It’s no secret that indoor plants are all the rage these days, filling up Instagram accounts and flooding Facebook with dedicated groups and pages.
The main responsible for this green thumbs explosion might very well be the lockdown the world went through last Spring, when many were forced to spend way more time at home, picking up new hobbies and discovering that a little green can indeed provide extra relaxation and contribute to a calmer, more pleasant environment.
However, some of the cultivars we grow in our homes are just seen as ornaments,
forgetting that they are living, breathing creatures that require specific light and humidity conditions to really thrive.
When plants die out on us, we tend to get mad and just throw them away, oblivious to the fact that we can’t just expect flowers and beautiful leaves to appear because well, we want so.
A little research can really help with understanding our green friends and their needs but what is even more surprising is what they will give us in return: aesthetic betterment, mood improvement, lower stress levels and cleaner air.
If all of this sounds too hippie for your educated ears, you might be more inclined to listen to those extra serious people at NASA.
What’s even more alluring is that besides living holistically within your very own home jungle and getting all the benefits that this approach can provide, the best plants to clean the air we breathe all day are black thumbs proof. Thanks Mother Nature!
Sansevieria aka Snake Plant aka Mother in law’s tongue
While the name doesn’t sound too promising and reassuring, Sansevierias have been shown to be fantastic allies if placed to live on our bed stands.
Why? Not only do they remove nasty toxins (benzene, xylene, formaldehyde) from the air, but they really work their magic at night, when they absorb carbon dioxide (the same CO2 responsible for climate change) and convert it in oxygen to be released while you’re sleeping and breathing deeply.
What do they want in return? Minimal care is required as they do not like direct sunlight and can rot when overwatered so you can basically forget they exist and feed them on a monthly basis. But remind yourself to say thanks when you go to sleep!
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia aka ZZ Plant
ZZ plants are among the most resilient plants we can host in our homes as they can tolerate low lighting settings as well as brighter locations and don’t require a very specific watering calendar because their rhizomes store the water they need allowing them to survive to long draughts.
ZZ plants are the perfect match for the most inexperienced gardeners as they remove xylene, toluene and benzene from the air and can be completely ignored and placed in each corner of the house.
Their dark green leaves are just a joy to be looked at and their resistance can truly lift up the spirits of all the black thumbs out there.
Pothos aka neverending propagation plant
This trailing vine can grow so long it's honestly ridiculous and it’s a welcome addition to any room of your house as it can be put in big pots, tiny cups, water filled jars, hanging baskets, repurposed cans… you name it.
Pothos can be propagated forever (prune a 4 inches stem below a node and place in water), don’t need any care at all (water when the three top inches have dried out) and perform well in all conditions.
Pothos is an immortal beast that will endure any kind of mistreatment and will continue to grow and purify the air in your house getting rid of carbon monoxide, benzene and formaldehyde.
As an added benefit, Pothos creates humidity around it which can be extremely important during the colder months when the heating systems are on and air gets drier favouring the spread of viruses and sore throats.
It’s also perfect for offices and cubicles as they tolerate low light settings and will always forgive your forgetfulness.
Chlorophytum comosum aka Spider Plant
Spider Plant is another species that keeps on giving and as others mentioned before can remove dangerous pollutants from the air with the extra special perk of being able to absorb ozone and nitrogen dioxide while releasing oxygen. Yay, lungs! Its long, luscious leaves are most indicated for those who are looking for an immediate tropical vibe but aren’t ready to experiment with more difficult plants.
Spider Plants can be neglected and do well in all lighting conditions except for direct sunlight and once ready they will make babies (spiderettes) that enhance their beauty and can be transferred in new pots when ready to leave their mamas.
Spathiphyllum aka Peace Lily
This tropical is not only one the most elegant plants you could ever grow in your house, but is a champion when it comes to removing trichloroethylene from the air. What’s that? It’s a chemical present in paint, glue and lacquer so basically what your furniture is covered in.
It can also eliminate ammonia and airborne mould, a major contributor to asthma and allergies. Peace Lilies do well in lower lighting locations and, because they are such divas, you’ll unequivocally know when it’s time to water them as they’ll dramatically lower their dark green leaves and pretend to be dying.
If kept moist (not damp) they’ll avoid the drama and contribute to your well being.
Taking care of a plant can be a rewarding journey and a powerful reminder of what Nature can do for us when we just pause a minute and reflect upon the fact that all living creatures belong to this most amazing eco-system called Earth.
Living in an urban jungle can conspicuously increase our physical and mental health while transforming even the tiniest flat in a home worth going back to.
Ready to paint that black thumb of yours with a nice coat of green?