Indoor Plants

Oh, there can be nothing better on a cool, clear day than to open the windows of your house and let the fresh air waft through.

My childhood memories include sleeping by the open window with a soft, and sometimes great, breeze floating past me. After a summer rain, we’d open the windows and let the smell of freshness reach to all the corners of the house. We kept all the windows open and let the air flow through.

Not everyone can do that these days. Dual income households keep the house closed up while everyone is at work, school and afternoon programs. Weekends usually mean running errands, attending little league games or family time out of the house. Architecture, these days (I’ve noticed) isn’t window-open friendly in design, either. While I’ve owned my share of houses with screens in the windows, I’ve also rented my share, too, and these generally don’t come with the standard builder window screens. Sure you can purchase the little expandable screens at the big-box stores but you can only open the window so wide.  And without the screen you’ll get wasps, stink bugs and mosquitos flying through your home.

There’s also a security issue involved with open windows.  People want to feel safe in their homes, so they stay locked.  True but unfortunate.

I’ve noticed in many houses that I’ve occupied, that the architects just missed out on a great opportunity to allow a breeze in the house.  They are putting small windows above the usual window. Why not make that small window one that can open, with a screen.  And since cold air falls and heat rises, it would help to balance the temperature.  How I wish I could sleep with my windows open; that would be one way to do it.

Another reason windows stay closed more than open is the humidity.  We, our furniture and other stuff, are so accustomed to the conditioned air in our homes, that any bit of humidity is evil and the windows get shut.

So, with closed up homes, we need to make them healthy.  Our homes need to be fresh as a summer breeze and non-toxic; no indoor air pollution.  We may be able to find a day or two between the seasons to air out the house but lets talk about the rest of the year.

What kind of air pollution are we talking about? Chemical emissions from carpeting, floor finishes, upholstery, wall coverings, cosmetics, gas stoves, electronic devices.  These can cause problems like allergies, fatigue, sinus congestion, to name a few.

I found a publication by the Mississippi State University Extension Office titled “4-H Clean Air Project” which talks about these pollutants and how plants can help clean the air and alleviate the health problems.  This is not new news.  I learned about this back in elementary school and kept a garden of potted plants in my bedroom just I wouldn’t get sick from any crazy chemicals in my home.  But, remember I also had my windows open, so I was pretty healthy.

Plants are great to have indoors and we usually don’t think of the benefits they provide. I just want to pass this along to you, the reader, in case you have put this knowledge on the back burner.

Indoor plants recommended on the MSU Extension booklet, because they are proven to reduce indoor air pollution, include Dwarf Banana, English Ivy, Peace Lily, Rubber Plants, Spider Plants.  There are apparently 50 plants studied that were found to reduce chemicals that are harmful to people, from indoor air.  These listed are just some of them and I chose to list these particular ones because they happen to be plants I’ve had in my house during the past years.  Spider Plants are difficult to find; they used to be plentiful as everyone had one hanging in their macrame hanging plant pots. Remember that?  Anyway, talk to your local nursery specialist or Extension Officer about other plants for clean air.

When you are out this season gathering your planting material and seeds for your garden, remember to by some plants for indoors, too.  It will help you with your spring cleaning.


Mississippi State University Extension Service Publication 2527, “4-H Clean Air Project, copyright 2010

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