Today is National Houseplant Appreciation Day, a day to celebrate the joy and benefit of growing plants indoors. If you have the post-holiday blues, now’s a good time to brighten up your house with a lovely plant that you can enjoy all year long. Houseplants do more than just bring a splash of color indoors – they are really good for the indoor environment! With today’s homes being tighter and more energy efficient than ever, they can trap potentially harmful organic chemical pollutants commonly emitted by paints, cleaning supplies, building materials and furnishings, dry-cleaned clothing and more. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we Americans spend about 90% of our time indoors – that’s a lot of exposure to those undesirable pollutants. Just as trees are vital to the health of our outdoor environment, purifying the air and producing valuable oxygen for us to breathe, indoor plants perform the same beneficial functions on a smaller scale. A study done in the late 1980’s by NASA found houseplants were able to remove as much as much as 87% of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours. Of the plants evaluated, researchers came up with a list of easy to grow houseplants proven to reduce the most prevalent organic contaminants – formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. Chances are, all houseplants provide some level of air purification.
Houseplants come in a huge range of sizes, forms, colors, and textures. Many originate in tropical or sub-tropical forests growing well under the canopy of taller trees – relatively low light conditions similar to our indoor environments. Successfully growing houseplants starts with choosing the right plant for the location (adequate light, temperature, and humidity), planting in healthy soil in an appropriate container, then keeping it in shape with watering, feeding, grooming and pest management.