Did you know the average person spends 90 percent of their time indoors? That’s a lot of time with sparse fresh air and a buildup of air pollutants. In 1989, NASA realized its astronauts in the first space station would be experiencing the effects of prolonged time indoors. They conducted a study to see what could improve air quality and the results led to an easy, décor-friendly answer: house plants.
The Air Up There
Indoor air pollutants are ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health, with the EPA estimating air quality being two to five times more polluted indoors. So what’s in the air that’s so bad? To start, most modern day construction has an emphasis on energy conservation. Buildings adhere to this by using more insulation, which can be more energy efficient but also traps air pollutants.
Newer buildings and design also feature materials that release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These can be found in things like furniture, paint and carpet. There are also usually a large number of people in these spaces, meaning higher levels of carbon dioxide, or CO2.
Pollutants in the air with poor ventilation can lead to something called Sick Building Syndrome. Symptoms of the illness include many flu-like symptoms like headache, nausea, fatigue and difficulty focusing. Whether at home or work, these symptoms could impact productivity immensely.
Business owners are considering employee health and green initiatives now more than ever. Not only do they want green building operations, but they also want a space that will allow for plant life to succeed and filter the air. NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology reports that office tenants are willing to pay almost ten percent more for buildings with green initiatives. By pointing out features like large windows to accommodate plants, commercial buyers recognize opportunities for employees to be happier and healthier.
A simple and decorative way to rid your air of pollutants is to increase the number of plants. Back in elementary school, you may have learned about something called photosynthesis. Plants absorb the CO2 in the air which is then processed into oxygen, a quick fix for cleaner air. Not only does it help convert CO2 into oxygen, the microorganisms in the soil also help clean the air of other pollutants like ammonia, mold and formaldehyde.
We’ve laid out a variety of plant options in this article that you can choose for your personal space or to recommend to your clients. Buyers may be more likely to purchase a home with a variety of plants knowing the air is cleaner and for aesthetics reasons. They may also feel more life within a home and be able to see themselves in it with personal, lively touches like plants. Not to mention, productivity increases when greenery is added in our environments, meaning your office can close more deals and help more customers with the addition of a few plants.
If you’re worried about the upkeep of plants, being out of town often or not having a lot of light in your space – don’t worry! Every plant comes with different needs; some are much easier to care for than others. Plus, many of these plants can be found for reasonable prices at your local garden shop or home improvement store.
Staging with Greenery
If your clients are selling a home, recommend using plants throughout the house. Houses can often feel cold without photos or keepsakes; adding plants not only clears the air of chemicals, but gives life to the room. Be sure to trim the plants and water them before the showing so they have the best color possible. Consider using decorative ceramic pots for a personal touch.
What You Need to Get Started
All plants need some form of light – some more than others. Consider your space and access to light and select a plant from there. Most house plants like indirect or filtered sunlight, which is easy to find in many spaces. A select few need direct sunlight, like cacti or succulents.
Water is necessary for all plants to survive. Like light, plants need varying amounts of water. A general rule is to water once a week or when the soil becomes dry. A quick touch of the soil itself is the best way to tell. Some plants, like the Snake Plant or Rubber Plants, can tolerate more time in between watering, if needed.
Lastly, most plants like a steady temperature. Placing them near a vent or too close to a window may change the temperature too often, leaving an unhappy plant. If you choose plants that like humidity, spritzing the leaves with water to keep them moist will satisfy them.
Now that you are ready to spruce up your environment and improve your air quality, it’s time to select plants that work for you or your client’s needs. Below is a starter list of plants based on ease of care. Check out the rest of our favorite chemical-removing house plants on the next page. Mix and match plants of different removal strengths and care levels to make your space more lively and productive.