Peppers in Pots
Did you know that one potted plant per 100 square feet will clean the air in an average home or office?
WHY GROW HOUSEPLANTS
Simply looking at a potted plant stimulates creative thinking.
People who garden have long known the psychological benefits of caring for plants. Gardening helps reduce stress and simply having plants around, even if you don’t care for them yourself greatly adds to one’s sense of relaxation. Studies have also shown that installing indoor landscaping in a business establishment can increase work productivity and reduce absenteeism. Many commercial establishments such as hotels and restaurants have also long realized how having interior landscapes attracts and pleases customers.
But the greatest benefit of indoor plants, which is gaining widespread knowledge and ever-growing relevance, is their ability to purify the air. We often think of the outdoors as the place where pollution threatens. After all, we can clearly see, smell and sometimes even hear the exhaust coming out of all those vehicles crowding our city streets. What we don’t realize is that indoors – where many of us spend nearly 90% of our time – is where invisible chemical toxins actually lurk.
Just think of all the time we spend indoors –– at home, at work, in school. Many of us believe that the air indoors is a lot safer than the visibly polluted air out on the streets. Yet the most harmless-looking items actually release invisible chemical vapors into our homes, offices and school buildings. Ceiling tiles, wall and floor coverings, paint, varnish and adhesives release formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, and alcohols.
Cosmetics may emit alcohols and acetone. Formaldehyde also comes from draperies, upholstery and other fabrics, facial tissue, gas cookers, grocery bags, and plywood. Photocopiers and other duplicating machines or printers may emit additional toluene, benzene, trichloroethylene and ammonia. Without a doubt, health problems can arise from the volatile organic chemicals we get from all the synthetic materials that surround us daily.
Humans themselves are a source of pollution, especially in closed, poorly ventilated areas like some offices and crowded schoolrooms. Substances released from normal biological processes include carbon monoxide, methane, alcohols, ethyl acetate among others. All in all, we release as many as 150 volatile substances into the air by simply being normal, healthy, living, breathing human beings! Compound this with the fact that almost anywhere we go, we are confronted by tobacco smoke.
Some people produce allergic reactions to indoor pollutants. Others don’t experience any symptoms immediately. But when exposed to them for an extended period of time, they may become hypersensitive to these materials and develop acute reactions later on even when exposed to minute quantities. Infants and small children are most susceptible. In fact, in approximately 90% of children with asthma, the disease is allergic in nature.
What complicates matters is that the requirements of
air-conditioning in many homes, workplaces, and schools actually seal in
these pollutants. Without proper filters, ventilation and maintenance
procedures, this could pose a serious health threat. In the phenomenon known
as “sick building syndrome”, which is a collection of symptoms experienced
by people working or living in a place suspected of being the source of
their unexplained ailments, symptoms include eye, nose and throat
irritations, sinus congestion, headaches and fatigue.
Thankfully, studies have shown that plants brought into a room will absorb these chemicals and put oxygen back into the air. Yes, plants are beautiful and relaxing to look at. But these days, it is highly recognized that the best thing about indoor plants is their air purifying abilities. One potted plant can help clean the air in 100 square feet of space. Plants also release phytochemicals that suppress mould spores and bacteria found in the air by up to 60%.
There is a huge and ever-growing diversity of plants that are well-suited to the indoors. And the best part is, most of them are low-maintenance natives of the tropics so that even beginning gardeners need not fear the challenge of growing them. Read our sections on lighting, feeding and watering and you're well on your way to creating a truly beneficial indoor garden.
When moving a plant in from the outdoors, all it takes is patience to keep it from shedding its leaves once it moves inside. Outdoors, in full sun, plants generally produce leaves that are not very efficient in converting light energy into food. Because outside, where light is plentiful, they don't need to be very efficient.
When you move a plant that's used to high light levels indoors, the plant sheds leaves because it can't make enough food to sustain itself. That is, until it grows new leaves more suited to low-light levels. To give your plant time to grow these new leaves in preparation for life indoors, you can gradually accustom the plant to lower light levels. Put it in semi-sun to partial shade for a couple of weeks first before bringing it indoors. You know it's ready for its new home when you see plenty of new growth on the plant already.
When taking plants out from the indoors, be sure to do it gradually, too. You can literally burn a plant to death if you don't.
DUST THE LEAVES OF
Indoor plants have learned to thrive under low light conditions. They make the most of whatever light is available in order for them to process their own food. That's the meaning behind photosynthesis: "photo" indicates that the plants use light to "synthesize" or manufacture their own food. When dust covers their leaves, this further cuts the already meager ration of light the indoor plants receive. Believe it or not, you actually give your plants a better diet simply by wiping their leaves clean with a damp cloth!