Indoor Air & Houseplants

Welcome to the most exciting week of the year: National Indoor Plant Week!

We often don’t take into consideration the quality of the air we breathe inside our homes.  However, often times the air quality is not what we think it is.  Homes have become more airtight in the quest to improve energy efficiency.  Home appliances, carpet, paint, electronics, textiles, cleaning agents will off gas which means products used in their manufacturing and natural break down will be released into the home environment.  Studies published in The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology and Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health have stated that houseplant and the associated microorganisms that live in the potting mix can have a positive impact on removing potential pollutants.

As you would suspect not all houseplants are the same.  Some plants are difficult to grow in an indoor setting.  Some plants do a better job removing than others.  NASA along with Dr. B.C. Wolverton compiled a list of plants that were studies for their ability to remove pollutants, ease of growth, potential pests, and amount of water vapor they release.

A happy circumstance that comes along with indoor plants is their ability to help the occupants to reconnect with nature.

Some of the plants that Dr. Wolverton recommend are:

  • Areca Palm
  • Lady Palm
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Rubber Plant
  • Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’
  • English Ivy
  • Boston Fern
  • Peace Lily
  • Corn Plant
  • Pothos
  • Syngonium (Arrowhead Vine)
  • Dumb Cane

There are many more plants out there to explore and you can find them in Dr. Wolverton book How To Grow Fresh Air ISBN 0-14-026243-1.  Take a look at some of these plants and see if they could be worked into your home or office environment.

Could Houseplants Improve Indoor air Quality in Schools? Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A

Potted-plant/growth media interactions and capacities for removal of volatiles from indoor air. The Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology.

Scott Evans
Scott Evans is a horticulture assistant with Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties. A certified arborist through International Society of Arboirculture and Nebraska Arborist Association. Scott is also Tree Risk Assessment Qualified through ISA. Scott co-leads the Master Gardener program in Douglas & Sarpy counties. Along with volunteer management he provides his expertise with disease and insect identification, lawn and landscape weed management, plant health, and I.P.M. practices. He also enjoys growing many houseplants ranging from African violets to cacti and succulents. Scott has two Bachelors of Science, one in Biology (emphasis in Botany, Ecology and Environmental Science) and second in Environmental Geology from Northwest Missouri State University. He earned his Master of Agriculture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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