In this edition of Feng Shui Tips I’m sharing some useful advice for purifying the air in your home or office via the use of plants. Not only can plants bring a wonderful aesthetic quality to a room, but they can also act as a natural humidifier and help to remove all manner of toxins.
On a recent trip to Singapore in June, I was alarmed and dismayed to discover that this lovely city was covered in a thick haze of smoke. In fact at one point during my stay the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) soared to a record high of 371 as a result of illegal forest fires in nearby Sumatra.
It seems that during the annual dry season from June to September the farmers clear their land for palm oil cultivation by setting fire to the existing rainforest. Not only does this illegal activity result in air quality reaching hazardous levels in nearby countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, but it also wreaks terrible damage to the rainforests and their precious plants and wildlife and undeniably impacts on the overall health and well-being of our planet!
Whilst the Singapore and Indonesian governments continue to work together to solve this problem by promoting alternative and sustainable agricultural practices to farmers, we should also play a practical role in saving our planet and protecting ourselves by incorporating plants into both our living and working spaces.
In the late 1980’s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied houseplants as a way to purify the air in space facilities. As a result of this research they discovered various plants which filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and help to clean our indoor air, which shockingly is often more polluted than the outdoor air.
So why not pay a visit to your local nursery and do your bit to improve the air quality of your home and our planet by picking up a few of the following plants. I’m sure you will agree that it’s for a worthy cause.
Bamboo Palm: Also known as the Reed Palm, this plant thrives in shady indoor spaces and often produces flowers and small berries. It tops the list of plants which are best for filtering out trichloroethylene and benzene, which is commonly found in inks, glue, paint, plastics and detergent. They’re also great for placing near furniture which may be off-gassing formaldehyde and are said to act as a natural humidifier.
Snake Plant: Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, this plant is one of the best for filtering out nitrogen oxide and formaldehyde, which are common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. Put one in your bathroom as it will thrive in the steamy, humid conditions while helping to filter out air pollutants.3. Areca Palm: One of the best air purifying plants for general air cleanliness.
Spider Plant: A great indoor plant for removing carbon monoxide and other toxins or impurities and are in fact one of the plants which NASA found best at removing formaldehyde from the air. Even if you tend to neglect houseplants you’ll have a hard time killing this resilient little plant. With lots of striped foliage and tiny white flowers, the spider plant also battles benzene, carbon monoxide and xylene.
Peace Lily: Peace lilies are often referred to as the ‘clean-all’ of plants and are great in bathrooms or laundries as they remove any mould spores. In addition they are also known to remove formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
Gerbera Daisy: This bright flowering plant is known to improve sleep by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen throughout the night. It is also effective at removing trichloroethylene, which you may bring home with your dry cleaning and for filtering out benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more. So add one to your bedroom or laundry.
Aloe Vera: This easy-to-grow, sun-loving succulent helps clear formaldehyde and benzene. An Aloe Vera plant is a smart choice for a sunny kitchen window and in addition to its air-clearing qualities, the gel inside an aloe plant can help to heal cuts and burns.
Devils Ivy: Yet another powerful plant for tackling formaldehyde, this fast-growing vine will cascade beautifully from a hanging basket and stays green even when kept in the dark for long periods of time. Consider it for your garage or balcony as car exhaust fumes are laced with formaldehyde.
Chrysanthemum: These colorful flowers are often given to mums on Mother’s Day and in addition to brightening a home or office, they also help to filter out benzene. Do remember however that this plant loves bright light and to encourage buds to open it’s best to place them near an open window with direct sunlight.
Azalea: This beautiful flowering shrub will help to combat formaldehyde from sources such as plywood or foam insulation. Because azaleas do best in cool areas around 60 to 65 degrees, they’re a good option for improving indoor air in your basement if you can find a bright spot.
Warneck Dracaena: This Dracaena helps to combat pollutants associated with varnishes and oils and usually thrives inside, even without direct sunlight. With its striped leaves forming clusters atop a thin stem, it can reach up to 12 feet in height and makes a striking feature.
Heart Leaf Philodendron: This climbing vine is not recommended if you have children or pets as it’s actually toxic when eaten. However it’s still brilliant for removing all kinds of Volatile Organic Compounds and philodendrons in general are particularly good at filtering formaldehyde from materials such as particleboard.
References – Mother Nature Network & Wikipedia