My mind is telling me, no. No, you don't need any more plants, and no, you definitely don't have space for them. But my room; my room is telling me yes.
Cacti. Palm Prints. Succulents. I don't know whats happened this year but there are days when I think I've woken up on a gloomy day in Hawaii, not East London. Corners of my room resemble the jungle. I spend more time and money on foliage than I do clothing myself. And now I'm spending my Saturday night writing about plants.
House plants, succas and cacti add effortless atmosphere to a home. Their intense colours and delicate detail and the way even the smallest plant studs a room with instant character are just a few reasons why they've become more popular than selfie sticks this year (let's keep it that way, please + thanks). But not only do they look good, they also have the ability to cleanse, detoxify and purify the air that we live in.
Poor air quality isn't generally a persons main concern. We all know that traffic/smoke/fumes/chemicals etc pollute the air in which we breath, but most people assume that when we're cooped up indoors, we're generally pretty safe. However, in some cases, indoor air can be more polluted than that outside. And since studies show that people spend up to 90% of their time indoors (this study is clearly based on people in the UK as, if we could, I'm sure we'd all be on the beach), our indoor environments should be as safe as possible.
. Cooking can fill the house with smoke and steam, and when this evaporates or settles, it can encourage a build up of bacteria and germs. Cooking can cause the release of excess moisture into the air, increase dampness, and produce dangerous pollutants such as carbon monoxide. Germs and bacteria will thrive in this kind of atmosphere, which is why ventilation is so vital.
. Hot showers also produce a lot of steam, especially in poorly ventilated bathrooms, which can encourage the growth of mould, excess moisture and stubborn germs.
. Household cleaning products, decorating products like wax, oils and paints, cosmetics, air fresheners and things like insect repellants can also contribute to the build up of threatening chemicals in our homes and workplaces. A study by the Environmental Working Group identified over 450 air contaminants within 21 household products. Some people think that as long as we aren't spraying these into our mouths, there is no real concern. However, we will breath in the air in which these chemical diffuse, and we will touch things like surfaces/carpets/walls which have been sprayed or 'cleaned' with such products.
Your home or workplace could be having severely detrimental effects on your health, being responsible for or contributing to things like as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, respiratory irritations, stress, mood swings and dry skin. So, now that i've made you feel incredibly claustrophobic and on the verge of suffocation as you sit at your laptop in what was once an innocent place of comfort, I'll give you some tips on the easiest way to cleanse the air. You can improve your ventilation systems, open your windows at least once a day to encourage circulation of fresh air, buy your cleaning products more responsibly - ensuring they are as natural as possible (you can even make your own with things like vinegar and lemon juice) - and, this one's my favourite: buy some plants. They will right all the wrong going on indoors. Things like poor ventilation, dust build up, dampness and moisture contaminate the air around us. The good news is that, like pretty much everything on this planet, there is an inexpensive, natural solution. Certain plants absorb some of these damaging particles from the air at the same time as they take in carbon dioxide, which is then processed into oxygen. They can help to purify and renew the air and renew energy, as well as getting rid of damaging pollutants such as formaldehyde [a compound found in many products, from plywood and paneling, to cleaning products and shampoos], benzene [a compound in the air from emissions caused by burning coals or oils and also found in products like waxes, resins, oils, inks, paints and plastic, among other things], carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, toxins, bacteria and viruses.
C L E A N S I N G H O U S E P L A N T S
FIDDLE LEAF FIG TREE
. Helps | clean indoor air.
. Needs | bright, indirect light and to be watered every so often. You will know if it needs more light, as it will begin to grow towards the light. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Fertilise monthly. Dust often - their large leaves collect dust easily, so keep them clean.
SPIDER PLANT [CHLOROPHYTUM]
. Helps | remove formaldehyde and xylene.
. Needs | Bright, indirect sunlight. Do not let the soil dry out. In the first year after purchasing, water occasionally, and thereafter, water moderately.
. Helps | remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene. However, these plants can be toxic to animals.
. Needs | Low light, and low humidity. Water whenever the top two inches of soil feel dry. It is an undemanding plant. Wipe the leaves to keep clean, as removing any dust will open up the pores and allow the plant to exchange air freely.
. Helps | Ivy is one of the most affective plants at absorbing formaldehyde, as well as other harmful substances. It is also known to filter out airborne fecal-matter particles.
. Needs | bright light and to be kept on the dry side.
. Helps | eliminate bacteria and reduce radiation. Cacti absorb carbon dioxide at night to release oxygen, renewing the oxygen in our indoor air.
. Needs | to be kept relatively dry. During their growing season, water once a week, or every two weeks. When the weather is cooler, water less, as cacti go enter a rest period after the warmer months.
. Helps | by removing formaldehyde and acting as a natural humidifier. Bamboo can grow incredibly tall and is one of the best plants at filtering pollutants from the air.
. Needs | full, bright sunlight.
. Helps | by removing pollutants such as formaldehyde and benzene.
. Needs | Indirect light and watering only when the soil has completely dried out.
. Helps | by acting as a natural air humidifier, removing formaldehyde and is know to be one of the best plants for purifying the air.
. Needs | to stay relatively moist. Check the soil daily and water to keep moist. Give it a good soak once or twice a month too.
. Helps | remove formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene.
. Needs | watering every so often. You can usually tell by the condition of the leaves. When they begin to wilt, water the plant. Loves indoor, indirect sunlight. A very low-maintenance plant - a lazy gardeners dream.
. Helps | remove chemicals and toxins from the air, and emits high levels of oxygen.
. Needs | semi sun, semi shade.
. Helps | purify the air.
. Needs | indirect sunlight and irregular watering. Be careful not to overwater.
SWISS CHEESE PLANT / MONSTERA
. Helps | has good all round air cleaning properties and is particularly good at humidifying air conditioned environments.
. Needs | Bright, indirect light. Water only when the soil is dry.
. Helps | at general air purifying and removing formaldehyde.
. Needs | Water only when the soil surface is dry. Keep in moderate-bright natural light.
. Helps | General air purifier, especially as it grows larger.
. Needs | watering often enough to keep the soil relatively moist.
. Helps | filtering out formaldehyde and other air pollutants.
. Needs | low light and relatively humid conditions.
. Helps | clear formaldehyde and benzene. Aloe releases oxygen and even absorbed carbon dioxide at night - meaning it cleanses the air for us whilst we sleep! The leaves of the plant become speckled with white dots as a warning, when the amount of toxins in the air exceed a healthy level. The plants can also be used physically for its gel - which you can obtain by snapping the leaves. The gel can heal cuts and infections and help to cool and sooth irritations such as sunburn or rashes.
. Needs | to be kept in a sunny spot. Watering every so often, but not too much. There is more danger of aloe being overwatered than under watered, as they like dry soil. Water every 1-2 weeks, only when the soil is completely dry. Water event less in the wintertime.
P L A C E S F O R P L A N T S | L O N D O N
Grace & Thorn / House Of Hackney / The Green Room / That Flower Shop / Petersham Nurseries / Columbia Road Flower Market / Botany Shop E5 / Angel Flowers