Why is it that after every refreshing weekend trip you dread coming back to the city? Maybe it had to do with the people you met, the great food, the water you consumed or perhaps the quality of unpolluted fresh air every pore of your body relished, away from the city!
While it may not be possible to bring back most of the things, you may just be able to raise the levels of pure oxygen at home. Read on to know more about indoor plants and how they affect you, you near and dear ones, and your surroundings.
Are you the type who loves plants? Plants that are grown indoors whether in the office or residence spaces are known as house-plants. These are known to have various benefits ranging from purifying the air at home to positive psychological effects. Not only are they therapeutic, but also beautiful to decorate your home with. There are lots of plants that you can keep at home and we have listed the benefits of having indoor plants for you.
What plants work best for indoors?
Choosing the perfect plants for growing indoors depends on a few factors:
- Your lifestyle – for eg if you travel a lot choose plants that need less watering (succulents and cacti), if you are a no-fuss person or not naturally gifted with a green thumb choose easy-to-care-for, hardy varieties (Crotons, Petunias, Dragon trees)
- Where you live – urban congested city dwellers would do best to choose ‘detox’ plants that naturally clean the pollutants from the air (English Ivy, Spider plant, Aloe Vera)
- Space – can space accommodate big pots or small pots?
- Location – the plants need to be matched to the lighting available (natural and artificial). For low lit areas choose plants that need 250 or lower footcandles – Pothos, Bamboo Palm, Philodendron)
- Humidity levels – It is important to remember that indoor air is less humid than the outdoors. Additionally, if you live in a dry city choose plants that need less humidity like cacti and in the case of more humid locations, tropical plants will thrive best. Some rooms like the bathroom are best for plants that thrive in high air-moisture levels.
- Pets and children – Most plants are safe and the handful that are ‘poisonous’, if chewed or crushed by inquisitive little ones or pets, may cause skin rashes, allergic reactions, upset stomachs etc. such as Dumb Cane, Poinsettias Climbing Vine Plant, Easter Lilly, English Ivy etc.
What are the advantages of keeping indoor plants?
Beyond beautifying the space bringing nature indoors has a wide range of benefits –
- Happiness generators – Studies have shown that having greens in one’s space reduces stress (thus lowering blood pressure), increase positivity and the feeling of well-being.
- Fight SBS – the modern day living malady – SBS – Sick Building Syndrome can be eased with plants.
- Breathe-easy – Since plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the day, an opposite gas pattern to us humans, they are natural partners to have in your living space. Plants increase oxygen levels.
- Air-Cleaners – Plants improve air quality by naturally ‘detoxing’ the air by absorbing airborne contaminants (eg VOC, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and more)
- Fight Colds – Research proves that growing plants indoors can reduce illnesses related to colds by more than 30% largely by increasing humidity levels and reducing air pollutants.
- Brain boosters – Plants can actually help you think better, improve productivity and performance, improve mood, idea creation etc
- Noise reducers – Plants help lower background noise by absorption, diffraction or reflection of noise through their leaves.
- First-aid – some plants offer healing properties like Aloe Vera, Holy Basil, Mint etc and are handy to have around
- Food enhancers – Some herbs are great to cook with – Rosemary, Basil, Coriander, Dill etc.
- Humidifiers – Plants are natural humidifiers.
- Allergy preventer – By exposing yourself and your little ones to plants can help build tolerance and immunity to plant allergens.
What are the best rooms to keep these plants in?
Plants can be kept in all rooms of the home.
- Living room – Most living rooms are dry and warmer than the rest of the house. Choose plants that need less water or spray leaves regularly. Another option is also to stand plants together in groups so they can create their own micro-climate. Some ideal plants are Crotons, Dracenea, Mother-in-law’s tongue, Ficus, Spider Plant etc.
- Bathroom – Usually called as the best room for plants by gardeners, this room is ideal for greens to thrive due to its warm humid environment. A well-lit bathroom is even better. Ideal plants are Anthurium, Peace Lilly, African Violet, Baby’s Tears.
- Kitchen – Herbs and healing plants are wonderful for a sunny kitchen – Rosemary, Mint, Basil, Aloe Vera, Holy Basil etc. Avoid hot spots – near oven, kettle etc. Hanging plants or window sill are ideal locations.
- Bedroom – Choose plants that take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night – Orchids, Succulents, Mother-in-law. Another option since bedrooms are usually cooler than the rest of the house you could try winter plants like a Winter Jasmine to add natural aroma.
What plants act as air purifiers?
Research conducted at NASA proves that some plants have a natural ability to remove airborne pollutants and contaminants a process called phytoremediation, making them ideal to have in our homes and workplaces.
- Purple Waffle Plant
- Money Plant – filters out Formaldehyde
- English Ivy – benzene and formaldehyde
- Bamboo Palm– formaldehyde
- Golden Pathos – formaldehyde
- Red-edged Dracaena – formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene
- Spider Plant – formaldehyde
- Gerbera Daisy – formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene
- Peace Lily – formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene
- Rubber Plant – formaldehyde
There are a few important dos and don’ts for plants to flourish indoors –
- Water – Over-watering is the number one killer for indoor plants. Depending on the humidity in your location, size of your plants, type of plants etc you will need to schedule the watering. A good way to check is the dipstick method – use a pencil, push it into the soil about 4 to 6 inches deep. Remove and check the moistness of soil on the pencil stub. If moist, do not water.
- Light – While all plants need light, all don’t need the same amounts to thrive. Find out the ‘footcandle’ requirement of the plants you are choosing. (A footcandle is a measure of light for plants – how many candles it takes to light a plant, in a completely dark space, from one foot away.) For low lit areas choose plants that need 250 or lower footcandles – Pothos, Bamboo Palm, Philodendron)
- Temperature – Plants thrive best when there are no extremes in temperature. A temperature of around 15 degrees C (60degree F) is ideal to grow a wide range of plants.
- Fertilise – Once or twice a year is all that indoor plants usually need, during spring or fall. (Do water before putting fertilizer to avoid fertilizer burn)
- Protect – Watch out for plant pests. Learn from an expert how to identify them and treat your plants.
- Talk – Soothing music (Indian Sitar rates the best) or talking to your plants help them thrive better.
How can plants work as decor pieces for the house?
Use decorative pots that compliment the décor and furnishings. Plants with different foliage grouped together make a beautiful green oasis.
Some dos and don’ts to remember for keeping indoor plants
- Place saucer or tray under plants to contain spills and overwatering.
- Ensure there is space between the pot and tray so the roots don’t stay in the water. This will cause the roots to rot.
- Rotate the plants once in a while so all plants are exposed to light in case of some areas not receiving light.
- Regularly spray water on foliage to compensate for dry indoor weather
- Wipe leaves occasionally with a damp cloth to help them breathe.
- For extra shine, a little skimmed milk on a cloth wiped on the top surface (not bottom) of leaves, helps.