill.  Plants provide an all-natural look that will never go out of style, and the only man-made item you have to buy is a pot, of which there are many to choose from at your local thrift store.


Further Reading


Indoor Air Quality

Healthy Lawns and Gardens

Home Performance and Indoor Air Quality Experts

Green Cleaning…Not Just for Spring

Photo Credits


Good Housekeeping

Apartment Therapy


  1. Christa Howl January 4, 2010
  2. Jade C January 4, 2010
  3. hug-a-tree January 4, 2010
  4. Alana January 4, 2010
  5. Yolanda Daigliar January 5, 2010
  6. Amber Garit January 5, 2010
  7. Shannon January 5, 2010
  8. marie-noelle January 15, 2010
  9. Naynaysnursery May 25, 2013

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