The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

In­door plants solve grow­ing gas prob­lem

Add a touch of green power to your home or workspace to re­duce the threat of chem­i­cal nas­ties


WE HAVE four frangi­pani plants in our gar­den (three in the front gar­den on the south­west side and one in the back gar­den on the north­east side). Each year in au­tumn/win­ter they lose their leaves. How­ever, as part of los­ing their leaves they de­velop a rust. These are bright yel­low pores on the un­der­side of the leaves. The leaves even­tu­ally turn black and fall off. When there are a lot of leaves on IT IS the smell you no­tice in a new car or the rea­son you feel com­pelled to open the doors and win­dows to let some fresh air into your home or of­fice.

Off-gassing of mod­ern ma­te­ri­als makes many of us sick, disrupts the thought pro­cesses and con­cen­tra­tion of oth­ers and cre­ates red itchy eyes and ir­ri­tabil­ity. Yet Aus­tralian re­search proves the an­swer could be as sim­ple as a few in­door the plant with the spores, if you touch the leaves they give off a yel­low dust.

Peter, Chapel Hill Rust dis­ease is en­demic in much of Queens­land. The sever­ity of the dis­ease is in­flu­enced by sea­sonal con­di­tions (early sum­mer rains) and the warmth and sun­shine the plant re­ceives. You are un­likely to be able to elim­i­nate rust dis­ease com­pletely, but may have some suc­cess in re­duc­ing the early on­set and sever­ity of plants. If Aus­tralia has any un­sung he­roes, Dr Mar­garet Burchett, is surely one of them.

A pro­fes­sor of plant science with spe­cial ex­per­tise in plant en­vi­ron­men­tal tox­i­col­ogy, she stud­ies how plants re­duce and ame­lio­rate pol­lu­tion in the soil, sed­i­ments and air. Her re­search is im­por­tant for big busi­ness, but also has sur­pris­ing rel­e­vance for the rest of us.

Our in­door en­vi­ron­ments in­fes­ta­tions by strength­en­ing the plant’s nat­u­ral dis­ease re­sis­tance through an ap­pli­ca­tion of sul­phate of potash. Treat trees with a fungi­cide while they are dor­mant and when the leaves first emerge. Your lo­cal nurs­ery will be able to ad­vise you on fungi­cide prod­ucts. I have a choko vine bear­ing fruit. When do we prune and how far back do we chop it?

Des, Crest­mead are filled with volatile or­ganic com­pounds found in plas­tics and glues, syn­thetic fab­rics, fab­ric pro­tec­tors, paints, clean­ing prod­ucts and myr­iad other items made from fos­sil fu­els. It is the smell you de­tect when you bring a new piece of fur­ni­ture home, lay new car­pet or paint a room.

The smell fades af­ter a while, but these prod­ucts do not stop giv­ing off toxic gases like ben­zene and toluene (they do so through­out the life of the item). The smell may fade but off-gassing still oc­curs at a slower, less de­tectable level.

The good news is Dr Burchett has dis­cov­ered how these air pol­lu­tants are bro­ken down Cut your choko back af­ter you harvest the fruit. Vines have a large, tuber­ous root sys­tem that the plant can draw nu­tri­ents from in or­der to re­gen­er­ate. If you cut the vine back to ground level, then fer­tilise and wa­ter it, it should reshoot, but prun­ing to ground level is not es­sen­tial. Could you please tell me when to harvest turmeric? I waited un­til the flow­ers had died be­fore at­tempt­ing to harvest some, but it was a and used as nu­tri­ents by plants. Plants view these con­tam­i­nants as a source of food and it is not just plants that are in­volved in the process. The mi­cro-or­gan­isms in pot­ting mix are par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive at ab­sorb­ing VOCs as nu­tri­ents.

All it takes is one healthy pot­ted plant in each av­er­a­ge­sized room to re­duce com­pounds to a neg­li­gi­ble level.

Rather than com­plain­ing about the cost of in­door plants in gov­ern­ment of­fices, we should be in­sist­ing on more plants.

Re­moval of volatile or­ganic com­pounds by plants from the air in in­door en­vi­ron­ments pro­motes bet­ter r pale colour in­stead of the dark or­ange I’ve had be­fore.

Joyce, Caloun­dra The colour of turmeric varies ac­cord­ing to the va­ri­ety planted (deep or­ange, pale yel­low and white va­ri­eties are avail­able). While the deep or­ange colour is the most pop­u­lar for cook­ing, all colours are re­ported to have sim­i­lar health ef­fects. Turmeric is tra­di­tion­ally har­vested dur­ing late au­tumn or win­ter or dur­ing con­cen­tra­tion, clearer think­ing and more ra­tio­nal de­ci­sion­mak­ing. One good po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion could pay the cost of in­door plant hire 10 times over.

Good op­tions for low-light and low-care sit­u­a­tions in­clude leafy green plants like Zanz­ibar Gem, spathiphyl­lum or peace lily, aglaonema, and devil’s ivy (Epiprem­num aureum).

Flow­er­ing plants need good light, but those that cope with ex­tended pe­ri­ods in­doors in­clude African vi­o­lets and an­thuri­ums and moth or­chids (Pha­laenop­sis species). Learn more about how plants clean up pol­lu­tants at in­te­ri­or­plant scape.asn.aus­cap the dry sea­son ini theth trop­ics.t opics This is when the plant be­comes com­pletely dor­mant and the fo­liage dies back to ground level. How­ever, turmeric can be har­vested at any time of year sim­ply by dig­ging up small sec­tions of rhi­zomes from es­tab­lished plants.

 ??  ?? FRESH AIR: Plants such as an­thurium can im­prove in­door en­vi­ron­ments.
FRESH AIR: Plants such as an­thurium can im­prove in­door en­vi­ron­ments.
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