Clearing the air

Fri. Jan. 5, 2018

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Clearing the air

The aromas of holiday cooking still linger in our minds and perhaps in the drapes too if we’ve burned anything!  Not that I would know about that!  But in case I did, I know a way to “clear the air”.  Plants!  Between 1980 and 1984 NASA, yes THAT NASA, proved plants in sealed test chambers that were exposed to volatile organic chemicals could remove them from the air.  NASA top 50 air cleaning plants

I just purchased this Red Prayer plant.  I’ve seen some diverse ways of caring for it but all of them say keep it out of direct light and water it….  wish me luck!  There are many varieties of prayer plant, click for more info

Maranta leuconeura

Houseplants are a great, natural way to clear the air in our closed up homes during the winter.  They reduce unhealthy pollutants and airborne bacteria along with adding humidity to the air.  Plants leaves are able to absorb the icky air, send it down to it’s roots where it becomes food for microbes.  How cool is that!  Place 2 or 3 plants in each room with space around each plant for air circulation and you have your own air purifying machine!  Keep the leaves clean of dust and they’ll absorb more pollutants.

Top 5 air cleaning plants according to NASA:

  • Areca Palm – this one needs some light and definitely needs room.  Generally grown in office spaces

Areca Palm - NASA number one for air cleaning

  • Lady Palm (Rhapis excels) – this one handles lower light
  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) –not really practical for a houseplant!
  • Rubber plants aka Ficus elastica – easy care and grows to fit any environment

Ficus Elastica

Ficus Elastica – this is what happens when there’s no room to grow Up!


Ficus at KYMN studios
  • Dracaena – Janet Craig – Janet Craig is one of the most popular Draceanas used indoors, likely due to it’s ability to grow in low light and tolerate considerable dryness.
dracaena fragrans

Honestly, any houseplant is great!  Some certainly better than others but they all have air cleaning properties, so enjoy your favorites!  Including the Christmas Cactus!


Some of my favorites include Spider Plant, which is listed 39 of the top 50 plants identified by NASA.  I happen to love it!   Snake Plant, also known as Mother-in-law tongue, (sometimes speculation on the whys of a nickname are best left unspoken)

Mother-in-law tongue aka Snake Plant aka Sansevieria

This plant loves low light and absorbs formaldehyde, a common ingredient in cleaning products.  It also appears that more than one of us in the office is watering it….  hence the drooping leaves.