When plants are placed indoors they provide a pleasing effect on the decor, but research has shown they have a positive effect on the indoor air quality as well. Through the natural process of photosynthesis, plants absorb and process chemicals in the air – not only carbon dioxide but also many of the harmful pollutants that lead to poor indoor air quality in homes and offices. These chemicals – VOCs, formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia, and others – leech from paints and varnishes, cleaning products and pesticides, even floors and carpets – often for years after they are installed.
The Top Ten
A pioneering research study at NASA has shown that certain air purifying plants remove specific chemicals, while others are effective at absorbing a range of pollutants. While the research suggests that plants in general have a beneficial effect in creating a safe and healthy home or office, there are ten plants in particular that were deemed especially effective in the study:
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Selection and Placement
Choosing indoor plants should be made with consideration for the light and ventilation conditions where they will be placed, as well as interior decor and occupancy of the room. Sometimes a trial and error process must be used to determine which plants will survive in particular locations.
While all plants require light to function and live, many indoor plants originated in the dense shade at the floor of tropical rain forests – with their high rate of photosynthesis (and typically dark green leaves), they are ideal to be placed in darker corners of the home.
Houseplants that require more light will need to be placed near a window or under several hours of indoor lighting. South-facing windows will provide the longest period of natural light, and fluorescent lighting and/or grow bulbs tend to provide the best artificial light source.
Try to avoid placing indoor plants where there are drafts from heating and cooling vents – they tend to not perform well, especially when the heater is running.