Green House

If you dream of ex­plor­ing trop­i­cal jun­gles, take the first step and in­vest in some house­plants.

Good - - HOME - Words Kahu de Beer

Turn your house into a trop­i­cal jun­gle

Idon’t know if it’s my ob­ses­sion with green smooth­ies or my love of na­ture, but there’s just some­thing about the colour green that makes me happy – it’s so fresh and alive. So it’s no sur­prise there’s a lot of green­ery around my house.

Green plants are ac­tu­ally the ideal house com­pan­ions, from mak­ing the air more breath­able, to adding beauty. In many de­vel­oped coun­tries, it is es­ti­mated that peo­ple spend around 90 per cent of their time in­doors, and in­door air pol­lu­tion is be­com­ing a se­ri­ous health con­cern. As well as the most ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion of get­ting out­side more, in­vest­ing in some house­plants is a great way of mak­ing our time spent in­side much health­ier, and hap­pier too. Plants re­lease oxy­gen into the air and fil­ter out tox­ins, such as ben­zene and formalde­hyde, that are present in­doors. Plus they also re­lease phy­to­chem­i­cals, which sup­press mould spores and bac­te­ria in the air.

In the late 1980s, NASA and the As­so­ci­ated Land­scape Con­trac­tors of Amer­ica did a study on house­plants as a way of pu­ri­fy­ing the air in space fa­cil­i­ties. They found that a num­ber of house­plants were par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in re­mov­ing volatile or­ganic com­pounds (car­bon-based chem­i­cals) found in in­door air.

So how ex­actly do plants clean our air? Well, it’s like magic re­ally… their leaves break down the toxic chem­i­cals into non-toxic com­po­nents that can then be used by the plant (not dis­sim­i­lar to how our liv­ers rid tox­ins from our bod­ies). Then any resid­ual chem­i­cals are fur­ther taken into the root sys­tem and the sur­round­ing soil, where soil micro­organ­isms con­tinue to break down the sub­stances – how beau­ti­fully ef­fi­cient.

Shar­ing your home with plants is not just good for your phys­i­cal health but your men­tal and emo­tional well­be­ing too. They have been shown to lower stress and anx­i­ety lev­els and im­prove our over­all well­be­ing. Plants lift our spir­its and bring a sense of cel­e­bra­tion. We could all do with a lit­tle more of that.

Ideal house­plants

Snake plant (San­se­vieria tri­fas­ci­ata) Very tol­er­ant, happy to be ne­glected for weeks at a time. One of the best plants for fil­ter­ing out formalde­hyde, which is com­mon in clean­ing prod­ucts, toi­let pa­per, tis­sues and per­sonal care prod­ucts. Will thrive in rooms such as the bath­room where there is low light and hu­mid con­di­tions. You may also want to put one or two in your bed­room as they ab­sorb car­bon diox­ide and re­lease oxy­gen at night – the op­po­site of when most plants fol­low this process. Na­tive to trop­i­cal West Africa. Golden pothos (Epiprem­num au­reum) Hardy plant that does well in low light and does not like di­rect sun­light. These re­move car­bon monox­ide and formalde­hyde from the air. Great ad­di­tion to a bath­room or of­fice be­cause of their low light tol­er­ance. Keep soil rel­a­tively moist – they have a shal­low root sys­tem that doesn’t re­quire ex­ces­sive wa­ter­ing. Na­tive to French Poly­ne­sia.

Bos­ton fern (Nephrolepis ex­al­tata)

The most ef­fec­tive plant for re­mov­ing air­borne tox­ins. Re­moves more formalde­hyde per hour than any other air-pu­ri­fy­ing plant. This plant thrives best in a cool place with high hu­mid­ity and in­di­rect light. Make sure soil re­mains damp – dry soil is the num­ber-one rea­son these ferns die. Soak once a month or so. Na­tive to trop­i­cal re­gions through­out the world.

Fid­dle leaf fig (Fi­cus lyrata)

Fid­dle leaf figs like it bright for as much of the day as pos­si­ble, but do not like to be in di­rect sun­light. Wa­ter when top inch of soil be­comes dry. When roots be­gin to grow out of the bot­tom of the pot, either re­pot into a con­tainer that’s slightly larger or trim the root ball – but not ex­ces­sively – to keep it from get­ting too big. Be­cause the leaves are so large, they tend to ac­cu­mu­late dust; sim­ply wipe clean with a soft cloth. Na­tive to West­ern Africa.

Desert cacti (Cac­taceae)

There are hun­dreds of va­ri­eties of desert cacti. These plants en­joy lots of sun­light and warmth but not hu­mid­ity (so avoid the bath­room). Al­low the soil to dry out be­tween wa­ter­ings, lit­tle wa­ter­ing is re­quired dur­ing win­ter to give them a cool, dor­mant pe­riod to flower. Cacti are ex­cel­lent at elim­i­nat­ing bac­te­ria as well as re­duc­ing ra­di­a­tion. Like the snake plant, cacti ab­sorb car­bon diox­ide at night and re­lease oxy­gen, mak­ing them a good choice for your bed­room. Na­tive to the arid re­gions of the Amer­i­cas and sur­round­ing is­lands.

Golden Pothos (Epiprem­num au­reum) I can han­dle low light so I make a great ad­di­tion to the bath­room or of­fice.

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