I absolutely love this time of year! There is nothing more relaxing than strolling the neighborhood on a warm summer day. Just seeing and smelling beautiful fragrant blooms on shrubs and trees is an instant mood booster. Not to mention that walking is great exercise! It’s common knowledge that plants help to significantly improve air quality by filtering carbon dioxide and converting it to oxygen. But did you know that the air inside your home can be more polluted that the air outside of it? Well, it’s true! In fact, chemicals such as paint, household cleaners, and insect repellants can combine to create a hazardous environment for humans and animals alike.
One of the best (and most natural) ways to improve indoor air quality is by placing plants around your home. There are many plants that can help with air purification. The plants below are known for being excellent at filtering toxins from the air, in addition to a few other remarkable benefits:
1) Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera grows in long pointed stalks with small spikes resembling that of a cactus. Not only is Aloe Vera great at filtering indoor air, but it is known for being non-toxic to children and animals and is generally easy to maintain. In addition to these benefits, aloe happens to be an excellent treatment for the care of burned or chapped skin. In fact, using aloe is the most well known (and extremely effective) treatment of sunburns. Simply break off or cut a piece of the stalk using pruners or sharp scissors. Once cut, the plant will secrete an oil that is soothing for irritated skin. Smooth the aloe oil over skin and let the area dry completely.
2) Bamboo Palm: While bamboo can be known to be quite invasive when cultivated outside, the bamboo palm can be contained to a pot and does well in naturally lit areas which are common inside kitchens and bedrooms. Bamboo Palms do require frequent watering but should not be over watered or they may not survive. In addition to acting as a natural humidifier, the bamboo palm is also a wonderful decorative plant as it does produce attractive flowers and berries.
3) Peace Lily: The Peace Lily produces emerald green leaves and large concave shaped white blooms. Peace lilies grow well in cooler (but not cold) temperatures. They are also known to remove many of the harsh chemical pollutants from the air that come from paint or household cleaners. They are easy to care for and therefore are a common (and wonderful) gift for housewarmings, bridal showers, and even job promotions/partnerships.
4) Gerber Daisy: Gerber daisies are big beautiful round flowers. Gerber daisies are a decorator’s favorite since, thanks to florist paint, they come in just about every color of the rainbow. They are a great way to add a punch of color to any room. Gerber daisies aren’t thought of as houseplants but they are excellent at cleaning the air and aren’t bad to look at either!
5) Chrysanthemum: Chrysanthemums are vibrant plants that produce large colorful blooms in several earth tone colors such as red, orange, and yellow. Mums, as they are commonly called, are known to efficiently remove the chemical Benzene from the air. Benzene is a chemical common in many tobacco products and so mums may be effective at reducing the effects of secondhand smoke. Mums peak in the Fall each year (Zone 7) and are typically accompanied by pumpkins and scarecrows 🙂
6) Lavender: This sunlight loving plant not only looks phenomenal but smells just as good. Lavender has a tons of modern day uses including acting as a natural insect repellent. Keep a lavender plant in your kitchen to keep away fruit flies and gnats. Oh…and parents!! The aroma of lavender is a widely recommended treatment for infants and children suffering from anxiety or sleep issues. Search for a body wash or lotion infused with lavender or purchase a special stuffed animal which includes an interior pouch to add fresh lavender.
7) Mint: Mint is a favorite for gardeners everywhere and is one of the most widely used herbs in the world. The plant loves both sun and water but is generally easy to grow and in fact may be growing in your garden without you even trying (lucky me 🙂 ). Aside from air purification, mint is commonly used in cooking and for making tea and other beverages (mojitos anyone?!).
8) Rosemary: Rosemary is an herb that is commonly used to add a savory flavor to sauces, soups, and teas. On the other hand, Rosemary is a great air purifier and since its evergreen, it can grow all year long. Rosemary is a relatively small plant that has pointed needle-like leaves and a pungent but pleasant odor.
9) Geranium: Geraniums have a ton of great benefits. First, they are gorgeous when blooming and require very little care. A geranium can live for up to two weeks without water during the colder drier fall and winter months. They do not require a lot of sun but if they are provided with more sun than they will have more blooms. This plant can have a strong aroma but it is also known to be a natural mosquito repellent which is a plus this time of year. This is an excellent houseplant for beginners as it can be easily started by planting a clipping from another plant.
10) Jasmine: This inexpensive plant is probably one of the most beautiful and best smelling herbs that you can grow. Bright green leaves are highlighted by small delicate blooms that open in the evening, when temperatures tend to be lower. In addition to being used for herbal tea it is also a natural air purifier and odor neutralizer. The scent of the jasmine plant is soft and light and is commonly used as a scent in many women’s perfumes and lotions.
So break out your green thumb and add a few of these plants around your home for a colorful and wonderfully scented “walk in the park” – without even leaving your home!
*Many plants can be toxic to children and animals when ingested in high amounts. Use caution when growing plants in your home and always research a plant thoroughly before bringing it into your home.