Houseplants that improve indoor air quality are back in fashion


Remember the 80s? You sometimes couldn’t move for houseplants, but now, with the fashion for minimalism and people with little time to look after them, you would be hard pressed to find a home with any at all.

But here’s the thing. Houseplants are more than just pretty to look at. When you hear how these plants can have such a dramatic effect on your health, I am sure you’ll be rushing out to buy some!

Our homes can be toxic

Our homes have become increasingly insulated with numerous toxins emitted from our manufactured furniture, carpets and other objects made from synthetic materials which are sprayed with protective chemicals. Now our houses, rather than being calm, healthy place to retire to at the end of the day are actually becoming poisonous to our health. They say our indoor environment is 5 to 10 times more polluted than outside.

Plants, of course, provide oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. They also take toxins out of the air, but don’t just take my word for it. Back in the 80s, NASA wanted to find out how to create a sustainable atmosphere in outer space. So they took houseplants, and conducted experiments. They of course, confirmed their oxygen-providing properties, but were amazed at how effective they were in absorbing harmful toxins and neutralising their effect on the environment.


NASA Experiments

Here are some of the chemicals that houseplants successfully manage to absorb as proven by the NASA and ALCA experiments:

  • Trychloroethane (TCE) – a chemical found in dry cleaning, varnishes, adhesives and
  • Benzine – found in paints, ink, pharmaceuticals, detergents and dyes
  • Formaldehyde – found in particleboard, foam insulation, fabric (including new clothes), tissues, paper towels

There have been many scientific studies since the NASA experiments which show many other harmful chemicals such as xylene, toluene and ammonia are also reduced from the environment by using plants.

These chemicals can irritate eyes and skin, cause headaches and allergic reactions. They have even been linked to asthma, anaemia and even cancer.

With each picture in the calendar you will see what chemicals each plant removes – * is good, **are very good and *** are excellent.

Apart from the health benefits of keeping houseplants it is also a very cost effective way of filtering your air.


What is happening?

Incredible to think how clever these plants are! But how and why do houseplants act in this way? In their natural environment, houseplants and in particular tropical plants grow in dense rain forests where there is very little light and they’ve evolved to effectively absorb light and gases from the air. The gases are drawn down to the roots where the microbes absorb the chemicals.

Plants also help to maintain healthy humidity levels by increasing the amount of water vapour in the air – plant filtered rooms have 50-60% less airborne bacteria and mould spores.

So you can see why houseplants can be so beneficial to your environment. And additional benefits are that they create feelings of calmness and tranquillity, reduce feelings of anxiety, anger and sadness, reduce stress levels, speed recovery from mental tiredness and at work plants can improve productivity and reduce absenteeism. The process of caring for plants can improve feelings of health and wellbeing.

NASA is not the only organisation to investigate this field- also Pennsylvania State University , John C Stennis Space Center and there are many more.

The Norwegian University of Agriculture found indoor plants reduced certain health conditions

  • Fatigue 20%,
  • Headache 45%,
  • Sore/dry throat 30%,
  • Coughs 40%,
  • Dry facial skin 25%

Advice and care

Usually houseplants like a well-lit, draught-free location, even temperature and reasonable humidity. Most do not like direct sunlight for long periods and generally speaking flowering plants need more light. Some of the plants in this calendar thrive in darker conditions.

Over watering can kill houseplants. Keep compost moist and then wait until nearly dried out before watering again. Water the plants less frequently in winter months.

Many plants will grow with infrequent feeding but plants in flower require more.

Too many houseplants could cause greater humidity which could increase mould and bacteria growth. With that in mind, you should have around one plant(size-20 to 30cm pots) for every 100 square feet (3 for every 100 square meters), don’t over water them, and put a layer of fine gravel on top of the earth, as this helps to retain moisture.

Some of the plants shown are toxic for children and pets so either select carefully or locate them out of harm’s way. The safest plants are the Spider plant, Gerbera Daisy and Areca Palm.

Wipe the leaves about once a week to ensure their effectiveness.

Plants have a positive effect on your life, so if you don’t have any it’s time to buy some.

Choose your plants from this 2017 Calendar and see how they affect how you feel.


£7.50 plus postage and packing


If you would like to purchase the calendar, contact me here


All profits from this calendar are going to Wellbeing Link- a volunteer led community support group in Dartford.

Disclaimer- The health information in this calendar is solely to promote consumer health and does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician.