Friday, September 27, 2013

Forty-Four House Plants

After getting a Fiddle Leaf Fig, I liked it so much that I thought ... it is not good for this plant to be alone. And I got it two friends! 

I had some small red pots in the basement with the Christmas decorations. They had a past life as a failed windowsill garden. I sprayed them gold and planted a Dracaena and an Aloe Vera from Lowe's. I love the contrast between their leaves!

After I got house plants on my brain, I started reading. NASA did a study in the 80's regarding the use of plants to purify the air in the space station. Besides producing oxygen from carbon dioxide, plants can filter out indoor pollutants such as ammonia, acetone, benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. These are commonly referred to as "VOCs" (volatile organic compounds), and they come from everyday materials in your home such as paints and varnishes, car exhaust, carpet, cleaning products, plywood, electronic, textiles, dyes, insulation, and plastic. So, everything.

Are my three little house plants making a difference?

This Old House has an article listing 10 houseplants that are great for air purification. Unfortunately, none of my three houseplants made the list. Their expert recommends at least 2 plants (10-12" pot) per 100 square feet of space in order to purify the air, with more if you are renovating. Our house is about 2200 square feet (I can't remember if that includes the unfinished basement) so that would be 44 plants. FORTY-FOUR?? 

When I came home with these two plants, Jon was genuinely confused. "What are the plants for? Didn't you just get a plant?" If I came home with forty-one more he would probably shred my bank card. But would the air smell different? Would I have more energy? Would I live longer? I do have a third red pot that is still empty...

I have the two new plants sitting out on the dining room table, since we never eat there anyway. Unfortunately, Millie is still digging in the plants like a mole. She's also chewing on the leaves -- see the teeth marks below at the tips of all the leaves? If I had forty-four houseplants, Millie would turn into a wild jungle cat.

I think some of these mole-cat prevention devices may be in my future:
How many house plants do you have at your place?


  1. I think we just have one houseplant.
    Unfortunately I think Malachi and Millie treat plants about the same. Although I'm not sure he would nibble on them.
    You should get some aloe vera. They are supposed to be especially good for the air (maybe that way you wont need all 44 plans to meet your quota).

    1. The little fat one is an aloe vera! If I get another plant, I am thinking of trying a spider plant. There is a huge one at work that I think I could harvest a mini plant from.

    2. Oh, now that I look at the top-view picture I can see the aloe vera resemblance!

  2. Anonymous8:39 pm

    I think spider plants might be on that list of good indoor air filtering plants, and yes they are easy to start from one of the hanging 'babies'. Maybe you should get some cat-repellant to rub on your plants b/c they look nice - so far! Those glass mole-cat covers look nice, but are they made to cover a plant? do they have air holes, etc? Like your once-red pots, too. You may sure take any 'baby' plants from my collection next time you come here. -Mom

    1. Mom, did you count your plants?? I am so curious!


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