Friday, January 12, 2024

Clean air houseplants can provide welcome benefits

By Kendra Raymond

With the winter slump well underway, many Mainers seek a reprieve from the drab landscape that envelops us in winter. For some, a new diet or workout routine does the trick, or for the lucky ones – a vacation to someplace warm. For the rest of us, some small touches to brighten our home can work wonders.

A healthy spider plant cultivated from cuttings
adorns a home in Raymond and brings some
measure of greenery into the long months 
A few well-curated house plants can be a healthy choice during the indoor winter months. A study by the National Institutes of Health concluded that “indoor plants affect participants’ objective functions positively, particularly in terms of relaxed physiology and improved cognition”.

Aside from the advantages to our mental and physical health, plants can be an enjoyable hobby.

Mary at the Windham Home Depot said, “We sell a lot more (houseplants) at this time of year. People want something green. They like spending time in the greenhouse – it is humid and feels like summer.” She said they have a wide range of plants available in 4–12-inch pots as well as all the accoutrements such as soil, fertilizer, pest control, and plant pots.

Lowes in Windham has an increased inventory of houseplants. Lawn and Garden center employee Luke says there is a real push on hanging plants. He said, “When it’s dreary and grey out, it helps people’s spirits having greenery around the house.” He says that people are buying a lot of pothos and palms this week.

Health benefits

The presence of houseplants can reduce both physiological and psychological stress and potentially improve concentration. Horticultural therapy is a practice where plants are used to boost the mood of those with anxiety or depression. Plants can improve creativity, productivity, and help people recover from illness faster.

Plants can improve the quality of indoor air. Phytoremediation is the use of plants to clean up toxic contaminants in the environment. A 1989 NASA study concluded that houseplants reduced airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs) substantially which include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects.

A plant-filled home can be a peaceful sanctuary where you can recharge from the outside world. The plant-owner relationship can also be positive – the plant depends on you for its care, and they reciprocate by cleaning the air and providing visual charm.

What types?

If you wish to add a clean air plant to your home, it is important to choose the right species.

The University of Florida Gardening Solutions program provides the following suggestions: philodendron, dracaena, or aloe vera. The spider plant and peace lily are extremely hardy varieties that anyone can grow and thrive on neglect.

The spider plant also reproduces readily, developing “spiderettes” on tiny vines that emerge from the base. Simply snip the baby off and place it directly into a new pot of soil. No rooting is necessary, and before you know it, you will have another full-size plant.

Other clean air varieties include bamboo palm, snake plant, English ivy, rubber plant, bromeliad, and Boston fern.

If you are interested in a flowering type, a bird of paradise, chrysanthemum, or gerbera daisy will provide a pop of color.

Where do I buy one?

Acquiring a clean air plant in our area is relatively simple. Blossoms and Studio Flora in Windham have a selection of house plants available. Best of all, experts will be ready to offer advice and guidance. You can also visit a big box store in town, where you will find many types to choose from. Additionally, the local grocery stores offer a modest selection of house plants that could suit your needs.


Some varieties of house plants can be toxic to animals or children so it’s a good idea to become informed before making a plant purchase.

ASPCA list of toxic and non-toxic plants:

National Poison Control center plant list:

Many houseplants can be transferred outdoors in the spring when all chance of frost has passed. They can add a homey touch to decks, steps, or porches and the plants will thrive in the sunlight and fresh air. Just keep an eye out for pests such as aphids that may travel inside. <

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