How can plants be used to purify the air quality of your home? In collaboration with botanical styling duo Ro Co, we share why every indoor space needs a touch of green.


With the steady rise of environmental pollutants in the city, we have become increasingly aware of the impact of air quality on our health. But, while outdoor air pollution has been recognised as a major environmental risk, very little attention has been paid to the toxic contaminants we encounter in our homes and workplaces. In conversation with Rose and Caro of botanical styling team Ro Co, we explore how greenery can play a huge role in improving the quality of the air we breathe and provide some essential tips for finding the plant species for you.

Ro Co

“For those living in the city, green spaces are a lifeline, and indoor plants can serve as a gentle reminder of the natural world.”

INTRODUCING GREENERY

Like the city’s streets, our home environment is equally susceptible to sources of harmful pollutants that include dust, smoke and particles generated from everyday cooking and cleaning products. Working as an organic air filter, plants have the natural ability to remove pollutants from the air by converting toxins into nutrients that they then thrive on. Research has shown that particular species of plants are capable of removing up to 90% of volatile organic compounds within just 24 hours.

Alongside their air-purifying abilities, researchers have also shown that the introduction of greenery in urban spaces can provide significant and long-lasting improvements to our mental health. As Ro Co puts it, “for those living in the city, green spaces are a lifeline, and indoor plants can serve as a gentle reminder of the natural world, helping to give a sense of calm and wellbeing.”

CHOOSING YOUR SPECIES

“The first step”, explains Ro Co, “ is identifying the kind of plant you feel comfortable looking after”. For those happy to dedicate time to giving their plant a significant amount of attention, the duo suggests a leafy tropical plant such as a palm or a fiscus that will instantly enhance the aesthetic of a room while it cleans the air. Alternatively, if you want to begin with something seriously low maintenance, they suggest trying “a succulent such as a cactus or echeveria, or a hardier species of tropical plant such as the spider plant, snake plant or rubber plant.”

Below, we outline the most efficient air-purifying plant species along with unique horticultural advice. The following plants have been listed as the most effective in reducing levels of toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, ammonia and benzene. These chemicals are found in common household items like window cleaners, adhesives, paper bags, synthetic fabrics and plastics.

 

Spathiphyllum – The peace lily is a notoriously forgiving plant and will signal when they are dehydrated with a characteristic drooping of the leaves. Unless the leaves have drooped, water your peace lily once a week and spritz the leaves during the summer months.  These plants thrive in consistent temperatures so avoid placing them near windows or drafts.

Hedera helix – Another easy-care plant, the English ivy is a commonly grown indoor plant. This plant will do well under bright, but not direct sunlight. if its variegated leaves turn mostly green, this is a sign that the plant isn’t getting enough light. Try to keep the soil evenly moist except for in the winter months when it can benefit from being a little drier.

Ro Co

It’s amazing how much impact just a little burst of greenery can make in a big space.

Chrysanthemum morifolium– In flower for around six to eight weeks, these plants are often treated as annual and moved outdoors after the blooming season is over. These plants enjoy bright light and evenly moist soil. Make sure to keep your chrysanthemum’s in a cool place (under 18°C) as the flowers won’t last long in the warmth.

Sansevieria – The snake plant is a wonderfully straightforward plant to look after. Simply place the plant in direct sunlight and don’t water them too much- particularly during the winter months.

Liliaceae – The dracaena thrives in mid light but can also survive in low light conditions. Taking up to three weeks for the soil to dry out in low level conditions it is important not to over-water these plants. Brown tips on the ends of the leaves are a sign of over-watering or an excess of fluoride in the water. If this is the case, try watering your plants using filtered water.

START YOUR NURSERY

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BIOGRAPHY

Rose and Caro are botanical stylists and indoor plant specialists based in London, UK. The duo seeks to transform urban spaces by installing exotic low maintenance greenery. So far, their clients have included London Design Fair, M&C Saatchi and WGSN and in 2016 they published their debut book ‘House of Plants‘ which acts a modern guide to introducing greenery to the home.