Houseplants – All Natural Air Purifiers

My latest craze – houseplants!  I read that two houseplants can purify the air of a 10 x 10 room.  So, a 2,000 square foot home would need approximately 15 to 20 houseplants to remove all the toxins from the air. So, I got 3 to 4 houseplants for our family room.  I figured I’d put the houseplants where we spend most of our time.  What’s the point of detoxifying the air in our living room when we’re never in it?  I also put one in my bedroom on my dresser .  Half my kids end up in my room anyway at night.   

Then I put one near our computer, on the floor in a big pot. Make sure you have holes in the bottom of your pots for drainage, as well as a matching plate to catch any excess water.  I tried to get the pots that had the plate already attached.

I also got one aloe vera plant, which received honorable mention as a good air purifier.  If you break off a “leaf”, the gel is inside and can be used on sunburned skin, or for cuts and bruises.  Works great.  Any plant will purify the air, but several in particular are known for their air purification properties.  You can also grow herbs in pots in your house, like parsley,basil, rosemary, etc. that will help the air quality, and you can use them in your recipes.

I got some of my plants from a nursery and the rest from Home Depot.  The nursery plants were more expensive, but they do look healthier.  Houseplants grow very quickly though so I don’t see the need to buy the bigger plants.  In just 3 weeks, my plants have grown a lot already.  If you don’t want them to get too big because of the size of your pot, or the area where you have them, you can just trim them. 

Most houseplants need a lot of sunlight, but read the labels at the store.  Some will say “Medium Light.”  I tried to stick with those.  However, all of my plants are growing and thriving, and some are in a lower lighted area than others.  The woman at the nursery had told me that a bedroom wouldn’t supply enough sunlight, but mine have been fine.  I do make sure that my blinds are open during the day though. 

So what kind of houseplants are best?  There are lists out there on the Internet that list the top 10 plants for detoxifying the air in your home.  I just went to my nursery and saw what they had.  They had about half of the plants that were on the list, and Home Depot only had about 2 or 3 to choose from.  The spider plant is a popular one, but it has these dangling plant parts that look like spiders, hence the name.  I hate spiders!  Why in the world would I want a plant that looked like a bunch of hanging spiders?  I guess some people like it. 

Then there are Ivy plants, and Pothos plants.  These are what I went with. I got some Golden Pothos from the nursery, and the ones from Home Depot were just called “Pothos.”  But, they were both listed as houseplants that purify the air and they both looked the same. Many of the plant tags also stated that they were good for use in new homes to help remove formeldahyde and other chemicals that get into the air from new carpet, mattresses, and paint fumes. 

(2014 Update: I got rid of the two Ivy plants I had. They both got small bugs all over them. The Pothos plants I have did not and are still alive and well! They do not seem to spread very much though so next time I would buy plants that were fuller. They vines just seem to grow longer, but don’t spread out much in the pot. The plant in my bedroom has done fine, except for the one weekend we went on vacation and I forgot to leave my room-darkening blinds open. They were looking awfully wilted when I got back but they quickly came back to life.) 

The woman at the nursery told me that 90% of houseplants are poisonous if eaten, so if you have pets (we don’t) or little ones, you should be careful, and wash your hands after planting them in your pots, or use gloves.  I tried to put the plants up on ledges or up higher where my 20-month old daughter couldn’t get into them, but I kind of doubt she would eat them anyway.  I could see a younger baby just starting to crawl and who mouths everything do something like that.  If my baby liked eating leaves, I’d be feeding her spinach and kale leaves at every meal.

If you read the label on the plants, it also says, “Produces oxygen and provides energy.”  I like the energy part.  OK, but how exactly does it provide energy?  Personally, I love gardening.  I like seeing that something is alive and growing and that I haven’t killed it yet!  That energizes me.  But, not sure how it affects other people.

However, what I hate about roses or other flowers?  They die!  It depresses me; like I killed them or something.  Even though I know that eventually they are going to die, no matter what I do.  So, I guess houseplants are a reminder of something that is alive, and that can be energizing.  And increased oxygen is always a good thing. 

Our old neighbor used to get migraines.  He signed up for some service that supplies oxygen through some kind of mask.  So, every time he gets a migraine, he calls them and they come out with their van and he receives oxygen.  They said they paid a lot of money for this service.  I should call them and tell them to buy some houseplants. 

I’ve heard of some oxygen bars that do the same thing.  You pay like $5 for a shot of oxygen and you’re supposed to feel a lot better.

It’s the same idea with HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy).  HBOT is one of the tools used to treat autism, as well as many other neurological issues.  It’s a chamber that provides 100% oxygen at a certain pressure.  It looks kind of like a tanning booth.  Kids go in them for around 20 minutes at a time.  Some kids have reportedly come out after several sessions talking, when they had been non-verbal before.  For other kids it can take longer, and they may see other improvements in their kids, like in their social skills. 

I would love to try it with my daughter but it is very expensive and you need to do many sessions.  You usually sign up for at least one “dive” a week they call it, if not more.  You can buy an HBOT chamber for about $20,000 and some people do because they would end up spending that much through their doctor (a holistic doctor) for all their sessions.  Some insurances cover some of the cost, but many do not.  You usually need to do several sessions before seeing improvements.  So anyways, if there is any way I can increase the amount of oxygen in my home, I’m all for it! 

I also like having trees in our yard.  It can be expensive so sometimes you just have to get the cheaper, smaller ones and wait patiently for them to grow.  Just buy the quick growing ones.  Any kind of plants or trees are going to produce oxygen.  Too bad we’ve cut down half the trees to build houses and businesses.  

That’s one reason why I don’t think I could ever live in downtown Chicago.  I always come home wanting to take a shower.  I feel like I have pollution all over me.  I’m sure it’s somewhat in my head, but I always feel like the quality of air is not good there. 

I try to keep our windows open as much as possible.  Living in the midwest, that’s not always possible in the winter.  We just had our air conditioner fixed and the repair guy told me that the newer houses built today are built so energy efficiently (lots of insulation), that they have to install a fresh air intake vent somewhere along the back of the house to allow some fresh air to get in.  

Otherwise, he said we would get what’s called “sick house”, where everyone would be getting sick from the stale air.  I’m sure that is the case now with many people anyway, even with these fresh air intake vents.  Every winter, I dream about living in Florida.  Here, we all know that winter means sickness, and that is partly because of no fresh air getting into the house. 

I also just got my air ducts cleaned in my house today, which they say you should do every couple of years.   It is expensive though.   We used Service Master because you want to use a reputable company.  You don’t want someone who just comes in and manually vacuums each vent.  They should have a big van and be pushing something through the vents while vacuuming dust and debris out.  

My cleaning lady said cleaning the ducts will drastically reduce the amount of dust in your home.  She should know!  She said she’s cleaned houses before and after duct cleaning, and she notices a big difference, so I’m sure it is improving the quality of air in your house.  Just don’t let them use any sanitizers or deoderizers in the ducts.  This would be adding chemicals into your air.  No thanks. 

I had them shampoo our carpets as well, but they supposedly used a “green” shampoo that had fewer chemicals than their regular stuff.  I’m not big on carpet cleaning because they tend to use harsh chemicals, but he assured me they were low VOC (no fumes) and very gentle.  I didn’t smell anything when they were done, so I was happy about that.  I’m very sensitive to the smells of cleaning supplies.  

Our home used to be a model home, so there were lots of people trampling through it with their shoes on, so I felt the need to clean them.  The Service Master salesman said if you have a dust allergy, the biggest thing you can do to alleviate the problem in your home is to clean the ducts and clean the carpets.  Now, whether he was just saying that to sell me his services, I don’t know, but it does make sense.  He also said using allergen protective covers on your pillows and mattresses also helps. 

So, that’s what we’ve been up to these days!  Don’t forget to water your houseplants about once a week, or whenever they seem dry.  I also read an article that said very seriously that plants do better if you are nice to them and play nice music.  How are you nice to a houseplant?  And I’m wondering how they’re going to like Yo Gabba Gabba music.  I think I’m going to wilt if I have to listen to Yo Gabba Gabba one more time!  

If any of you have had experience with houseplants, please share!  This is new to me and I’m hoping it is helping to clean the air in my house.

Anyways, happy breathing!

Written by Sheri Fortes - Visit Website

Author of "All Natural Mom's Guide to the Feingold Diet"

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  1. This is awesome! I just put two boston ferns and two snake plants in my living room (where we spend most of our time) and a boston fern in our bathroom. I am cheap, and I love ikea furniture, so we could really use the air purifying here! I also heard that gerbera daisies do the trick as well and they are gorgeous! I got those three just because I have a three year old who just started putting everything in his mouth…yes AGAIN! and these were supposed to be non poisonous. =) Thanks for sharing!

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