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Home Makeover Tip

Add House Plants to Your Home Makeover Plan
By Jeanette Joy Fisher

Houseplants soothe the emotions because of their visual impact. Besides being naturally appealing, interior house plants filter your air naturally.

Natural air filters, house plants remove up to 70 percent of indoor air pollutants. Plants such as English Ivy, scheffleras, spider plants, and philodendrons absorb large quantities of formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and benzene.

The most effective plants at removing air pollution include spider plants, pot mums, snake plants, and aloe vera. These house plants remove so many pollutants that environmental scientists recommend one plant per 100 square feet in your home and office.

House Plant Benefits

Indoor plants make you feel cooler on hot days, especially when they move softly in the breeze from a ceiling fan.

Indoor plants connect you to nature. People who feel connected to nature feel happier.

Plants make great design statements. Highlight a houseplant to cast dramatic shadows on your walls and ceilings. Uplights, placed under palm trees cast magnificent line-type shadows, while plants with holes in their leaves, such as Swiss Cheese Philodendron, cast lace-like shadows.

You can use houseplants to make a uniquely individual statement. For instance, one of my friends has only spiked-leafed plants in her home -- spider plants, snake plants, corn plants, cast iron, and bromeliads. My cousin could only get Pothos to grow in her home, so she filled her entire house with the easy-to-grow Pothos.

Delicate houseplants soften your space, while spiky plants add interesting texture. Collections of African violets, ferns, or trees of all sizes look fantastic, too. Topiaries, shaped like globes or animals, add feelings of luxury and amusement, while Bonsai plants add a sense of richness to a home.

How to Keep Plants Healthy

Because some houses don't have adequate daylight for houseplants, the best method for keeping your houseplants healthy is to have two plants for each desired space. Keep one plant in a sheltered outside area and one in its decorative site, and switch the plants at least once a week. Special plant light bulbs help.

Low light plants include the cast iron plant, philodendrons, Pothos, Chinese evergreen, English Ivy, and Satin. Flowering plants, like begonias, impatiens, and fuchsias, require more light. Plants requiring considerable amounts of water generally have hair-like roots, such as ferns and coleus, while plants requiring less water have thicker roots, like spider plants and cactuses.

You can remember to fertilize your plants by doing it on the first of every month, except in cold winter. Adding fish emulsion in the middle of the month during spring will help feed hungry plants like ferns. My staghorn fern has thrived for 15 years on banana skins and an occasional misting of orchid food.


Flowering plants, like white flag or peace lilies, need water-soluble fertilizer with a 20-20 concentration. Apply "Plant Shine," a spray available in garden centers, once a month to clean and beautify leaves.

House plants take some effort to help them continue to thrive, but the benefits you'll derive from keeping house plants in your home will be well worth any inconvenience, and you'll be healthier and happier as a result.

Joy to you and your healthy, happy home!

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