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Posted at: Nov 11, 2017, 2:15 AM; last updated: Nov 11, 2017, 2:17 AM (IST)BREATHLESS

How to add a breath of life to your home

As smog shrouds most of the cities in the region, there is no escape from the toxic air. With indoor air quality levels also deteriorating, the situation has become alarming
How to add a breath of life to your home
Chlorophytum comosum

Amarjeet Singh Batth

Your home can be a refuge against most dangers, but it may not provide complete protection when it comes to air pollution. Some indoor plants, however, have been found to be very effective weapons in tackling this bitter reality of urban living air pollution. Here’s a look at some such “green savious”: 

Asparagus densiflorus(Asparagus Fern)

It is an ever green plant with long, arching stems, with short, needle-like leaflets. It is a cascading plant that makes it ideal for a hanging basket. It needs bright indirect filtered light, so it should be placed near a window in the living room. 

Irrigation schedule: Moderate watering with a dry spell in between proves beneficial for this plant. Mist the leaves daily to keep the humidity levels high. 

Maintenance and care: Bright light and dry soil causes dryness in the plant. Reporting and multiplication must be done in spring. 

Guards against: This plant has a good capability to absorb benzene, octane and trichloroethylene.   

Chlorophytum comosum(Spider plant)

This plant produces a rosette of long, thin, arched foliage that is solid green or variegated with white. It is an easy-to-grow plant that requires bright to moderate indirect sunlight and does not appreciate direct sunlight. The best location for this plant is close to windows indoors.  It can be used in hanging baskets as well as in pots next to your desk.

Irrigation schedule: Irrigate moderately but do not let soil dry out. Dryness causes tip-burn. 

Maintenance and care: A monthly administration of fertiliser during spring is desirable. This plant produces tiny white flowers in summers and ‘off shoot’ which can be cut and planted as new plants.  

Guards against: It battles benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene, which are used as solvents in the leather, rubber and printing industries.

Dracaena merginata

This is a very impressive ‘specimen’plant with multiple woody canes and long thin green leaves trimmed in dark red. Dracaena marginata can be used as table plant, in lobby or balcony 

Irrigation schedule: Keep the soil moist. Overwatering causes root rot. Yellowing of leaves indicate water depravation, while brown indicate overwatering. In winters it may require weekly watering.  

Maintenance and care: It requires medium indirect light and shows slow growth in low light. Fertilise in summers and spring only. 

Guards against: It contributes in removing trichloroethylene from indoor air.

Epipremnum aureum(Money plant)

This is a perennial evergreen climbing vine with waxy, heart-shaped leaves marbled with white or yellow colour.  It is easy-to-grow and requires good indirect moderate sunlight. Leaves turn yellow and lose variegation in low light.  

Irrigation schedule: Irrigate moderately, overwatering can kill this plant, and dry soil can lead to wilting of leaves. 

Guards against: Money plant takes care of formaldehyde, xylene and benzene released from carpets and upholstery. Thus, place this plant in such places to neutralise the emissions.   

Ficus benjamina

Also known as fig plant, it can be grown as an indoor plant. The drooping glossy branches are pleasant to look at. This is a maintenance-free plant. It should be kept in a location that receives ample sunlight for long hours.

Maintenance and care: Ficus grows fast and requires plenty of nutrients, so give a light dose of fertiliser once a month. 

Irrigation schedule: In summer water till it drips from the drainage hole. But irrigate moderately rest of the year. Under and over watering both cause dropping of leaves. 

Guards against: This plant absorbs toxins like formaldehyde, xylene and touene.

Hedera helix(English Ivy)

Though this plant grows best in bright indirect light, placing it correctly is important. It may survive in low light, but will not thrive. Trimming the plant prevents from becoming long and leggy. 

Irrigation schedule: It requires moist soil. Irrigate freely in summers but just keep the soil moist in winters. In fact, a light spray of water is good especially during summers. 

Maintenance and care: A monthly dose of fertiliser should be maintained round-the-year, except in winters when the growth retards. English Ivy must be kept in a cool spot in a house as it does not thrive in warm conditions. Bathroom could be one place. 

Guards against: It is also an effective formaldehyde remover and cleanses the air of mold spores.

Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis'

(Boston ferns)

These have graceful green, drooping fronds that give a  natural ruffled effect. this plant needs a bright spot with indirect sunlight ideally near a window. But avoid placing this plant near south-facing windows. 

Irrigation schedule: Keep the soil moist but do not over water. In winters, however, carry out light irrigation only when the surface soil becomes dry. 

Maintenance and care: Ferns need extra care and it is essential to maintain good humidity levels. The plants should be kept away from direct heat. Do not keep them near a fire place that emits smoke or close to a burner (kitchen). Leaves turn brown due to persistent dryness. If you want to wash off dust, give a light shower and do not use any shine product. 

Guards against: It removes formaldehyde much more than any other plant. It also removes benzene and xylene as well.

Sansevieria trifasciata

(Snake plant)

This plant is often seen in public gardens and is very easy to grow. It is a hardy plant that survives in low light as well as in drought-like conditions. 

Irrigation schedule: Maintenance includes less water during winters. it is enough to just keep the soil moist. 

Maintenance and care:  Wipe the leaves with damp cloth to clear the leaves of dust for good looks. Potted plant can be placed in living room or in sitting place.  

Guards against: It removes toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and nitrogen oxides.

Philodendron domesticum

(Elephant ear philodendron)

This is a vine with long, arrow-shaped leaves. This plant prefers warm, humid conditions and diffused indirect light. It survives well in low light also. Place the pots in a cool, dark area such as a basement. It is highly tolerant to survive neglect and adverse conditions. 

Guards against: It absorbs formaldehyde.

Palms, e.g. Dypsis lutescens, (areca palm), Phoenix roebelenii (date palm), Chamaedorea seifrizii (bamboo palm),  and Rhapis excelsa (lady palm)  are easy to manage. They flourish in partial to diffused sunlight and need moderate irrigation. Overwatering may cause fungal threat. These palm are good for removing formaldehyde and can be kept indoors close to windows. 


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