Detox your home or business with Plants

Plants make us happy and make our environments indoor and outdoor healthier and less toxic.

Landscaping and use of plants, including indoors in homes, in bistro settings, courtyards, foyers, restaurants and entrances has become very in-trend and for good reason. Not only does it add to the ambiance, create freshness and give a sense of style and is actually proven to improve air quality too.

The research by NASA dating back from the 1970's shows that in as little as 24 hours as much as 87% of indoor pollutants are removed. Air pollutants that can come off paint, furniture, upholstery, carpet, building materials, air conditioning, paper and cardboard products, packaging, plastics even electronics.
The recommended ratio by NASA is 15 good sized specimen in around a 6 inch pot per 170 Sq m.
It is a combination of the plant leaves, roots and also soil bacteria that play a crucial role in removing toxins.
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Research by the US EPA and its Science Advisory Board have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health.

What air is effected ?
Quoted definition from the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.

“The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) defines indoor air as air within a building occupied for at least one hour by people of varying states of health. This can include the office, classroom, transport facility, shopping centre, hospital and home. Indoor air quality can be defined as the totality of attributes of indoor air that affect a person's health and well being.”

The air inside our homes and office’s can contain a cocktail of toxins, many we wouldn’t be aware of and can come from commonly found sources in our homes, work places even in our children’s classrooms and bedrooms.
With recent figures estimating average Australians spending as much as 90% of their time indoors the quality of the air in our indoor spaces because something we need to look at carefully.

While good ventilation plays a big part in reducing effects studies show that certain indoor plants are extremely effective at removing indoor air pollution.

Research first done by NASA and in particular Dr Bill Wolverton, Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s John C Stennis space station proved that certain indoor plants are extremely effective at reducing and even completely removing certain very harmful toxins from air in confined spaces. While this research was originally intended for space it became apparent that it was applicable to our homes and office building 
environments. 
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5 dangerous toxins commonly found that are able to be treated by indoor plants
Formaldehyde
Carpet, cleaning products, fire retardants, furniture, paper products, ply wood, particle board, pressed wood, some grocery shopping bags, waxed paper, foam insulation and natural gas.
Benzene
Detergents, inks and dyes, plastics, Petroleum products, rubber,  synthetic fibres, pharmaceuticals, paints, oils and  tobacco smoke.
Trichloroethylene
Adhesives, dry cleaning, inks, dyes, lacquers, paints, varnishes and metal degreasing
Xylene
Rubber, printing, leather, paints and varnishes
Tolyene
Silicone sealants, leather, paint thinners, disinfectants, adhesives, printing, lacquers and disinfectants.

Pollutants also dealt with by plants either by degradation or elimination include metals, pesticides, explosives and even crude oil


There are so many different ways to add some plant design features to a business and a lot will depend on how much light the area has, what look you are interested in, whether plants can be rotated and how much maintenance you are willing to take on.
Structurally, architectural looking plants can make dramatic entrances and features.
Things like large matching pots with plants that make a bold colour statement at an entrance or in a row, massed plantings of different grasses and foliage contrast plants in an area and the use of large visually beautiful pots planted with dramatic plants as features.
Think plants with lines like dracenas, grasses, grass trees, pineapples, aloe’s, grasses, yukka’s, succulents.

A very stylish feature is currently the vertical gardens, a wall of succulents, herbs or flowering plants. Very space effective and gives an absolute wow factor. There are many designs available for this kind of garden including pallet gardens.
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The use of water holding planting devices like the EzyGrow which not only holds its water but reuses and makes it available to the plants are perfect for small courtyards, units, outdoor eating settings.

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A tropical themed dense planting around entrances, stairways always looks fantastic and tropical looking plantings with a water feature can completely transform an area and invite people to feel relaxed.
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Topiaries of suitable citrus trees are always a classic, though they must have full sun, perfect if you have an open courtyard, outdoor eating area or for an entranceway. Pots and planters of herbs and annual flowers make a beautiful addition to outdoor eating areas if it is exposed to sunlight. As do the fantastic colour flare of bougainvilleas, that can also be shaped. 

Use plants to add colour.

So many plants have fantastic colour, in their flowers and foliage.
Combine with coloured pots and use matching coloured or contrasting coloured plants, even follow a colour theme you already have in your business or home to give a stylish look.
Mass planting of the same or similar plants always gives a great effect; consider a row or a grouping.

Indoors dark green, leafy plants make their dazzling appearance and give a lush feel.
Large indoor plants can also be used to subtlety divide areas and provide screening and private alcoves or to disguise less attractive areas.

And to create a hidden oasis feel, adding huge impact to atmosphere.
Peace Lily Image Credit

A touch of lush green has been said to have soothing, calming effects on an atmosphere making indoor plants a great investment for businesses, waiting rooms, homes and working environments. Including office areas.
Ficus Image Source
Some great indoor choices would be: Peace Lily - Spathiphyllum ( hardy and very beautiful)
Bamboo Palm - Chamaedorea Seifrizii, Golden Pothos - Epipremnum Auereum (poisonous if eaten, but fantastic for trailing and in hanging baskets, very beautiful). Elephants Ear-Philodendron Domesiticum. English Ivy - Hedera Helix (Trailing and good for hanging baskets).
Spider Plant - Cholorphytum Comosum (Hardy can also be grown in hanging baskets). Aglaonema
Dracena Marginata (can be toxic to dogs and cats – very striking looking)
Boston Fern - Nephrolepsis Exaltata ( Great for a hanging baskets if limited in space-hardier than they look!)
Ficus Benjamina ( Very hardy and an attractive tree like plant)
Mother in Laws Tongue Plant - Sansevieria Trifasciata and popular cultivar Sansevieria Laurentii (Very hardy and architectural looking but can be toxic to dogs and cats)
Areca Palm-  Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens, Dwarf Date Palm - Phoenix Roebelenii, Phalenopsis Orchid Sp. Anthiriums.

Depending on the situation and light levels, it is a great idea to have indoor plants that can be rotated with others that are in a better lit position to keep healthy plants on display, as even indoor plants do need some light. This will also ensure that your plants are always fresh looking and healthy.

For the non green thumbs who want plants with minimum of care, cast iron plant, mother in laws tongue, Spider plants, Peace Lily’s, English Ivy, Ficus and certain Palm’s are beautiful and very hardy.

General growing tips and notes for plants in houses and business situations

  • Ensure plenty of light wherever possible, keep near windows, under skylights, outdoors but also watch that they don’t burn too, keep adjusting is possible until you find great positioning for your plants or rotate.
  •  Use good quality potting mix, always. This is one thing you should never scrimp on with plants in pots.
  • Water regularly, don’t forget to water them but don’t drown them either. You can always feel the soil, a few cm down to see how dry or wet it is and a lot of plants will visually wilt when thirsty.
  • Put them out in the rain if possible every so often, they will love it, (just don’t leave them out there when the sun comes out if they are indoor varieties.)
  • Use pots with good drainage and saucers or pot feet. It is important for plant health to have good air circulation around their roots. There are planter systems available like EZY Grow that actually store the water in them as well so there is no mess on the ground, a great feature for eateries.
  • Along with a slow release, fertilise with Seasol or similar on a regular basis to ensure they are healthy and happy. Just check the proximity to people eating and try and fertilise on a day when no-one will be there or ask your local nursery for plant feeding options that would suit your situation.
  • Where you are very limited with natural light try having a couple of plants and rotate outside ones with the inside ones regularly so you are always putting a fresh plant in the spot, most plants will take 2-3 days indoors without light.
  • When buying plants look for a nice healthy looking specimen that is pretty stable in its pot. Check it over for pests and diseases, a quick look should reveal any bugs, slugs, badly eaten leaves or fluffy white mealy bugs around the stem and under leaves.
  • Ask the nursery person if it needs re-potting any time soon when you buy it, a pot bound plant will not be happy for long.
  • Consider multi plantings. Plants do better when grouped together and it looks aesthetically beautiful too so even if you have limited space, try putting a few together.
Copyright RebeccaMugridge2013
Rebecca is a qualified Horticulturalist with over 15 years experience and a love affair with plants, gardening, nature and cooking.
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9 comments:

  1. WOW. I knew about the carbon dioxide/ oxygen thing but had no idea about toxins!! This is absolutely amazing and is bookmarked. About to move house and I really want to do more of this in that bigger space and now that kids are older. That succulents display is absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing, I do love some anti-doomsday news! #teamIBOT

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  2. Thanks Twitchy! Plants are amazing!! xx

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  3. Umm, I love plants in the house but I never knew all those benefits.
    Sadly I'm not very good at looking after them. They have to be replaced frequently :-(

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  4. I can almost smell the fresh air around the indoor plants you pictured. Your article makes me want more plants in my home.

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  5. I didn't realise that they eliminated toxins! I have to admit that I love indoor plants! They make the house look so pretty! :)

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