Take a Deep Breath

Have you ever stopped to think of the quality of air in your home or workspace? In the last few years, more and more people have been turning away from many products – including candles, air fresheners, soaps and hair products, detergents and cleaning products – in order to avoid bringing toxins into their homes.

However, how often do you stop and think about the quality of air around you – especially indoors? Did you know that you can actually improve the quality of air just by adding houseplants into your space?

In the 1980’s, NASA began researching how houseplants could be used to improve the air quality in space stations. Their research uncovered that plants are helpful in many ways; specifically, they filter out certain harmful compounds from the air and make it healthier to breathe – which means a healthier space overall.

The good news is that many of the houseplants that made NASA’s list are easy to grow – and beautiful, to boot!  Below you will find a list of plants that ranked high on NASA’s list, as well as some information to help you get started growing them in your own home.

Bamboo Palm-2.png

Bamboo palms are different from many palms in that they can grow in indirect light. When purchasing a bamboo palm, look for a plant with bright green leaves and one that stands tall. (Unless you’re on a rescue mission, don’t bother with one that is leaning too much or has browning foliage.)

Water the plant when the soil feels dry to the touch, but beware of over- or under-watering.

Caring for a bamboo palm also includes using a time-released fertilizer during the growing season. Granular fertilizers tend to work best. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when feeding your palm plant and always water the fertilizer in.

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Pothos are one of my favorite houseplants! I have at least four varieties in my house currently, and I absolutely love propagating them because they root very quickly. They do well in bright indirect light to low light (hence the reason they do well in my house – lots of low-light areas).

When it comes to watering, drench your plant well each time you water and let dry in between waterings. Beware of over- and under-watering. When I first got started with pothos, I frequently over-watered and couldn’t figure out why all of the leaves were turning yellow and the roots were rotting out.

Pothos do not require fertilization, but are a little happier if they are fed periodically. Fertilize them three or four times during the spring and summer.

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Dracaena are a beautiful addition to any home, and are quite easy to care for. They do well in bright, indirect light. Once again, beware of over- and under-watering; if you do over-water, look out for drooping or yellowing leaves.  Soil should be thoroughly drenched when watered, allowing it to dry out between waterings.

Dracaena do well when fertilized every two weeks in the spring and summer. In the fall, fertilization can be reduced to once a month. Because the plant benefits from periods of being dormant, it is not necessary to fertilize in the fall.

I went on a little plant shopping spree a few weeks ago for my birthday, and actually bought a little dracaena plant. My variety is dark-green-and-white variegated. I can’t wait to see how large I can get him to grow!

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In spite of its name, peace lilies are not true lilies.  As such, it requires different care than a lily would. Peace lilies are hardy and easy to grow; they’ll even let you know when they are thirsty as they begin to droop when they need watered. Keep their soil fairly moist, but let dry out a bit between waterings. Another part of peace lily care is keeping their leaves clean of dust, allowing them to process sunlight as efficiently as possible.  Wiping down their leaves with a wet cloth once or twice a year is a great way to help clear off the dust.

When it comes to fertilization, peace lilies benefit from being fertilized once or twice during the spring and summer. They do not require more fertilization than that.

Peace lilies also benefit from being repotted or divided when they become too big for their current container. You will be able to tell if you peace lily needs repotted if it droops within a week of being watered or new leaves emerge deformed.

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Weeping fig trees are a type of ficus tree. They are sought after because they add a bright statement to any room and can grow to be fairly large. Weeping fig trees do well in bright, indirect sun.  In warm weather, their soil should be kept moist. However, when the weather cools, let the soil dry out between waterings.

Weeping fig trees need to be fertilized once a month from the spring to the fall with a liquid fertilizer, diluted to half-potency.

It should be noted that, as with many ficus trees, weeping fig trees do not do well with change. Moving it to a new location, changes in air temperature or air humidity, or over-/under-watering can all cause leaves to drop. If this happens, do not worry. Once the tree gets settled and care is stabilized, the tree should continue to grow.

Spider Plant.png

Spider plants are easy to grow and very easy to propagate. I have several in my home – all from the same “momma” plant! Because of their resiliency, they are a fantastic starter plant for many aspiring {house}plant mommas.

Spider plants like to be watered thoroughly and then allowed to dry out between waterings. They also enjoy a cooler temperature than do most other houseplants.

In regards to fertilization, feed your spider plant once a week during the summer with a liquid fertilizer. Or, if you prefer, use pellets on your soil at the beginning of the growing season.

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Philodendron is another plant that is great for beginners, as it is very forgiving. Philodendron like to be in bright, indirect light, but also can survive in low light. This means that it will do well in a variety of environments.

Philodendron should be watered regularly in order to keep the soil moist, and benefit from an occasional misting.  The leaves will begin to droop if it is over- or under-watered, but they will typically bounce back once the watering schedule is corrected.

When it comes to fertilization, philodendron are fairly low-maintenance there, as well.  Plants should be watered monthly with a liquid fertilizer during the spring and summer. During the fall and winter, fertilization should be spaced out to every six to eight weeks.

Snake Plant.png

Snake plants happen to be another of my favorites. Not only do they look great, but they are very resilient. They do well in a variety of lighting situations – from bright, indirect light to low light.

Snake plants ought to be watered less frequently than many other houseplants, and need to dry out between waterings.  This may mean that you water less than once a week, depending partially on the size of your plant and pot. Root rot is an issue for snake plants, so beware of over-watering.

These plants can be fertilized a couple of times during the spring and summer, but this isn’t required.

When I bought my first snake plant, the girl working at the shop told me that it is also know as “mother-in-law tongue” because it’s impossible to kill. I don’t have a bad mother-in-law by any means, but the nickname sure does make me smile every time I think of it!

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Now…take a deep breath.  Is your air as clean as it could be?  Maybe it’s time for you add a little green into your life!

– the {house}plant momma

2 Replies to “Take a Deep Breath”

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