Written by Mike Wrede
In our new era of the COVID-19 generation, many people have looked to gardening as a new activity. There has been a big increase in people wanting to grow their own fruit and vegetables for the first time or have their yards looking colourful and fresh.
But now heading into the winter months, we are looking for another type of gardening, indoor gardening.
With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, more people are seeking indoor plants that are good for air purification.
We have a lot of toxins that are present in our homes, plants can help with the removal of toxins such as:
- Formaldehyde – found in clothing, furniture, wood products, laundry and dish detergent, bath soap, shampoo and body wash, pet products, gas stoves, hair straightening treatments
- Xylene – paints, solvents, cigarette smoke and some cleaning products
- Benzene – paints, glue, furniture wax, detergents, and some rubber soles on shoes
- Trichloroethylene – cleaning wipes, aerosol cleaning products, carpet cleaners, spot removers
- Carbon monoxide – gas stoves, open fireplaces, water heaters, central heating systems, warming your car in your garage
- Ammonia – household cleaners, furniture polish, floor polishing waxes, glass cleaner
- Toluene – bathmats, paints, paint thinner, floor polish, wood sealers, multi-purpose cleaners both liquid and aerosol
These are some of the main chemicals that exist in your home’s air. let’s look at some indoor plants that would be best for purifying your air.
(Epipremnum aureum) – Golden pothos is a trailing plant that can be grown in both a floor pot and hanging basket, it is easy to grow and can tolerate all levels of light. It will benefit your home by helping to remove most of the toxins above.
Pygmy Date palm
(Phoenix robelenini) – relatively easy to grow, they prefer a moderate light position and benefit from regular misting. It does a good job in removing formaldehyde and xylene from your air
(Spathiphyllum) – An easy to care for, beautiful green plant with white flowers, that is good in moderate to low light situations. They will remove most toxins listed above from your air
This group of plants will be great for removing formaldehyde, these easy to grow plants prefer bright indirect sunlight for best success and come in a number of different shapes and growth habits.
(Chlorophytum comosum) – a great plant for the newbie, this one is very easy to grow and is a trailing plant, but also can be grown in a floor pot. They will also produce babies on their new growth which can be removed and planted to start new plants. They prefer indirect sunlight but can thrive in just about any environment. Great for removing formaldehyde and xylene from your air.
Mums or disbud mums are a wonderful addition of flowering plants to your indoor garden, unfortunately, they are one of the most difficult to grow. However, these are considered one of the best air purifiers, so if you are up for a challenge, the payoff will be great. Their environment should include good air circulation with bright indirect light, water with warm water only, making sure to allow to fully dry between waterings.
(Ficus elastica) – a very hardy plant that likes bright to filtered light. This plant can grow quite large, so make sure you have enough space, does well at removing most all toxins from your air
(Nephrolepis bostoniesis) – a wonderful foliage plant for a hanging basket or floor pot, all ferns like humidity so regular misting and constant moisture would greatly benefit, place in indirect sunlight in a bright window for the best position. Great for removing formaldehyde and xylene from your air
(Chrysalidocarpus lutecsens) – one of the best air purifiers, and another indoor plant that can grow to a large size, so give it some room, moderate to indirect bright light is best and will benefit from regular misting
(Sansevieria) – probably the easiest indoor plant to grow, tolerant of all light conditions in your house, as they are from the succulent family, they prefer dry conditions, so if you miss a watering it will be ok. Will remove most of the toxins in your air.
This easy to grow succulent will produce brown spots on its leaves when chemical content in your air is high. Being a succulent, let this one go dry between waterings. Excellent for removing formaldehyde from your air.
(Anthurium) – with long-lasting blooms, this one can stay in colour for much of the year, it prefers a bright indirect sunlit environment, and likes humidity, a kitchen would be a good spot. Not one of the easiest plants to grow, but one of the only ones to remove toluene from your air
(Aglaonema) – a wonderfully easy to grow plant that does well in moderate to low light environments. Great for removing formaldehyde and xylene from your air
Listed above are some of the more common indoor plants you will find at your local garden center. Keep in mind, there are many other plants that will also remove toxins from your air. It is good to have a variety in your home to help clean the air of the numerous toxins that are persistent and invisible to us.
Care for your indoor plants
The most common problem with houseplants is inconsistent watering. Both too much water or too little can harm your plant. It is difficult to say how often to water, as there are many factors that lead to these problems. First, you need to know what type of plant you have. For example, cacti and succulents do not need to be watered as much as regular indoor plants and plants such as ferns require a little more moisture and constant humidity.
Other factors include pot size, position in your house, how warm or cool you keep your house, and soil type, to name a few.
I always recommend investing in a moisture meter, this will save you lots of expense in lost plants over the years. When I first started growing indoor plants, I drowned everything, moisture meters came to my rescue.
Soil is also very important, never use outdoor soil or an outdoor potting mix for inside, always use a well-draining sterile indoor potting mix.
When replanting, the general rule of thumb is potting into a new pot that is at least 2 inches wider in diameter. I prefer pots with drainage, but you can be successful with pots without drainage. Watering does become a bit more of a challenge here. I would recommend putting some gravel at the bottom of the pot to help with drainage and most definitely use a moisture meter to help you gauge when to water.
Fertilizer is also very important. These plants are not growing outside in their native environment, so you will need to supplement them with food. For most, once a month is all that is needed. During the winter, once every couple of months should be sufficient.
Good luck with your indoor gardening, try different plants and have fun with what you create indoors.
Store Manager, Hunters Garden Centre & Flower Shop