The lowdown on houseplants that make our homes healthier

Grow common ivy like this in your home for healthier air

Grow common ivy like this in your home for healthier air

 

This post follows on from my previous Facebook post about formaldehyde in the air in our homes. This chemical is produced from scented products and recent scientific studies have shown how some house plants do a good job of removing this harmful chemical from the air that we breath (as shown on the BBC’s Trust Me I’m a Doctor). Formaldehyde and other VOCs (volatile organic compounds) can have potentially long-term health risks, so it’s a good idea to reduce their levels in the air that we breath in our homes.

We can reduce the level of these unhealthy chemicals by using fewer scented products and by opening our windows more often, but this last isn’t always an option in the winter. So keeping some house plants that can filter out these chemicals sounds like a good idea, particularly as some of these chemicals are also leaking into our homes from pollution outside, and from other sources such as our furniture.

KVGD has decided to save you the trouble of reading the research papers yourself (there are links to the actual papers from the BBC link above), and has gleaned from them two lists of the best houseplants for removing formaldehyde and other VOCs from the air in your home.

Good plants for removing VOCs from the air:

  1. Hemigraphis alternata (red ivy or waffle plant)
  2. Hedera helix (common or English ivy)
  3. Tradescantia pallida (spiderwort or wandering Jew)
  4. Asparagus densiflorus (asparagus fern)
  5. Hoya carnosa (porcelain flower or wax plant)

Good plants for removing formaldehyde from the air:

  1. Osmunda japonica (Japanese royal fern)
  2. Selaginella tamariscina (a fern)
  3. Davallia mariesii (squirrel’s foot fern)
  4. Polypodium formosanum (grub or caterpillar fern)
  5. Psidium guajava (guava)
  6. Lavandula spp (lavenders of all kinds)
  7. Pteris dispar (a fern)
  8. Pteris multifida (spider fern)
  9. Pelargonium spp (commonly, although misleadingly, known as geranium – why not try some of the many varieties of scented pelargoniums?)

The second list of plants is from a Korean-based research paper, which has probably influenced the varieties of plants used in the study. So I would suggest trying whichever of these plants are available to you and are suitable for the conditions in your home, and also the level of care that you are able to give them. Some plants such as lavender and pelargonium need plenty of light, so will need to be grown on a sunny windowsill. Others such as ferns and ivy need less light and would prefer to be out of direct sunlight.

If you are new to growing houseplants, ivy and wandering Jew are very easy to grow and would be good plants to start with. Plants don’t need much water in winter and, in fact, one of the errors beginners make is to overwater houseplants – so check to see that the pot isn’t sitting in water, which can make the roots rot.

So, why not make 2016 the year to make your home a healthier place by growing a few houseplants?

Disclaimer: The information given in this blog is very general and results can be affected by many kinds of local conditions, such as weather, soil, aspect, etc. The author therefore does not accept responsibility for any loss or failure as a result of following any suggestions given.

 

 

 

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