Cleaner Air At Home

Many people are aware of the study that came out of NASA, a number of years ago, about the extraordinary ability of houseplants to clean the air by removing "volatile organic compounds" (VOCs) like formaldehyde and benzene.
The research demonstrated that many varieties of houseplants were capable of absorbing and detoxifying a wide range of VOCs. Some houseplants were a bit more efficient at absorbing specific VOCs than were others, but the take home message was that having lots of plants in ones home, would be a great way to reduce VOCs.
One interesting outcome of the research on air purifying plants is that the plants couldn’t take all the credit for helping to rid the ones home of VOCs. The potting soil, itself, played a large roll in VOC removal thanks to the millions of beneficial soil microbes – bacteria in particular - contained in each mixture. When the toxins were absorbed by the potting soil, bacteria would dine on the toxins and break them down into harmless compounds.
Plants like ferns, draecena, spider plants, and even poinsettias, all do their part to clean the air but they do it in conjunction with good quality potting soil that harbours a healthy population of microbes.
At home, next to my kitchen window, I have my Meyer’s lemon tree sitting in a large pot with Boston ferns adorning the soil beneath. I can’t say that I’ve ever measured the VOCs in my kitchen but I know the lemon, ferns and soil are doing their part to keep my air just a bit cleaner.
 But to be honest, I didn’t place the lemon/fern combo in my kitchen to combat VOCs. I put it there for its beauty and the joy of watching a tiny green lemon slowly grow into a gorgeous yellow fruit.
The fact that the plants and soil are also VOC fighters is just icing on the lemon cake.

~Jim Hole