I was clicking around on TED.com when I came across a fascinating video by Kamal Meattle about 3 plants that produce so much oxygen, you could sit in a sealed container and live off of the air they supply. The quality of the air we breathe has such a massive effect on our health and wellness that I really couldnt ignore the points he raised.
More often than not, living in the city will have you breathing in all kinds of terrible chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene, so its not surprising that rural folk have less instances of asthma, respiratory tract infections and allergenic issues. These 3 plants will give you a taste of country life, even in the busiest cities in the world.
Butterfly Palm Dypsis lutescens
Also known as areca palm, the butterfly palm tree is a great plant to line your bathrooms and gardens with. They respond really well to heavy, consistent (every 10 or so days) watering but are quite sensitive to additives in water. If you live in a hard-water area or arent sure about the quality, it may be an idea to invest in a water filter/purifier to avoid sabotaging your palm. Its best not to allow the soil to dry out (which will make the fronds droop) but if you do, slowly re-watering it will perk them back up in no time.
They respond best to bright and indirect light, so theyll do great in sunny bathrooms or on a shielded patio, but anywhere in your house roughly 6 feet away from a window which gets a lot of sun will be fine. Too much light will quickly burn them, so its best to err on the side of caution with this.
One last thing to be aware of is browning of the leaf tips. This isnt anything to be worried about and is quite natural, but when it happens, prune the branch from the base to stop your plant from wasting energy on trying to save it.
About four 5 plants per person is the ideal density
The leaves will need to be wiped down at least once every 2 days in cities to keep them clean
Removes carcinogens (xylene and toluene) from the air during the day
Can grow to 12 tall
Mother In Laws Tongue Sansevieria trifasciata
Named after their shape (long, sharp leaves) there arent many plants I adore more than the mother in laws tongue. Their snaking, variegated (multi-coloured) leaves are absolutely gorgeous and a few of these dotted around your home can really add some post-modern beauty that just keeps giving. Like most tropical plants, leaving them outdoors in cooler regions will certainly do them a lot of harm, so unless youre lucky enough to live in a hot country, its best to keep yours inside. Luckily, theyre pretty low-maintenance (considering how attractive they are, thats quite a surprise) and will tolerate some pretty intense conditions.
When it comes to watering, if youre quite forgetful your snake plant wont mind at all, so dont panic too much if you dont have a strict schedule in place. During the warmer months, try to allow the soil to dry out a little in between watering and water only when needed. When it comes to the cooler, dormant months, dont worry about watering at all unless the soil looks really dry, they wont need much water when not growing.
One of the more important aspects of taking care of your plant is ensuring it has a well-draining soil. In the wild, theyre likely to be found in sandy soil, because water slides through so easily. If you cant find any sandy soil to plant yours in, any well-draining potting mix will be fine (anything but that wretched clay).
Its worth noting that those leaves are quite dense and the snake plant will get pretty top-heavy as it grows taller, try to keep it in a heavy pot with a sturdy base to prevent it from toppling over. Also, the leaves contain a toxin which will numb your voice-box and make it very hard to talk (maybe they should give these out at weddings?)
By the way, if your starts to flower, take pictures/videos and anything you can to document it. No matter how well yours is treated, its quite uncommon for them to bloom, so its a sight worth keeping
Roughly five waist height plants per room is ideal
Removes carcinogens (formaldehyde) from the air at night
Converts carbon dioxide to oxygen
Devils Ivy Epipremnum aureum
Although this is known colloquially as the money plant I didnt want it to get confused with jade, which is also a great air-cleaner, but not one Ill be covering today. Devils ivy is a tall, creeping vine and will assassinate any plants in its way on the road to total domination, so unless you have a way to keep it separate from the rest of your garden, Id recommend leaving it in a pot indoors. They do well in medium light, but will easily tolerate slightly darker conditions, which makes them perfect for places like directly underneath a window or a low-light bathroom. Bright, direct sunlight is likely to scorch the leaves. Like the mother in laws tongue, this is another toxic plant and caution should be taken in situations involving children and pets.
Theyll survive some pretty cold conditions (to around 0c) so you should be okay to leave it outside in a pot as long as it wont get much cooler than that. Water on a regular basis and dont let the soil get too dry in between, to keep them growing voraciously. As the plant gets more and more comfortable, youll start finding streaks of gold on the leaves, so thats a good indicator that everything is going well with the plant.
Removes carcinogens (formaldehyde) from the air
Works well when grown hydroponically
No post about removing carcinogens from the air would be complete without a mention of the wonderful peace lily, which is also fantastic at keeping your respiratory organs smiling.