Power Houseplants: Peace Lily

Power Houseplants - Peace Lily.jpg

So far, we've gotten to know the Golden Pothos and the Dracaena, also known as Janet Craig, both of which are incredible additions to any holistic space. But what if you prefer flowering plants? Good news! Fourteen of the 50 top plants for homes and indoor spaces include flowers! The most helpful of these options is the Peace Lily, part of the Top 10 list of purifying plants. 

The Peace Lily is one of my favorite plants and is actually something of a superstar in the world of indoor plants. Only a few plants meet or exceed the Peace Lily's ability to remove VOCs from indoor air and improve air quality through transpiration, and it is noted as one of the only plants that will reliably bloom indoors. In fact, Dr. B.C. Wolverton touts the Peace Lily as a plant that "should always be included when seeking a variety of indoor plants." 

The Peace Lily features sturdy stalks and white flowers which can even be trimmed to avoid pollen, if allergies are an issue. As with many houseplants, there are a number of varieties, including the Cleavelandii and the Mauna Loa, which can reach two and three feet, respectively. It is worth noting that the Peace Lily is poisonous to humans and animals if ingested, so it's important to take care if you have pets or children! If you can place the plant out of reach, do so. If you are not confident your pets will leave the Peace Lily alone, take a look at some of our other favorites here

This plant is relatively easy to care for and resistant to insects, so as long as you can commit to regular watering and a little light, a Peace Lily is the way to go! 

To Grow Successfully:

- Place your plant in semi-sun or semi-shade. Not too much of either!
- Maintain a daytime temperature of 60 - 75 degrees and a night temperature of 55 - 68. 
- Keep the soil evenly moist and wash leaves occasionally to ward off insects. 
- Hold off a bit on the watering during winter!

Is there somewhere in your home or office you can add a Peace Lily for a little Wood element, healing and fresh air?

by Anjie Cho


Power Houseplants: Dracaena "Janet Craig"

Power Houseplants - Dracaena %22Janet Craig%22.jpg

Last week we learned about the Golden Pothos, one of the most common and easy-to-grow plants on the list of 50 houseplants that purify a home or office. This week, we're getting to know the Dracaena, commonly known as Janet Craig, one of the top five plants in this collection!

As we know, houseplants are powerful and useful feng shui adjustments and are excellent additions to a holistic space to improve mood and indoor air quality. The Dracaena is one of the best options for the latter use and is a great choice for office spaces, as it is one of the best removers of trichloroethylene, a VOC that is produced by photocopiers and similar machines. The Janet Craig is also one of the top five ranking plants in removal of formaldehyde, a much more common volatile compound produced by many household items, from fabrics to grocery bags to upholstery and more. 

Similar in appearance to the lucky bamboo we often use, the Dracaena is a lush plant with dark green leaves that can grow up to ten feet tall! If you don't have that kind of space, there is a Compacta version that only reaches about three feet. This version is actually ideal for indoor growing, especially if your space lacks light or you're a forgetful gardener. It's hearty enough to live through neglect and low light, and it can live for decades! 

To Grow Successfully:

- Look for any light available in a dimly lit space. The Dracaena can grow in shade, but it will move more slowly. Its ideal environment is shade with some sunlight.
- Keep a temperature of 60 - 75 degrees. This plant can grow in lower temperatures, but the leaves may be yellow, rather than green.
- Keep your plant's soil evenly moist, and don't let the roots dry out. 
- If possible, fertilize every two weeks in spring and summer
- Clean the leaves occasionally with a damp cloth

Check out the plants on our How to Grow Fresh Air post, and let us know which one you'd like to learn about next!

by Anjie Cho


The Ins and Outs of Sick Building Syndrome

The Ins and Outs of Sick Building Syndrome.jpg

Much of my work pertains to homes, apartments and other personal spaces, but the importance of indoor air quality (IAQ) relates to your working environment as well. In modern times, we spend a little less than 1/3 of our time at work on average. That's a lot of time in the same space! Unfortunately, these spaces are often poorly ventilated and filled with a host of other issues that lead to sick building syndrome, which is as gross as it sounds. 

Sick building syndrome is a collection of symptoms that seem to be caused directly by spending time in a certain building, often an office. These symptoms can include anything from headaches, dizziness and sensitivity to smell to asthma attacks, flu-like symptoms and even personality changes! Long term, they can even lead to cancer, pregnancy difficulties and other more serious issues. Not only do these issues cause us to feel poorly, they can also result in higher incidents of missing work and difficulty being productive when we do make it in. 

These effects can be caused by many factors, including:

  • external pollution (think car exhaust, radon, asbestos, lead paint) that leaks indoors through ventilation
  • VOCs off gassed by a number of office supplies like manufactured wood furniture, carpet, printers and more
  • Off gassing from clothing, fragrances and personal products
  • Insect or vermin droppings 
  • Mold and mildew
  • EMFs from small appliances like microwaves
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Ventilation issues

The good news is that there are ways to avoid sick building syndrome, and while many of them are reserved as actions for landlords and building owners, some of them we can do at our desks! If you own a building you suspect of making people sick, take care to use proper ventilation, remove and replace water stained carpet, upholstery and ceiling tiles, aim to use materials that do not off gas as much, and educate yourself as well as possible to help prevent sick building syndrome in your space. Changing out your air filters regularly with HEPA filters can be very effective as well! 

If you're an employee in a sick building, be sure to bring the problem to the attention of someone who can make changes, but you can also consider bringing in a small air purifier for your office and adding plants to your desk and office space that can help to absorb harmful VOCs. Check out our favorite options

Generally the symptoms of sick building syndrome are relieved when you leave the building, but if you leave one place and head to another polluted place, you're not doing much good! So work to make your home as holistic and green as possible to give yourself a safe place to rejuvenate and heal from a long day at the office!

by Anjie Cho