SAGE Advice: Plants to purify your office or dorm

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An office or dorm room may seem like an inhospitable place for plants. There is potential for inconsistent care, lack of abundant natural light, and people frequently leave for breaks or vacations, leaving their plants behind.

However, indoor spaces can greatly benefit from greenery - and not just by enhancing aesthetics and reducing occupant stress. NASA conducted a study showing that reduced air circulation in enclosed indoor spaces causes the accumulation of low levels of chemicals emitted by synthetic materials. This results in “Sick Building Syndrome,” where toxins become concentrated inside buildings, reducing indoor air quality and affecting occupant health. Many plants can counteract this effect dramatically. Here’s a list of some manageable plants that filter the air, and hardy plants that can survive no matter what.


Plants that reduce indoor pollution:

  • Feston rose plant: low maintenance and low water, high tolerance of salt and high heat, plus gorgeous flowers in a huge range of colors.
  • Devil’s ivy: keep it on a top shelf so it can climb down, soak it when the soil dries out, and don’t eat it.
  • Phalaenopsis: has lovely white and pink flowers; can’t tolerate direct sunlight or over-watering.
  • African violets: easy to maintain and thrives in moderate light and temperature.
  • Chrysanthemums: a little fussier, needing daily watering, a lot of natural light, and trimming, mums are extremely effective in reducing indoor pollution.
  • Other plants that reduce indoor air pollution include the Peace Lily and Garlic vine (don’t worry, it only smells like garlic when it’s been thoroughly crushed!).

Super low maintenance plants:

  • Cactus: come in incredible variety and usually need only tiny amounts of water and care.
  • ZZ, Zamioculcas Zamiifolia: hearty with sturdy green leaves, ZZ handles low light, low water use, neglect, and is tough indoors.
  • Snake Plants: long upright leaves with striped patterns, should be watered infrequently and can withstand low light.
  • Wandering Jew: preferring warm temperatures, direct sunlight, and somewhat frequent watering; this plant can be grown from just a cutting set in water. Its leaves have a striking pattern and are great to hang in a window.

- Madelyn Freed

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This page contains a single entry by Colleen Lanier Christensen published on March 11, 2011 4:48 PM.

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