In the early 1980's, when NASA researchers were looking for ways to purify the air inside the space pods of the future, they didn't just look to engineer a pricey, high-tech filtering system. They also turned to the humble houseplant. As the months grow colder and darker, driving you indoors, take a cue from NASA and put your plants to work absorbing the air pollutants lurking in your home or office.
Bill Wolverton, PHD, who helped pioneer the NASA studies, selected a trio of potted powerhouses. (For freshest results, Wolverton recommends covering soil with a one-inch layer of pebbles or decorative gravel, which cuts the risk of mold and bacteria and keeps kids and pets from playing where they shouldn't. Arizona Pottery sells a colorful and stunning polished glass that not only looks elegant but is very functional for this purpose. click here to see.
Palms not only are top performers in removing airborne toxins but can add up to a liter of moisture to the air per day - perfect for counteracting the desert-dry effects of indoor heating systems.
This thirsty, shiny mainstay is ideal for rooms that don't receive much sunlight (and aren't most rooms like that in November?) It's particularly adept at filtering formaldehyde, which is found in many adhesives and floor coverings.
In cheerful reds, pinks, and yellows, this flowering fall plant is an excellent filter of airborne chemicals such as benzene (emitted by gasoline, ink, paint, and pesticides) and ammonia (common in cleaning supplies).
"Just because you've only got houseplants doesn't mean you don't have the gardening spirit - I look upon myself as an indoor gardener". - Sara Moss-Wolfe