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Best Indoor Plants

Want to know my secret weapon to reducing stress and keeping my home clean and green? Okay, so it may seem a bit odd that I’m writing about stress and clean living for a blog about indoor plants. But living plants do so much more than just enhance our homes and workplaces with color, texture and beauty.

Studies have shown that indoor plants or houseplants reduce blood pressure and overall stress levels. And these living green machines are also surprisingly efficient at absorbing indoor toxins and air pollution–an important benefit given that indoor air pollution from the off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found to be up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors. And it all starts with the process of photosynthesis.

Houseplants trap and absorb indoor toxins and pollutants in their leaves. All houseplants function as nature’s air filters to varying degrees. But the group of tropical and subtropical houseplants do a much better job at it than others.

Years ago NASA tested the ability of many different houseplants for removing indoor toxins. Some of these helpful houseplants include Chinese Evergreen, Golden Pothos, Janet Craig Dracaena, Warneck Dracaena, Elephant Ear Philodendron, Heartleaf Philodendron, Peace Lily, Spider Plant, and Weeping Fig. And many of these plants can be found at your local Kmart.

To keep your home clean and green, you’ll need about one houseplant for every 100 square feet of living area. Though the bigger the plant, the bigger the area they will filter. Most of these “green living” houseplants are grown in my kitchen/family room and office as these are the areas where I spend most of my time. Some of the houseplants on the list I have grown for decades and are among my favorites. Here are growing tips for seven.

Chinese Evergreen is resilient in the shadier spaces of my home, though the variegated types do best in bright, indirect light. An evenly moist soil (water less in winter) and regular misting of leaves is all that’s needed to keep this plant happy.

Golden pothos excels in a bright but sunless area or under fluorescent lights. Keep the soil slightly moist and allow it to dry between waterings. This is a very low-maintenance plant. However the vines can grow to 20 feet, so grow it in a place where it can climb or ramble, and be prepared to prune.

Heartleaf Philodendron is among the easiest and most tolerant of philodendrons. This plant grows best in light shade to bright indirect light in slightly moist soil. Pinching the plant’s tips now and then will keep foliage thick and bushy.

Janet Craig Dracaena is slow-growing (up to 4 feet tall), dense in growth, and a no-fuss plant to grow when given low or diffused light and evenly moist soil. Be forewarned–leaf tips will turn brown if the soil gets too dry.

Peace lily dresses up my kitchen with its consistent parade of fragrant, lily-like white flowers. Be sure to keep soil consistently moist, but not overly wet, and give it moderate to bright indirect light. This one thrives on regular mistings.

Spider plant is a classic for its adaptability, fast growth, and profusion of baby spider plant that dangle from beneath the mother plant. All it needs is bright indirect light, evenly moist soil during the growing season (water sparingly in winter), and an appreciation of its worth.

Weeping fig performs best in bright light and slightly moist soil. Give it a permanent spot to call home. (The leaves are sensitive to light changes, which may result in the plant dropping its leaves.) Mine has been growing happily for many years beneath a skylight.

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kris wetherbee

 

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  1. We have many house plants but I can't wait to add Chinese Evergreen to our group. Thanks Kris!

    1. In response to petfam

      Hi Petfam! Chinese evergreen has always been a reliable and very easy to grow plant for me. What are some of your current favorites in your collection?

  2. Being an Oregonian myself this will help my daughter and I pick out a few plants for our new homes. We are loving the thought of trying the peace lily and the Janet Craig Dracaena for their descriptions fit perfectly in our apartments.

    Thank you Kris for sharing!

    1. In response to SHC-WendyFD-2

      Both are excellent plants for your apartment. In fact I would put Janet Craig on the "extremely tough to kill" list. It is such a resilient plant. Enjoy!

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