Using Houseplants and GreenGuard Certified Shades for Clean Indoor Air
The glory of indoor plants is boundless – spirits are instantly uplifted when one walks into a home with artfully placed plants! It’s almost as if they’re smiling at you and saying, “nice to have you back!” A home without indoor plants looks dour and uninteresting in comparison. An English Ivy peeking out from amongst a clutter of books in a shelf, a large terracotta basin filled with plants with varied foliage and colors in the foyer, or a large potted palm next to a window seat, or an arrangement of eclectic plants at the corner of a living room suite, a potted Schefflera on a pedestal stool, waving in the gentle breeze from a bedroom window – this is one of life’s pleasures I couldn’t possibly do without!
Apart from the feel-good factor and aesthetic benefits plants provide, they provide health benefits that are beyond compare. Well-tended plants improve the indoor air quality to a very large extent, absorbing toxins off-gassed by furniture and paint work, and practically all products inside a home, purifying the air by up to 90% and ridding allergens for comfort from skin irritants and respiratory ailments. Indoor air is known to be more polluted than outdoor air, and more so in homes where inhabitants indulge I smoking cigarettes inside the house.
In our house, smoking is strictly prohibited, and even in the days when Daniel smoked, he would go the yard to do so. There are certain plants that are known for their purification properties.
In the late ’80s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied houseplants as a way to purify the air in space facilities. They found several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) –
Aloe Vera – are succulents that love the sun, and cleanse the air of formaldehyde and benzene that are by-products of chemical cleaners and paint. Ideal for sunny window ledges. The gel that oozes when its leaf is cut can be used as a healing balm for wounds and burns.
Golden Pothos – cleanses the air of formaldehyde that is a by-product of burning fuels that may blow or leak into homes. They’re great hanging or trailing plants, and present in variegated varieties, too.
Ficus – is a beautiful plant that clears the air of trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde that filter out of carpeting and furniture. They paint the air with somnolent ease.
Hedera or English ivy – are creepers or trailers that have beautiful star-shaped leaves that are known to absorb airborne fecal-matter particles and formaldehyde that is given out of household cleaning products.
Palms – like lady and bamboo palms lend grace and elegance with their sweeping foliage. They are great to scatter around a room with lots of furniture, as they off gas trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
Sword and maidenhair ferns – are great humidifiers and rid the air of formaldehyde.
Plants and Window Shades
Now, growing up, we always had plants gracing the interiors of our home – I should’ve realized that that natural qualities of plants would have been thoroughly understood before they were placed in different rooms. We had aloe and other varieties of cacti on our kitchen window sill – exotic flowering varieties that mom took pains over, even using artificial lighting over them on those frigid, snowy days when the sun never made an appearance. One thing was sure – if you’re the type of person who likes to have indoor plants but the kind who doesn’t like to take the trouble to maintain them, you’re facing an uphill battle. Some tips for house plant cultivation –
Light and temperature – plants like cacti, ferns, and orchids like slightly warmer temperatures and are ideally placed where there is a lot of light coming in, like west and south-oriented windows and doors. Humidity levels of 40 to 60% are ideal for the optimal growth of indoor plants, with 4 – 5 hours of consistent light to keep them thriving. Window shading like light filtering Top-Down-Bottom-Up Natural Shades, Roman shades and cellular shades with Top-Down-Bottom-Up operations, or horizontal blinds blinds or high performance solar shades are options that need to be considered in controlling the amount of light and heat coming in through a window. Horizontal blinds are actually ideal in directing sunlight towards plants that aren’t placed near windows, and if the sun is too harsh, the blind vanes can be turned upwards to diffuse its harmful intensity towards the ceiling, from where it’s dispersed to brighten a room. Natural shades of bamboo, grass and wicker and wood blinds beautifully complement and highlight indoor plants. My all-time personal favorites are the exotic looking light filtering Tradewinds Bamboo shades that picks out wooden elements in a room while lending grace and cover to windows. In winter, backing can be attached to the shades for insulation to keep the room warm. Recently, I heard a friend complain that the cigarette smoke wafts upwards in her living room and other areas through the ducting. I suggested that she use a combination of natural shades and palms or philodendrons in her apartment, and though she doesn’t get a lot of light in a few of her rooms, she has a balcony she can use to sun them every few days or so. And guess what, she says it’s actually improved her indoor air quality tremendously, especially as she got GreenGuard certified natural shades, apart from which natural shades have the property of continuing to absorb and harmlessly dissipate indoor air toxins – practically living shades!
Air and water – indoor plants need a combination of fresh air and optimal watering to keep them thriving. Stick a finger in the potting mix to figure out if plants need to be watered – if the top layer is dry, they’re ready to be watered again. Use pots with trays at the bottom to catch the drip. Operable windows are equally important to maintain the health of your plants, the same as it is for humans! Remember, plants rid the air of carbon dioxide while it manufactures food for itself – this means that plants require plenty of oxygen along with sunlight and water.
Nutrients and room for growth – fertilize indoor plants once a month, as unlike plants growing in the ground, potting gets depleted of its nutrients. Nitrogen, Potassium, and Phosphorus are essential nutrients for effective plant growth. As plants grow, so too does their requirement for pace – repot every six months to the next pot size, or grow others so the existing ones can be recycled.
House plants and natural shades are fantastic options to use to keep your indoor air pure, especially so for those who suffer respiratory ailments and allergies. Take the trouble and grow a few plants in your homes!