Plants & Indoor Air Quality

In the current wave of “houseplant mania”, it’s important to remember that houseplants provide numerous benefits in addition to adding amenity to the indoor landscape.  Scott Evans, Horticulture Program Coordinator for Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties reports that water vapor given off via transpiration is a big plus for the indoors, as well as their capacity to absorb potentially harmful gasses such as formaldehyde, ammonia, bioeffluents and volatile organic compounds.

Some “quick keys” to keeping them thriving:

*Allow water to drain out from the bottom of the pot.  Get rid of decorative foils if need be.

*Use a drip tray or saucer to catch drainage water and prevent damage to furniture.

*Avoid misting with a hand mister; it only helps the plant for about 10 minutes and creates water spots on the leaves.

*Instead, use a room humidifier to boost humidity constantly and group plants together to facilitate the natural transpirational process from one plant to help the others.

*Windows can be cold; place your hand between the window and the plant.  If your hand is cold, then the plant is too cold.

*Keep plants away from heating vents.

Plant Lighting Preferences:

Low Light – arrowhead vine, Chinese evergreen, philodendron, pothos, snake plant.

Medium Light – Boston fern, corn plant, croton, dumbcane, English ivy, Norfolk Island pine, rubber plant, schlefflera, spider plant, peace lily

High Light – ficus, kalanchoe, wax begonia, holiday cacti, parlor palm, prayer plant, areca palm, geranium

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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