Brown Thumbs Rejoice Highlands NC

Ahhh, winter. Days are short, nights are long, and we’re spending more time inside our winter cocoon. We’ve battened down the hatches, created warm and cozy spaces keeping our own confines, well…confined. 

   The air we breathe is filled with less oxygen and more carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and other toxic chemicals. In 1989, NASA and the ALCA (Association of Landscape Contractors of America) researched ways to help space stations have cleaner air. Enter the lowly little houseplant. Here are the top ten house plants you should consider to enrich the air quality in your home:

1) Bamboo Palm is touted as being one of the best for filtering formaldehyde, maybe that’s why they call it the ‘good luck’ plant. Keep it contained, and do not discard it outside unless you want to start a fishing pole industry.

2) Peace Lily − All we are saying, is give Peace a chance (you were singing, weren’t you?). This toxin-eating plant is often sold by florists and is fairly easy to maintain because it doesn’t need bright sun or a lot of water.

3) Dracaena – One of my favorites. Tall spiky, very thin leaves, sometimes edged in red or a creamy white add an exotic contrast to any dish garden or corner in your home. 

4) Aloe Vera − Here’s another spiky plant, but these succulent beauties turn out to be much more than a pretty face. The “gel” inside each saw-toothed spike is a natural aid for burns.

5) Garden Mum − Yes, these are the same chrysanthemums you see outside. They’re also sold by florists, and come in a wide range of colors. These help get rid of xylene, commonly found in carpeting and upholstered furniture.

6) Weeping Fig ( also known as the Ficus Tree) − You can take this tree outdoors on a sheltered porch in good weather. But take note of its name − this plant can be quite the Drama Queen, any change that’s too dramatic will cause it to shed its leaves. 

7) Snake plant (also called Mother in Law Tongue) − This one is great for a black thumb and takes very little care. The leaves are tall and stiff, making it a good backdrop for a dish garden.

8) Spider plants – This is beautiful in a hanging basket, and easy to care for and share. Just remove a “spider” and put it in moist soil. It needs bright indirect light, and not much water.

9) Dieffenbachia − Also called “Dumb Cane” because if ingested, it can cause vocal chord paralysis. It’s also known as Mother-in-Law Plant (not Tongue)

10) Heart Leaf Philodendron − Another favorite because it’s very low maintenance. It’s a trailing plant, great for hanging baskets, or it can be trained to climb upwards as well.

Why not choose one of these to start cleaning the air you breathe? If you have animals that chew on plants, read up on your choice before placing in your home as some can be toxic. Even in a cold dark winter, playing in the dirt can be fun − enjoy!