Join the 70’s Houseplant Craze in 2019 for Your Health!
Back in the mid 1970’s, in my teens, I got caught up the houseplant craze, and that is where my love of horticulture began. Actually, it became an obsession, as at one point I had collected anywhere from 100 to 150 houseplants and starts—crowding every space possible in my small bedroom. I was not the only one, as the novelty of new and exciting tropicals was embraced in every home and garden magazine for decorative purposes. But just like bell bottom pants, polyester shirts and disco, houseplants eventually lost their mass appeal. Fast forward to today, and the houseplant craze has returned, luckily without polyester, bell bottoms and disco!
So why houseplants today? Tropicals bring part of the outdoors and nature into the home and office when the weather is cold, dark and dreary. But there is a new spin on the use and necessity for greenery indoors: they are good for overall health, partly because they bring “life” into an otherwise ‘stale’ indoor environment. Studies have shown having plants in your living and work spaces enhance your mood, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, while increasing a sense of wellbeing, positive calm energy and optimism. Studies have also shown that indoor plants can boost concentration and productivity levels up 15-45 %, as they uptake carbon dioxide and give back oxygen.
In addition to this though, one of the greatest benefits from certain plants, is their ability to purify the air by absorbing toxic materials.
“Peace Lily”–Spathiphyllum: Reduces ‘VOCS’ like ammonia from harsh cleaning products. This one also transpires a lot of water from its leaves, so it can add humidity to a dry home environment. Peace Lilies send out white blooms intermittently during the year.
“Rubber Plant”–Ficus elastica: Powerful toxin remover and air purifier of formaldehyde. This is a bold looking plant with large glossy leaves. It used to be the source for rubber.
“Parlor Palm”–Chamaedora elegans: NASA gives this a high score as an air cleaner—scrubbing out benzene and trichloroethylene (chemical used in dry cleaning).
“Boston Fern”–Nephrolepis exaltata: Removes formaldehyde and xylene, and like other air scrubbers, it breaks down pollutants in its root system. This is the classic indoor fern that has been around since the Victorian era.
“Snake Plant/Mother in Law Tongue”–Sansevieria trifasciata: This plants works hard for you at night, absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, so add one of these to your bedroom décor. Studies have shown this can be effective in treating headaches, eye irritation, respiratory issues, and also boost energy levels. This is probably one of the easiest plants to grow, as it thrives on neglect.
“Pothos”–Epipremnum aureum: Another great formaldehyde toxin scrubber. Golden Pothos is a very popular, easy to grow hanging plant.
“Spider Plant”–Chlorophytum comosum: This power player fights off pollutants including benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene. Spider Plants are a definite 70’s plant that should be included in today’s home.
“English Ivy”–Hedera helix varieties: NASA lists this as the number one purifier to absorb formaldehyde. It also can reduce airborne molds by up to 94 %. Choose smaller leafed varieties for indoor use, to keep it under control.
“Medicinal Aloe”–Aloe vera: Aside from its healing properties, this plant can also monitor a home’s air quality. When there are excessive toxins present, the plant’s leaves develop brown spots. As with all succulents (water storing plants), less frequent watering is best.
“Gerber Daisy”–Gerbera jamesonii: This plant removes trichloroethylene and filters out benzene. Gerbers develop large, cheery, daisy like flowers. These may not have the longevity of some of the above listed plants, but they do give vivid color indoors temporarily, and then can be moved outdoors for container gardening.
By MARK ERICKSON