House Plants | Decorate + Detox


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I grew up in a house full of plants. My Dad has the greenest thumb around, so things just flourished in our household. When Tyler and I bought our house, we focused all of our planting and "green" skills on our landscaping. It takes some diligence to get new plants firmly rooted in Indiana, so all of our focus remained outside. Hardly any plants made their way indoors except for a little jade I inherited from Mom and Dad and Mr. Staghorn that I brought home from California last spring.

I love plants in the house. They help purify the air and instantly make a house feel like a home. In fact, plants remove up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. They help you breathe easier, improve health, and sharpen focus. A study at The Royal College of Agriculture in Circencester, England, found that students demonstrate 70 percent greater attentiveness when taught in rooms containing plants. In the same study, attendance was also higher for lectures given in classrooms with plants. Interesting, huh?


Photo via sfgirlbybay

There are several options for indoor plants, but it's important to understand the light and water requirements of each in order to keep them looking oh so green. I wanted a plant for our north facing bedroom, so I opted for a snake plant.


Snake plants are virtually impossible to kill. They need minimal light (I think the tag actually said just enough light to read by) and some water once the first 1-2" of soil feeds dry. These are great for those north facing rooms of the house or any area that doesn't receive much direct sunlight - bathrooms are great, too. This plant is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues, rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags.

I also wanted a plant in the kitchen which has south and east facing windows - aka lot's of sunshine!


For the life of me, I can't remember the exact name of this guy, but he's some sort of palm. I just liked how clean and modern he looked. :) Palms are great for filtering out both benzene and trichloroethylene, which can be introduced to indoor air through lacquers, varnishes, gasoline, man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paints.

As for the hanging plants, I debated on the perfect location for quite some time but ultimately decided to incorporate them in our living room gallery wall. I've always felt like the gallery wall needed to be more profound since we have such a large space, and the plants felt like the perfect fit. Staghorn ferns and air plants like good quality light, but long periods of direct sunlight can fry them. Our gallery wall is east facing so it gets some good morning and early afternoon light, but the wall is plenty far away to prevent scorching them.


So how many plants do you need? Well the recommendations vary based on your needs and goals, but according to Bayer Advanced,

  • To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet. In office or classroom settings, position plants so each person has greenery in view.

  • To purify air, use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots for an 1,800 square-foot house. That's roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller pots (4- to 5-inch).

It looks like I'm going to have to bring a few more plants home! Tyler's going to be so excited. :)