Living with houseplants clears the air


Lowly houseplants may take a backseat to their hardy outdoor cousins when it comes to size. However, even a master gardener cannot deny their important place in our lives.

Many varieties of houseplants can clean indoor air of pollutants that can cause a range of health problems. Given their unique function, even NASA scientists have experimented with houseplants for air purification in space.

The air-cleaning miracle happens because plants absorb pollution through small leaf pores and organisms living in the potting soil.

So it would seem that people who spend most of their time indoors would do themselves a favor by having a number of plants throughout their homes. Seniors certainly fall in this category after retirement as we enjoy having more leisure time at home.

Scientists believe plants are particularly useful in spaces where there is little outside ventilation. Health care facilities and senior centers that have an enclosed solarium or atrium court feature normally fill them with many green potted plants to provide oxygen to clear the air.

Although small and barely noticed, potted houseplants make a large contribution to our well-being when they help to reduce dust particles, smoke, and paint fumes. Airborne contaminates can often cause headaches and irritate asthma and other respiratory conditions, whereas adding some indoor plants can begin removing pollution almost immediately.

The plants used for air quality purposes are leafy and dark green, not fussy delicate flowery kinds, a feature that especially appeals to men who would like to have plants in their office, den or computer room. There is one variety with long, narrow leaves commonly labeled Mother-in-Law’s Tongue on the recommended list.

Others include peace lily, English ivy, asparagus fern, Janet Craig, devil’s ivy and weeping fig. These, plus others that a retail plant location can suggest, can fight pollution.

Whether you have green thumb or not, keeping house plants is relatively easy. The expert I contacted said potted plants need only indirect light, watering, and a slow-release fertilizer of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which is available in one package.

After choosing the plants, place a saucer or sealed pot under them at home to protect furniture. Also, avoid using very large containers if you have pets; a cat or dog may be tempted to use the potting soil for their own personal backyard.

Getting in the habit of buying plants rather than flowers is a step toward having effective air filters throughout your home. If needed, a small arrangement of artificial flowers can be added for color.

Plants make excellent gifts and are inexpensive. They can easily be moved from place to place and change the decor of a room, or used as the centerpiece of a dinning table.

Doctor and dentist offices often have plants in them to help create a relaxed atmosphere.

Plants also seem to add “life” to a room and can give seniors a sense of purpose.

Las Vegas resident Carolyn Schneider is the author of the book “Bing: On the Road to Elko” about her uncle Bing Crosby and his 15 years as a Nevada cattle rancher. She may be reached at 702-240-8570 or artist71635@msn.com to order the book.