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NBC TODAY Show Appearance - Plants Keep Us Healthy

As seen on the NBC TODAY Show on Friday, January 22nd 2010 - plants help keep you healthy.  From air purifying houseplants to herbs that keep stress at bay I'll show you a variety of ways that plants can lend a hand to make our lives healthier.


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Air Purifying Houseplants

You may wonder why NASA is interested in houseplants.  Their interest isn’t so much about having a green thumb as it is about keeping the air healthy in the space station.  Luckily for us gardeners NASA got together the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, and together they came up with a list of plants known to purify and revitalize the air we breathe by removing key pollutants:

Formaldehyde – Used in consumer paper products that have been treated with UF resins including paper grocery sacks, paper towels, facial tissue, waxed paper, glue, insulation, plywood, and many household cleaners.

  - Common products that contain benzene are gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber, cigarette smoke, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) – This is a commercial product normally found in industrial products such as metal degreasing and dry cleaning industries. In addition, it is used in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives.

It is recommend that you add 15 - 20 in 6 - 8 inch pots for an 1,800 – 2,000 square foot home.  Here is a list of 10 plants to consider.

1.    Bamboo Palm - The Bamboo Palm pumps much needed moisture into the indoor atmosphere, especially during winter months when heating systems dry the air. This palm is also one of the top-rated plants tested for the removal of benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.

2.    English Ivy - English Ivy has been proven effective in removing airborne-mold as well as formaldehyde. If you have indoor pets, consider placing this plant by litter boxes or bird cages in your house. But put it out of reach of your pets because it is poisonous.

3.    Peace Lily - The Peace Lily excels in the removal of alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde.

4.    Areca Palm - Also known as Yellow Palm or Butterfly Palm, the Areca Palm is exceptionally tolerant of the indoor environment, releases copious amounts of moisture into the air, removes chemical toxins, and is beautiful to boot! The Areca is consistently rated among the best houseplants for removing all indoor air toxins tested.

5.    Boston Fern - As an indoor plant, the Boston Fern requires a certain amount of attention. It must have frequent misting and watering, or the leaves will quickly turn brown and begin to drop. It is the best for removing air pollutants, especially formaldehyde, and for adding humidity to the indoor environment.

6.    Rubber Plant - Bred for toughness, the Rubber Plant will tolerate dim light and cool temperatures, making it an excellent houseplant. This plant is easy to grow and is great for removing chemical toxins from the indoor environment, particularly formaldehyde.

7.    Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ - This is one of the best plants for removing trichloroethylene. These plants can tolerate neglect and dimly lit environments.

8.    Dwarf Date Palm
- Dwarf Date Palm is effective at removing xylene and toluene, harmful volatile organic chemicals which can be emitted from gasoline, adhesives, ceiling tiles, computer screens, paints, inks used in photocopiers, stains and varnishes, and upholstery among other common household products and materials.

9.    Australian Sword Fern - One of the best houseplants for air purification. The Australian Sword is excellent indoors because its older fronds do not shed as often as some other ferns.

10.    Weeping Fig - This is a very popular houseplant in temperate areas, due to its elegant growth and tolerance of poor growing conditions; it does best under bright, sunny conditions but will also tolerate considerable shade. It requires a moderate amount of watering in summer, and only enough to keep it from drying out in the winter. It does not need to be misted. The plant is sensitive to cold and should be protected from strong drafts. When grown indoors, it can grow too large for its situation, and may need drastic pruning or replacing.