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  • Writer's picturecathy king

Purifying House Plants

As I begin to think about the winter season and the fact that I will undoubtedly spend more time indoors, it is a great time to think about indoor air quality. While commerce is pushing indoor air purifiers, which have their place, I would like to offer an alternative for you to think about. Purifying indoor plants, which are often easier to care for than you might think, can naturally increase indoor air quality.

But, let’s be honest, who needs one more thing to take care of? Full disclosure, I used to be a natural-born indoor plant killer. I would forget to water them, not fertilize them, and place them in spots that would ensure the lowest survival rate. With experience, I have learned some tips and tricks to help indoor plants survive, even if you do not necessarily have a green thumb, nor time to take care of one more thing.

Fun Facts:

· Some ordinary household plants may remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene These are chemicals used to make plastic resins, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, composite wood, adhesives, paint etc. The list goes on and includes many ordinary items that we do not think about affecting indoor air quality. I consulted the following link, which is a NASA study on plant filtering capabilities. Beware, it is not light reading.

· It is recommended that you have one to two plants per 100 square feet of living space. That being said, I am a proud plant mom to 20 types of plants in my approximately 1800 square foot home. While this may seem like a lot to care for, I have created a routine that allows them to thrive with minimal effort on my part. Yes, I have had a couple of casualties here and there, but most are doing well and I have learned valuable lessons from the plants that did not make it.


· Set a watering reminder in your phone or calendar for once a week. I have a reminder in my phone for Sunday morning to water the plants. Reminders make plant watering more intentional.

· Set a fertilizer reminder in your phone or calendar for once a month. This reminder follows the watering reminder in my phone. Some plants may require more or less, in which case you can add this detail to your reminder. I pretty much give all of my plants the same treatment of water and fertilizer.

· Lighting will be dependent on the plants you choose.

You will notice in my pictures that I have some plants in the windows, but I also have some plants under floor lamps. The floor lamps have been adapted with plant growing LED light bulbs and they work perfectly. The floor lamps are on timers to ensure that the plants get a minimum and maximum amount of light exposure (three to seven hours). This picture is from my bathroom where my pendant lights have “grow” light bulbs in them. My Boston Fern plant has never been happier.

· Water spikes, or terracotta spikes, are a great solution to help prevent over watering. Additionally, they are helpful for watering your plants while you travel. I have several that work well in my bigger pots. Overwatering your plants can drown them and cause rotting of the roots.

· Remember when watering your plants, you should water toward the outer edge of the pot, and not directly onto the plant, as it will drown the roots and cause plant rot.


If you have pets, please check plant safety guidelines from ASPCA for the safety of your pets.

· If you have small children, the following blog provides additional guidance on plant selection.

Attached is a list of plants that come highly recommended as indoor air purifiers. The pictures are all from my house, and I have included notes from my personal experience and research. It is still a work in progress, but I hope it encourages you to give it a try. It will be a breath of fresh air.


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