With the increase in energy-efficiency in new homes, indoor air pollution is on the rise. Buildings are being sealed tighter to restrict outside air exchange in order to lower heating and cooling costs. While this does reduce energy consumption, the recirculated air can accumulate a host of pollutants which come from everyday products and activities.
Research conducted by NASA has demonstrated that various plants have rather impressive air-cleaning abilities. In general, NASA found that plants that can grow under low light conditions and have large leaves are the most effective at removing indoor pollutants. Spider plants, Peperomia, Schefflera, pothos, Dracaena, and Aloe are some of the best “air purifiers”.
Maintaining healthy houseplants will help them perform this important "air-cleaning" task most effectively. The easiest way to ensure that your houseplants remain healthy is to understand their preferred growing conditions. There are many different types of indoor plants and each has its own optimal light conditions, water requirements, and temperature levels. If you provide them with the right conditions, they will reward you with their beauty and some clean, pure air.
Click for specific growing conditions for some common houseplants.
More houseplants are probably killed due to improper watering than anything else! The rate of water loss and thus the need to water your houseplants depends upon temperature, humidity, and light levels as well as the type of plants you have. Thus, it is hard to set a strict watering schedule.
Know the requirements of your plants and use the “touch method” to evaluate soil moisture and the need (or not) to water.
- Press the tip of your finger down about 1/4” into the soil.
- A cool, damp feeling indicates there is still adequate moisture in the soil
- A dry feeling indicates that you should water.
- If you have a lot of house plants, consider getting a watering wand you can use indoors!
Fresh potting soil contains a reservoir of nutrients but as your plants grow, they absorb this “food” and the nutrients eventually need to be replenished with fertilizers. Fertilizer for houseplants comes in many different forms.
- Dissolving powders are one of the most economical ways to fertilize your houseplants.
- Fertilizer spikes and slow release fertilizers are even more convenient and easy to use for your potted plants. Bayer Advanced makes plant spikes for indoor and outdoor potted plants that control certain insect pests and also contain a slow-release fertilizer.
- Liquid fertilizers are also popular and easy to use.
Dust and dirt on leaves block light and reduce photosynthetic activity. This causes decreased vigor and gradual decline in the plants. There are many ways to clean your houseplants.
- Larger plants can be put directly in the sink or shower and sprayed with water.
- Smaller and more delicate plants can be turned upside down (use your hands to hold back the soil) and dunked and swirled around in a sink or bucket of water.
- Always let the leaves dry completely before exposing them to direct sunlight.
- For a glossier surface, wipe the leaves with a piece of soft cheesecloth