INTERIOR PLANTS IMPROVING AIR QUALITY

It is sprawling, and not at a particularly slow pace. Like ‘the blob’ it is spreading and developing and it has reached suburbia. Growth over the past 10 years of the Metropolitan Atlanta Area has reached our county and changed the face of our streets and neighborhoods. Smyrna is now considered Smyrma-Vinings. Marietta is now considered a convenient commute to downtown Atlanta. Atlanta is traveling Atlanta Road North and the evidence can be seen everywhere. It brings with it more business, convenience, upgrades and neighborhoods. On the other side of the coin we see more traffic, pollutants and loss of trees. If you are one of the many that make the drive to downtown Atlanta, you will see the city long before you reach Fulton County. Each morning, included along with the weather conditions, we receive a smog rating. And this year, due to the extended drought and wildfires in southern Georgia, we encountered additional headaches for those with breathing problems. We all know that plants produce oxygen and remove pollutants from our air. Add some shrubbery or trees to your yard. Any additional plants will enhance the outdoor environment esthetically and improve air quality. Equally important is the air quality inside your home. NASA studies determined that indoor plants in a closed, controlled environment, through their foliage and roots, removed low level pollutants. Through photosyntheses and evapotranspiration (a natural plant process) air is filtered through the plant, cleaned, cooled and released back into the environment. “But how many plants and what kind do I need?” you may ask. NASA studies suggested the use of 15-18 plants (at least 6”-8” diameter pots-table top size) will improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot home. Floor plants of 3’ or more (10”+ diameter pots) will increase these positive effects on your inside environment. Interior plants are not as hard to maintain as you may think. Only a few minutes each week will satisfy your plant requirements. It is suggested you check and water your plants weekly, if needed. Your most important tool is your finger. It is through touching the soil that you will determine water needs. All plants do not need water weekly but should be checked and rotated to maintain their shape. Simply stick your finger into the soil to test and add water, if necessary. Most plants like to stay uniformly moist. This means when your finger goes into the soil, it is moist to the touch some soil sticks to your finger. Some plants like to ‘dry out’ in between watering. Again, check the soil and let common sense be your guide. If you are under watering or over watering, the plant will let you know by yellowing or wilting. Most plants will forgive your mistakes as you develop and adjust your techniques. Interior plants do require fertilizer (Peters or Miracle Gro) from spring until winter. An easy rule to follow is to begin fertilization after Easter and suspend use at Thanksgiving. Professionals prefer to add fertilizer a little each time the plants are watered as opposed to a full dose once per month.

Tropical plants are unable to survive temperature extremes. but the process is slow. This buying power makes the plants more affordable to the public. It is recommended you purchase plants the size you would like and maintain them well. indirect sun for the remainder of the day. HIGH LIGHT HOUSE PLANT FICUS ‘Ficus lyrata’ This is only one variety of the Ficus family. Take care to check this plant and water weekly if needed. . These ‘tried and true’ species are just a sample of the many plants that are available in the interiorscape market. they will grow. you may note a term of acclimation as your plants adjust to your interior environment.Interior plants rarely require repotting. However. It is also important to note that many retailers purchase large quantities of plants at a discounted rate. will cause damage or death of the plant. HIGH LIGHT PLANT ENGLISH IVY ‘Hedera Helix’ This plant is usually used as a desk top or table top plant and should be placed where it will receive some direct sun or very bright indirect sun for much of the day. This means they have been developed quickly under the tropical sun of a Florida field. Temperature extremes and air movement are important. In some cases. Ficus Amstel King and the familiar Ficus Benjamina. Be sure to check this plant weekly as it has an extensive root system and does not like to dry out completely. Transporting an interior plant in the back of a truck for example. excessive wind and other environmental factors. Others include Ficus Alii. rather than buy smaller plants and wait for them to grow into your space. When purchasing a plant it is necessary for the plant to be transported to its new home carefully. It is susceptible to spider mites and should be inspected and treated if an outbreak occurs. Listed below are just a few plants frequently used by professional interiorscapers. Many of these are ‘sun grown’. These plants require direct sun for at least part of the day and bright. and a perfect environment. This may include yellow leaves and dropping of leaves. After a few weeks this adjustment should decrease and eventually stop.

It is a hearty and durable plant. it is worth the sacrifice. preventative spraying for spider mites will help it maintain a deep green color and help eliminate brown tips. One treat you can enjoy is cutting a leaf now and again for a contemporary flower vase. placed in soil and soon you will have another plant to share with a friend. The Areca requires direct sun for part of the day and bright conditions throughout the daylight hours. It should be checked weekly and likes to dry between watering. the variegated (shown left) and the solid green. This indicates good. indirect light for most of the day. Although this plant requires a little space. As with any palm. MEDIUM LIGHT PLANT SPIDER PLANT ‘Chlorophytum comosum’ This familiar plant can often be seen hanging in front of a bright kitchen window. It is happy with bright. This plant should be checked weekly and watered as needed. . indirect light.MEDIUM LIGHT PLANT SPLIT LEAF PHILODENDRON ‘Philodendron scandens’ Most Philodendron varieties can take moderate light. The ‘spiders’ seen shooting out of the foliage can be removed. HIGH LIGHT PLANT ARECA PALM ‘Chrysalidocarpus lutescens’ This elegant palm is frequently used to ‘frame’ a dining room or entranceway. There are two well-known varieties. This plant likes to dry out in between watering.

Of course.MEDIUM TO LOW LIGHT PLANT DRAGON TREE ‘Dracanea marginata’ The Marginata is a member of the Dracanea family which includes the Corn Plant. It has also become popular in Georgia landscapes where it is evergreen and can create a wonderful border for your shade perennials. Removing some of the lower foliage can give this plant a contemporary look. LOW LIGHT PLANT JANET CRAIG ‘Dracanea deremensis’ This plant is great for low light. Too much water will cause the tips of the leaves to brown. the leaves may be trimmed to a natural shape. the Aspidistra is making a come-back. If this occurs. and with minimal care and water. it will perform well in your home. It is almost a no worry choice. Try not to over water this plant. LOW LIGHT PLANT CAST IRON PLANT ‘Aspidistra elaior’ Previously recognized as something from your grandmother’s house. but regular lighting without windows will maintain this plant. Janet Craig and a host of ‘tried and true’ interior plants. Check it weekly and water only if needed. It requires some indirect light or interior lighting for most of the day to perform well. all plants need some light. .

this is the plant for you. MEDIUM TO LOW LIGHT PLANT KENTIA PALM ‘Howea forsterana’ This elegant palm is a great addition to any décor. It requires little water and could go several weeks between drinks. but does bloom occasionally. This one is forgiving and will droop should you forget to water it. Just be sure to leave the shades up during the day or provide artificial light for 8 hours. check it once per week and keep it on the dry side.LOW LIGHT PLANT SNAKE PLANT ‘Sansevieria trifasciata’ If you want plants that can stay in minimal light and require minimal attention. this is an old favorite making a come back. . Its upright growing habit affords you the ability to use it in narrow spaces and extremely low light conditions. It is one of he few palms that does not require direct sunlight. In the appropriate container it provides a very high-style look. broad foliage and white. It is primarily a foliage plant. As for plant maintenance. A good drink and usually it will return to its previous upright position. LOW LIGHT PLANT PEACE LILY ‘Spathyphillum ’ The Peace Lily is known for its deep green. Again. The Kentia can maintain its beauty under interior light levels. lily like flowers. This plant can take low light conditions with no natural light and minimal interior light.

Suite 200 Marietta.Don’t be afraid to add a few plants just because you may think you are not ‘good with plants’.cobbextension. They actually enjoy some neglect as opposed to over-tending. Emily Harper Program Assistant Cobb Extension Information Source & Photo Credits: horticulture. but you will find they enhance your décor and improve your mood.edu Website: www. GA 30060-3105 Phone: 770-528-4070 Fax: 770 528-4086 Email: uge1067@uga.edu Cobb County Cooperative Extension Service 678 South Cobb Drive. Not only will the air inside your home be better.tamu.com The contents and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia .