Clean Air with House Plants
As the seasons change and winter rolls in,
less time is spent outdoors and more time is spent indoors resulting in a likely change of air quality. Unbeknownst to many, as we go about our daily tasks, indoor toxins can have a dramatic and drastic impact on our well being and health, potenially leading to asthma, many allergies, inflamations and even some types of cancer. So what’s the solution? Simple. Use house plants, they are cost effective costing only a few dollars and taking care of them is both educational and relaxing.
Whether it’s old or new, your home could be harboring unhealthy (and invisible) toxins. These chemical compounds are found in emissions from paint, plastics, carpet, cleaning solutions, and numerous building materials.
Lucky for us, nature has a way of keeping itself clean. There are many powerful air-cleaning plants that naturally remove pollutants from the air. We picked six of our favorites and offer tips on how to keep them in top working condition.
Growing Jasmine Indoors:
If you yearn for some sweet winter blossoms and the aroma of a sweet fragrance wafting through the air, then consider the jasmine plant. Not all jasmines are of the fragrant variety but Jasminum polyanthum, the variety commonly used for indoor growing has that sweet smell that is often more fragrant during the night. Indoor jasmine plants actually benefit from spending time outdoors. In summer, locate indoor jasmine plants in a partly sunny spot to encourage robust growth.
Jasmine flowers form during the late cool six-week period of autumn. This provides for buds that will bloom typically during February. If your doesn’t bloom, it probably didn’t get enough exposure to cool temperatures. Jasmine like spots in a southern window. They are vigorous climbers so a support or small trellis is a good idea.
Cooler temperatures and a location in a well lit room or sunny window is important as is allowing for good air circulation, which helps promote showy white, winter blooms of the J. polyanthum when growing jasmine indoors. The plant can tolerate as much as four hours per day of direct sunlight, from late spring through fall. Decrease direct sunlight in winter.
Soil for indoor jasmine plants should be porous and may be modified with bark, coir or other organic materials. The soil mixture should remain moist throughout the year, but not soggy. Less water is needed during the resting period following bloom decline. Care of indoor jasmine includes fertilization with a weakened houseplant food throughout the growing season. High phosphorus fertilizer prolongs the length of bloom time.
White, cottony masses under leaves and on stems may indicate that mealybugs have taken up residence on your plant. Remove as many as possible when pruning. Use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to remove any masses left when pruning is finished. Pruning is necessary when growing jasmine indoors. As you’re learning how to care for a jasmine houseplant, you may find it getting out of hand if you don’t prune regularly to keep it under control. Prune heavily at the beginning of the spring growing season while training the twining vine to a support.
Indoor jasmine plants have a long lifespan when cared for properly. Repot in spring. Prune the roots when moving to fresh soil, as needed. If you have a different type of jasmine and want to try growing it indoors, follow the above guidelines. Other types may not need as much sun, but often grow equally well and bloom when grown as indoor plants.
Reduce anxiety and relieve stress
Lavender is a genus of 39 known species of flowering plants in the mint family and a commonly used essential oil. It not only smells wonderful, but can also reduce anxiety and stress, slow heart rate, improve your sleep, and calm restless babies. French Lavender is the best choice for growing Lavender inside and has lovely serrated leaves. Lavender’s intoxicating fragrance has made this herb a favorite for perfumes and lavender sachets for centuries. Pure lavender oil is used in aromatherapy products such as candles, pot pourri and soaps. Its soothing scent has a relaxing effect. Lavender crafts such as wreaths or other dried flower arrangements are cherished for their aroma as much as their beauty.
Make sure to pot it up using a well drained potting mix and read up on growing Lavender in containers before attempting growing Lavender indoors. Begin by placing your plant in a sunny windowsill and do give it a drink regularly allowing the top inch or so of soil to dry out. Remember to rotate the pot every few days to allow sunlight to reach all of the leaves and to aid in even growth.
If you home is extremely dry you may place your plant on a pebble lined tray filled with water. This will increase the humidity of the air around the plant. The purpose of the pebbles is to keep the pot up and out of the water to prevent soggy soil and root rot. Make sure your plant sits above the water and not in it.
Improves memory retention
Rosemary is a member of the Labiatae or mint family, and it grows as an evergreen perennial shrub in mild-wintered regions of the world. Its Latin name, Rosmarinus officinalis, means “dew of the sea,” a reference to its Mediterranean roots. It has been proven to be effective at increasing your memory as well as the overall air quality in the room.
In 2000, rosemary was selected as Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association, and it’s easy to see why. This aromatic evergreen is an indispensable kitchen herb, it’s used as an ornamental element in the garden, and it is used in aromatherapy.
Growing rosemary indoors is sometimes a tricky thing to do. Many good gardeners have tried, and despite their best efforts, end up with a dry, brown, dead rosemary plant. If you know the secrets to proper care of rosemary plants growing inside, you can keep your rosemary plants growing happily indoors all winter long.
Most often, there are four things on the list of what kills rosemary plants indoors. These are:
• lack of sunlight – make sure that you place it in the brightest window in your house, which is normally a south facing window
• poor watering practices – In the winter, rosemary plants grow much more slowly and need much less water than they do in the summer. Watering too often will cause root rot, which will kill the plan
• powdery mildew – The best way to drive away powdery mildew on rosemary plants is to increase the air circulation around it
• pests – if your rosemary is infected with pests, use a houseplant pesticide to remove them. Since rosemary is an herb and it is mainly grown to be eaten, look for organic pesticides.
Improves air quality
Aloe Vera is a succulent plant species that has been commonly used in herbal medicine since the beginning of the first century AD. NASA utilizes these plants for their superior ability to increase the overall quality of air with fresh oxygen. Aloe Vera has variegated leaves that flow out from its center base. Aloe can be kept in a pot in the kitchen near a window for everyday use. The juice from its leaves will relieve pain from scrapes and burns.
It is often reported that burns can be healed remarkably quickly and the pain reduced very quickly with topical application of Aloe Vera to the burn area. Numerous studies worldwide indicate that it is a general tonic for the immune system, helping it to fight illness of all kinds. Various research studies are underway to explore the potential of the components to boost immunity and combat the HIV virus, and to treat certain types of cancer (particularly leukemia). It may even have a role to play in managing diabetes.
Aloes like a soil that drains well. A cactus mix or a sandy soil is good for larger pots. Smaller pots drain quickly, and any good potting soil will do the trick. Water your Aloe sparingly in the winter since it won’t be drying up very fast. It won’t need to be watered very often, maybe once a ever week or two. In the summertime you can really soak the soil, but let the soil dry out between waterings. Make sure there is a drainage hole in the pot since the roots are prone to rot when exposed to long periods of wet soil.
Aloe leaves should grow upward, away from the base of the plant. If the leaves are lying flat, your Aloe probably has insufficient light. Although it will turn brown with too much light, it still needs a good amount of sunshine. If the leaves are thin and curled, you probably are not watering your Aloe enough. The plant is using up its own liquid to keep itself nourished. Give it some water!
Aloe plants produce offsets or plantlets or “babies” that can be removed to produce an entirely new plant. Knock your Aloe out of its pot and find where the offsets are attached. Sever them from the mother plant with a knife. Allow the cuts on the offsets and the mother plant to callus over for a day or two. Pot them in a standard potting mix. Put in a sunny location. Wait a week to water and keep the soil on the dry side.
Aloes are prone to mealybugs and scale. Some common diseases are root rot, soft rot, fungal stem, and leaf rot.
English Ivy Plant
Reduce and Prevent MOLD
English Ivy is a species of flowering plant native to Europe and Western Asia. This plant has been proven to reduce airborne mold by 94%, which can have a significant benefit for those who suffer from allergies or lung irritation.
Ivy is a vigorous grower with strong, wiry stems densely covered with distinctive foliage. Although commonly grown as a hanging plant indoors, its aerial roots can easily be trained to climb a moss stick or trellis. There are hundreds of types of ivy varieties — some with plain green leaves, others are variegated with yellow, gold or creamy white.
Dry leaves? Cool, moist air and evenly moist soil will help your English Ivy thrive indoors. Protect it from drafts. Mist the plant often to keep its leaves from drying out. Misting also helps to keep away spider mites that love to attack this plant.
Prune it back, if you want to keep your ivy plant to a desired length. Light pruning can be done any time of year.
Shed some light. Growing ivy with plenty of bright light will help variegated ivies to keep their color. Prune off any stems of variegated ivy that reverts to all green.
Snake plant – Sansevieria
Reduce and Prevent headaches
Snake Plant is a species of flowering plant in the family Asparagaceae native to West Africa. It’s been proven to be extremely effective with treating headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory problems. It can also help to increase your overall energy levels.
Snake plant (Sansevieria), A.K.A Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, is a succulent plant, which means the leaves retain lots of water, similar to a cactus. You can recognize snake plants by their long, pointed, upright leaves which look very much like snakes, giving the plant its name. It is green in color, but sometimes has yellow edges.
Give snake plant sufficient light. The plant will thrive in a sunny window facing east, west or south. If you have only a north facing window, don’t despair! Snake plant handles a variety of light situations very well. If you can only provide minimal light, the plant will be fine. Later, when the opportunity presents itself, move snake plant to a sunnier window. The more sun it gets, the faster it will grow!
Water sparingly. A succulent holds lots of water inside its leaves, and if you give it too much water, the plant will rot. By sparingly, I mean water every two to three weeks (In the summer time, the plant will use more water, especially if it’s in a very sunny location. In winter, the plant uses less water, so be sure to adjust accordingly). Use room temperature water so the roots don’t get shocked. Wet the top of the soil thoroughly, but be sure not to drown the plant! You are better off watering the plant too little than too much!
Feed the plant with a tiny amount of general all-purpose plant food (the kind you dissolve in water) in the spring and summer. Because this is the primary growing time for snake plant, it will thank you for the extra growth boost the fertilizer provides. Put the fertilizer in your favorite watering jug, and just fertilize every time you water. In fall and winter, stop fertilizing – snake plant doesn’t need to be fed at this time of year.
Hope you find these suggestions to your liking. Over the slow winter months I immensely enjoy my indoor gardening and find it most relaxing. Besides, what else is there? We have 94 daze, 12 hours and 14 minutes until Spring.