How to Grow Fresh Air

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I've always been a fan of incorporating green houseplants into holistic spaces, as feng shui adjustments or just as a a way to brighten and liven up a room. As it turns out, there is actually science behind why we should all be aiming to bring a little nature into our spaces

In How to Grow Fresh Air, Dr. B. C. Wolverton goes in depth on how keeping certain plants indoors can help to alleviate some of the toxic materials we bring into our spaces on a regular basis. Wolverton gets pretty scientific, and his book is a fascinating read - I would definitely recommend it! In the meantime, we've cut out the basics for you. 

As we've discussed before, many of the items we bring into our households and workspaces can give off toxic gases, or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In fact, combined with our own respiratory process and the trend of sealing spaces tightly to conserve energy, these gases have contributed to the fact that indoor air is now one of the top five major health concerns according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Fortunately, the respiration processes of plants actually absorb and use these toxic chemicals and give off the fresh oxygen we need to survive. Plants use the chemicals that are dangerous to us in their processes of making food, so they pull these gases into their soil ecosystems and out of our way. They also create air flow where there is none, which can help to clean our air as well. In fact, adding plants to our spaces actually mimics the way nature cleans our external air. 

Plants have actually been shown to relieve stress and clean the environment and have a measurable positive effect on indoor spaces and their inhabitants. NASA even created a "biohome", sealed for top energy-efficiency and stocked with houseplants. In comparing this space to a similar home without houseplants, scientists found that the presence of plants significantly reduced VOCs in the atmosphere and symptoms of sick building syndrome in occupants.  

In the winter, plants can even heighten room humidity to combat dry air, which can lead to colds, viruses and more, and they give off certain chemicals that help to reduce the instance of mold spores and bacteria. There is actually a six to eight cubic foot area of space known as a "personal breathing zone," and adding plants within this space can significantly improve the quality of air we breathe in. 

Fifty plants have been studied so far to determine their effects on air quality and indoor spaces, so there is quite a variety of options for welcoming green into your home. We've mentioned some of these before, like the snake plant, the Golden pothos, orchids and more. The list in How to Grow Fresh Air also includes classics like English Ivy, indoor tree options such as the Ficus Alii and the Dwarf Date Palm, flowering plants like Florist's Mum and Wax Begonias and more! You should check out the full list for your space, but here are our top eight choices! 

6 Trees to Plant Indoors for Earth Day

Earth Day is Saturday, and as always, we're excited to celebrate the greatness that is our planet and express gratitude to the universe and Mother Earth for supporting us. One of the most popular ways to honor the Earth and help counter environmental damage is to plant trees. If you own your property or have a yard, planting a tree is easy. Just be sure to care for it after planting! If you're in a New York City apartment, planting a tree yourself may be a bit more difficult. In honor of Earth Day, you can donate to Trees for the Earth or the Canopy Project, or you can choose an indoor tree for your holistic space! We've got a few suggestions. 

Fiddle Leaf Fig

The Fiddle Leaf Fig is enjoying plenty of time in the spotlight right now and for good reason. They're easy to care for, bright and look fantastic in practically any space. The Fiddle Leaf Fig enjoys bright light, isn't so fond of drafts and needs water when its soil feels dry. It's also a good idea to keep an eye out for whiteflies or aphids! Our friends at The Sill have beautiful figs for delivery in NYC. 

Fishtail Palm

If you're craving a tropical touch, the Fishtail Palm is the perfect addition to your holistic space! These trees grow best in bright, indoor light and warmer temperatures (like the temp inside your home), which makes them ideal houseplants. Just be sure to keep a spray bottle nearby for misting, because these tropical trees need lots of humidity!

Madagascar Dragon Tree

The Madagascar Dragon tree gets extra points for being a well-known air-purifying plant. So not only does it brighten your space, it helps remove some of the harmful chemicals we bring into our homes. Like the Fishtail Palm, the Madagascar Dragon tree thrives in average home temperatures and enjoys bright, filtered light. You'll want to keep the soil slightly moist and keep pets away, since the Madagascar Dragon Tree is poisonous! 

Money Tree

This indoor plant gets extra points too, since it is associated with wealth and prosperity in feng shui! Take a look at your bagua and find your Abundance gua, then add your Money Tree to let the universe know you'd appreciate some prosperity! Keep your tree watered regularly, give it bright light and avoid placing it in the bathroom (as water can drain the wealth), the Relationships gua or the Knowledge gua. 

Norfolk Pine

The Norfolk Pine tree is another popular indoor tree with the flexibility to add nature and the Wood element to any room. Like most indoor plants, the Norfolk Pine just wants medium to bright light and water, enough to keep it moist but not soggy. Easy enough!

Rubber Tree

Add some glossy dark green to your space with a rubber tree. These trees grow quickly, especially with bright, filtered light, regular water and well-drained soil, so it may be necessary to repot your Rubber Tree on a yearly basis until it's the perfect size for your holistic space. It's also a good idea to slip your Rubber Tree some weak liquid fertilizer during growing season. 

There are so many more than six trees that make amazing additions to our indoor spaces, and adding a tree anywhere is a great way to thank Mother Earth for keeping us alive all these years! Not to mention, many trees, like other indoor plants, are excellent absorbers of excess carbon dioxide and harmful chemicals that start in our homes and often make their way outside. If you're looking for easy-to-love trees and all-star air purifiers, also check out the Parlor Palm, Ponytail Palm and the Dracaena anita. Then send us pics of your new Earth Day trees!

by Anjie Cho