Green Warriors: The Top 5 Houseplants for Your Home

How Houseplants Can Contribute to an Environment Helpful in Fighting Cancer

As part of cancer treatment and prevention, every aspect of our environment plays a vital role in supporting health and wellbeing. Houseplants have proven surprisingly helpful! Although they don’t directly combat cancer directly, houseplants help create a healthier indoor atmosphere which is key when facing cancer head on.

In this article, we explore how nurturing green spaces at home with certain houseplants can improve air quality, decrease stress and create a soothing healing atmosphere — illustrating how these green warriors contribute holistically to healthcare.

Houseplants Are Key Components in Promoting a Healthier Home Environment

If you’re like the majority of Americans, you spend 90 percent of your time indoors, where concentrations of pollutants may be (yikes!) two to five times GREATER than in outdoor air environments (source: EPA).

Plants use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide exhaled from humans into fresh oxygen, while at the same time filtering out any potentially toxic airborne pollutants from our atmosphere. One NASA experiment conducted in 1989 demonstrated how indoor plants clean the air of cancer-causing volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde and benzene; NASA researchers at that time were looking for ways to detoxify space station environments effectively. Subsequent research has also indicated that soil microorganisms within potted plants contribute towards cleaning indoor air!

Houseplants’ air-purifying capabilities are particularly significant for cancer patients. By decreasing levels of toxic agents present, houseplants create an atmosphere more suitable for healing and recovery. Houseplants provide another layer of defense for cancer patients by filtering air pollutants that exacerbate environmental sensitivity, providing relief and creating an atmosphere conducive to overall wellbeing.

Houseplants not only purify the air, they also contribute to an ideal indoor humidity level by emitting water vapor during transpiration. This feature is especially helpful during dry climates or winter months when heating systems dry out the atmosphere too much — keeping respiratory systems moist and thus more resistant to pathogens — an added advantage for those with compromised immune systems.

Nature’s Air Purifiers

Here are our Top 5 plant suggestions for improving the indoor air quality of your home:

#1 Spider Plant. The Spider Plant is not only easy to care for but also safe for pets and effective at purifying the air from harmful toxins like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene, commonly present in household items. It typically thrives on just a weekly watering. If the plant’s tips turn dry and crispy, it’s a sign it needs water. Dark brown tips indicate overwatering.

#2 Peace Lilies. One of the plants involved in the 1989 NASA experiment referenced above, this plant can eliminate harmful pollutants like ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from indoor environments. Peace Lilies do well in low light situations — ideal for use indoors. Their beautiful white blooms are a bonus!

#3 Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera has long been recognized by gardeners everywhere as an effective remedy for burns. Now supported by scientific research such as that conducted by the National Institutes of Health, evidence suggests Aloe Vera can aid in healing both 1st and 2nd degree burns – reason alone for keeping this plant nearby! Aloe Vera is also making a name for itself as a natural air purifier, absorbing dangerous pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene from indoor air while asking only for bright indirect sunlight and minimal watering in return.

#4 Snake Plant. Despite its less-than-flattering nicknames like “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue” and “Devil’s Tongue,” the Snake Plant deserves a second glance for its remarkable air-purifying qualities. Easy to care for and tolerant of neglect, it’s the perfect low-maintenance plant. Even more impressive is its ability to cleanse the air of formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants.

#5 Boston Fern. In addition to eliminating formaldehyde and xylene from the environment, this plan also serves as a natural humidifier and requires minimal care. The Boston Fern likes indirect sunlight or a slightly shaded spot within your home. You’ll know if the light is too low or if it needs more water when you see its fronds begin to droop. Watering 2x weekly and misting in between waterings is usually the sweet spot for this plant.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Houseplants

Research is backing up what any gardener knows first-hand — working with plants has an unmistakable positive mental effect.

Numerous studies substantiate the theory that spending time with plants can reduce stress levels. According to one research paper published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, indoor gardening can alleviate both physiological and psychological stress levels. Participants engaging in transplanting indoor plants experienced reduced heart rates as they felt more at ease compared with computer tasks.

Caring for plants fosters both responsibility and achievement. Watching a plant flourish thanks to simple, hands-on care can provide an immense sense of pride, elevating mood and self-esteem. Cancer patients who garden and tend to plants often discover a much-needed sense of control in times when things can seem challenging or out of control.

Tips for Adding Houseplants to Your Home

Set yourself up for success!

Integrating houseplants into your living space and improving air quality is a fantastic way to enrich both spaces, and also provide proper air purification. Get to know your plant, and understand its needs. Selecting suitable plants and giving them adequate care are key in order to guarantee they thrive and continue purifying air efficiently. Here are some useful tips to get you started:

  • Assess the Lighting in Your Room. Does your houseplant prefer bright light or filtered light? Different plants require different amounts of natural lighting in your space. For low light areas, try Peace Lilies or Snake Plants. In brighter areas, Aloe Vera or Boston Ferns are excellent choices.
  • Consider Humidity and Temperature. Some plants, like Boston Ferns, thrive in humid environments like bathrooms. Furthermore, most indoor plants prefer temperatures between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit to thrive, meaning if you feel at ease in their presence so will they.
  • Watering Needs. Is your plant thirsty? Or does it prefer drier soil? Don’t make the rookie mistake of over-watering. Most plants prefer that you let the soil dry out completely before watering again. They don’t like standing in mucky water any more than you do. And get familiar with the watering schedule that your plant prefers. For example, Snake Plants require less frequent waterings than Boston Ferns.
  • Fertilizing. When does your plant need an extra boost? To maximize growth during spring and summer growth seasons (spring/summer), utilize a balanced water-soluble fertilizer. But don’t overfertilize! A little is good, but a lot is not. Overfertilizing your houseplant can cause your plant to wilt or even die. .
  • Potting and Drainage. When planting plants in pots, you’ll want to be sure to punch drainage holes in the bottom of your pot to avoid too much moisture accumulating at the bottom and leading to root rot. Repot your plants whenever their pots have become too small — typically every one to two years.

Don’t make owning and caring for these houseplants too hard. Find out what they like, give them a little love, and they’ll respond in spades. Houseplants provide so much more than aesthetic appeal; they’re a source of health and tranquility in the home — especially for those battling cancer. Their amazing purifying abilities and therapeutic presence make them essential partners on the journey toward better health.

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