Thursday, July 1, 2010

Indoor Houseplants

I love African daisies, cut a fresh bunch for your home to place in any room for that sweet feeling of summer or spring time. There are other advantages to using a variety of indoor houseplants. In the average home, common household substances, such as carpet, smoke, cleaning supplies and building supplies, could be adding pollutants to the indoor air. However, there's a natural way to rid your home of these pollutants: plants.

According to a study conducted by NASA, houseplants can act as indoor air purifiers that filter out toxins like benzene and formaldehyde from the air. Think about it: Houseplants are often native to tropical regions of the world. In their native habitats, they live in light filtered from taller trees, just like the light streaming in through your windows. That’s why even in low light, a plant can photosynthesize, absorbing most indoor pollutants which renders them harmless.

Houseplants don't just improve air quality inside your home. They also boost your mood and enhance the look of your interior space. Here are 10 air-cleaning machines that you can grow in your house.

Tillandsia. Are you someone who kills every plant that comes into the house? Consider growing a tillandsia. It's an air plant, or an epiphyte, meaning that it doesn't grow in any soil. How much care is required to maintain this plant? Dunk it in water every once in a while or mist it. Ideally you want to do this about once a week.

Ivy. This vining treasure is low maintenance and can be trained to achieve a number of looks. Use ivy as a trailing plant to soften the edge of a table, or add structure to any room with an ivy topiary. To make your own topiary, all you need is a piece of heavy duty gauge wire or a wire hanger. Shape the wire into any form you desire, leaving a piece that can be pushed into the soil to hold the frame in place. Or, if you are using a hanger, mold the hanger into a circle or other shape, straighten the hook, push it into the soil and wind several vines around the wire. When you water the plant, keep winding the vines around the wire frame or give it a haircut so that it grows into the shape you desire. If you're having trouble growing ivy, move it outdoors during warm temperatures to allow it to dust itself off and enjoy the "fresh" air.

Kentia palm. These statuesque beauties grow upwards of 12 feet indoors. The more indirect light you give them, the more fronds they'll grow. Because they can stay in their containers for a long time, add a mulch of decorative rock or glass to the soil surface to create added interest.

Dracaena. Traditionally houseplants meant green plants. Yet there are other indoor air cleaners that offer a bit more drama. Beyond plain green, dracaena cultivars offer a range of hues and colors, ranging from lime green or dark jade green to green with white variegation.

Rubber plant. This attractive architectural tropical offers thick, dark green leaves. Use it add some height to the corner of a room.

Lucky bamboo. No soil necessary to grow this plant, just a big vase of water. Place it on a tabletop and watch it grow.

African violet. Looking for some flowers to go with all that foliage? African violets produce clusters of flowers that come in a variety of vivid colors, including pink, white, purple and bicolor. They also have soft, fuzzy leaves that are interesting even when they're not blooming.

Cactus. If you have a window with bright light, take a stab at growing cactus. Although it does best outdoors in the heat and sun, you can grow cactus indoors with bright light and then give it a breather outside during the summer. Water your cactus about once a week, or as needed, and in the winter water it about once a month, if at all.

Orchid. If African violets aren't enough flower power for your living room, orchids are another excellent option. Provide them with bright indirect light and mist them at least once a week.

Bromeliad. Add a splash of color with bromeliads. These unique architectural plants come in a variety of foliage and flower colors, with hints of hot pink and red to variegated forms. Keep bromeliads well watered, allowing them to dry out between watering. However, do not allow to dry out completely. It may be necessary to mist them if humidity is low.

A good piece of advice: when you buy a plant, it typically comes with a plant tag that describes its required care. It should also tell you the plant's preferred temperature. If you can follow those rules, you can do well with houseplants.via HG

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