Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Top 10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxins

A recent NASA study determined the top 10 plants for reducing indoor air pollution.

Dr. B.C. Wolverton, researcher and author of “How to Grow Fresh Air – 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office”, conducted plant studies for NASA that determined that plants can clean pollutants in homes, offices, factories and retail outlets. 

Top ten plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air:

1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

Also called the “Butterfly Palm”. An upright houseplant that is somewhat vase shaped. Specimen plants can reach 10 to 12 foot in height. Prefers a humid area to avoid tip damage. Requires pruning. When selecting an Areca palm look for plants with larger caliber trunks at the base of the plant. Plants that have pencil thin stems tend to topple over and are quite difficult to maintain.

2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

Also called the “Lady Palm”, this durable palm species adapts well to most interiors. The Rhapis are some of the easiest palms to grow, but each species has its own particular environment and culture requirements. The “Lady Palm” grows slowly, but can grow to more than 14′ in height with broad clumps often having a diameter as wide as their height.

3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

Also called the “reed palm”, this palm prefers bright indirect light. New plants will lose of some interior foliage as they acclimate to indoor settings. This plant likes to stay uniformly moist, but does not like to be over-watered or to sit in standing water. Indoor palms may attract spider mites which can be controlled by spraying with a soapy solution.

4. Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)

Grows very well indoors, preferring semi-sun lighting. Avoid direct sunlight, especially in summer. Young plants may need to be supported by a stake. The Ficus grows to 8’ with a spread of 5’. Wear gloves when pruning, as the milky sap may irritate the skin. Water thoroughly when in active growth, then allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering again. In winter keep slightly moist.

5. Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

The Dracaena grows to 10’ with a spread of 3’. Easy to grow, these plants do best in bright indirect sunlight coming from the east/west. They can adapt to lower light levels if the watering is reduced. Keep the soil evenly moist and mist frequently with warm water. Remove any dead leaves. Leaf tips will go brown if the plant is under watered but this browning may be trimmed.

6. Philodendron (Philodendron sp.)

One of the most durable of all house plants. Philodendrons prefer medium intensity light but will tolerate low light. Direct sun will burn the leaves and stunt plant growth. This plant is available in climbing and non-climbing varieties. When grown indoors, they need to be misted regularly and the leaves kept free of dust. Soil should be evenly moist, but allowed to dry between watering.

7. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

A hardy, drought-tolerant and long-lived plant, the Dwarf Date Palm needs a bright spot which is free of drafts. It grows slowly, reaching heights of 8-10’. The Dwarf Date Palm should not be placed near children’s play areas because it has sharp needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem. These can easily penetrate skin and even protective clothing.

8. Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”)

The Ficus Alii grows easily indoors, and resists insects. It prefers a humid environment and low to medium light when grown indoors. The Ficus Aliii should not be placed near heating or air conditioning vents, or near drafts because this could cause leaf loss. Soil should be kept moist but allowed to dry between watering.

9. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)

The Boston fern grows to 4’ in height with a spread up to 5’. It has feathery ferns which are best displayed as a hanging plant. It prefers bright indirect sunlight. Keep the soil barely moist and mist frequently with warm water. This plant is prone to spider mites and whitefly which can be controlled using a soapy water spray. Inspect new plants for bugs before bringing them home.

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”)

The Peace Lily is a compact plant which grows to a height of 3’ with a 2’ spread. This hardy plant tolerates neglect. It prefers indirect sunlight and high humidity, but needs to be placed out of drafts. For best results, the Peace Lily should be thoroughly watered, then allowed to go moderately dry between waterings. The leaves should be misted frequently with warm water.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

66 Things You Can Grow At Home: In Containers, Without a Garden

From apples and figs, to bananas, guavas and hops

Growing your own food is exciting, not only because you get to see things grow from nothing into ready-to-eat fruits and veggies, but you also don't have to worry about the pesticides they might contain, and you definitely cut down on the miles theyand youhave to travel.

If you're up to the challenge—and it really isn't much of one—growing your own food can be so rewarding. And so much cheaper! Just be sure to choose the right planter or container, learn how tomaintain it properly, and go find yourself some seeds! (Or starter plants.) Like this idea? Be sure to check out these 6 Crazy Concepts for Micro Gardens That Actually Work to get inspiration for designing your own garden in a small space. 

Here's a starter list of all the crazy things even urban gardeners, without space for a garden, can grow at home.
apple tree in container photo
Photo credit: Gardener's Supply

Tree fruits - including apples

1. Apples can be grown in a container; you can also grow them on the balcony or other small space using a technique called espaliering.
2. Kumquats
3. Avocados (plenty of extra tips online if you search)
4. Blackberries
5. Blueberries (sometimes helpful videos are available online)
6. Pomegranate
7. Cherries
8. Figs
9. Pears
lemon tree photo
Photo credit: Photodisc/Thinkstock

Citrus fruits

Citrus trees in particular are said to be good for beginning gardeners and are easy to grow indoors, so don't let inexperience or lack of outdoor space stop you from enjoying fresh-picked, hyper-local fruit.
10. Dwarf oranges
11. Grapefruit
12. Tangerines
13. Meyer lemons
14. Limes

Tropical fruits

Tropical fruits can also be surprisingly easy to grow indoors, even in non-tropical climates. Such as...
15. Bananas (look for container gardening tips online)
16. Pineapple
17. Papaya
18. Guavas (several varieties)
hops plant
Photo credit: ©

The real surprises

19. Hops—yes, as in the "spice" ingredient in beer. Turns out they're easy to grow!
20. Aloe Vera
21. Strawberries
22. Tea (well, herbal tea)
23. Quinoa!
tomato plant
Photo credit: ©

The non-surprises

24. Tomatoes
25. Summer squash
26. Other squashes, like acorn and pumpkin
27. Hot Peppers
28. Sweet peppers
29. Cucumbers


30. Small cantaloupe
31. Jenny Lind melon (an heirloom cantaloupe)
32. Golden Midget Watermelon
herbs garden photo
Photo credit: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock


Just about any herb grows well indoors—just be sure that if you're going to do any container-sharing, you do your research first about which herbs co-habitate well together. (Some will hog water, for example, and leave the others dried out.)
33. Basil
34. Oregano
35. Parsley
36. Rosemary
37. Chives
38. Catnip
39. Thyme
40. Sage
41. Parsley
kale container garden
Photo credit: Comstock Images/Thinkstock

Leafy Greens

42. Kale
43. Mesclun greens
44. Spinach
45. Swiss chard
46. Lettuces (plenty of options there, from micro-greens to head or loose-leaf)
47. Mustard greens
48. Collard greens
49. Arugula

Root Vegetables

50. Carrots
51. Beets
52. Potatoes
growing wheatgrass photo
Photo credit: Pixland/Thinkstock

Other healthy-sounding stuff

53. Sprouts
54. More sprouts: mung bean and lentil sprouts
55. Wheatgrass
56. Kohlrabi
57. Turnips
58. Rutabagas
59. Celeriac
60. Parsnips
61. Jerusalem Artichoke
62. Sugar snap peas
63. Rhubarb (not ideal in a container, but it can work)
64. Mushrooms (again, more tips online if you look)
65. Pole Beans
66. Aaaand... asparagus, although some disagree that it does well in a container. Try it if you're ok with a risk!
Bonus 67: You can grow your own loofah, too, but you'd need a garden rather than a container for that.
Published originally by Planet Green