When you walk into a beauty salon, do your eyes begin to water? How about the perfume counter at Macy’s….do you see double for a few minutes after passing by it or a man with a bit too much foo-foo water, as my grandmother used to call scented after-shave? When you put in new carpet, paint, or exterminate your home, does your spouse/child develop a horrible headache? Chances are pretty good those symptoms signal a chemical bomb attacking your system. Whether it is the combination of gases or a personal sensitivity to a specific one, a strong reaction might be your body’s way of sending up a white flag in surrender to something it fears.
Sometimes the reaction is too subtle to notice. Or we blame an exterior source such as ragweed or pollen instead of the actual culprit. Over time the reaction may become more severe. If you note a correlation between a PLACE and an allergy related SYMPTOM – like itchy eyes, runny or congested nose or sneezing, skin rash, headache, sore throat – you might want to look into the root cause. Other reactions that can be a result of poor air quality are nausea, depression and drowsiness. And while we can’t completely avoid indoor air pollution, it is possible to lessen the impact with houseplants in your home. Both NASA and the Soviet space program found plants invaluable for cleaning an airtight room. Recent studies from India have isolated the top THREE PLANTS at mitigating a “sick building” so YOU don’t become the one ill. (Watch this short TED video of the Top 3 Houseplants for Removing Toxic Air in India and which room to put each in for best results or use this website to see how many/where/which plants to use.)
GOLDEN POTHOS/POTHOS IVY/MONEY PLANT: super easy, even under artificial lighting; trails, so either give it support or locate it on top of a bookshelf;
MOTHER-IN-LAW TONGUE: another super easy; great architectural, grass-like form to it for a more contemporary setting;
ARECA/CANE PALM: this one’s a little trickier for me because it needs good sunlight and takes up quite a bit of space, but great tropical feel.
A few more of my favorites are:
CORN PLANT: more tree-ish, but very easy with enough natural light, like an east or west facing window
SPIDER PLANT: this is another one that does well on a shelf, but it needs a more direct light source than the ivy; also a variegated form
PEACE LILY: this the mascot of my office (thanks to my friend Brenda Dickinson!) with southeastern light coming in from the atrium; nice white flower and upright, even when large it stays relatively compact
Mold is a killer for my allergies and indoor plants in soggy soil can be a huge source. I try to set my plants into the bathtub once a week or so for a nice long drink, then put them back into their water-proof tray afterwards. There are specific household products that will curtail mold growth, but I just try not to use anything like that. A periodical bath outside works great, too. DO NOT cover the plant’s base with moss since it will encourage fungal growth. Plants like pothos ivy and airplane are quite happy growing in WATER and might be a better choice.
Also be aware that some houseplants are poisonous to pets or when munched on by toddlers.