My vocation as a houseplant manager met my love of science fiction when I learned about NASA’s research using houseplants to purify air in sealed environments. The original goal was life-support for moon bases (cool), but in the process the scientists found out that indoor plants can actually absorb toxins from the air and break them down into harmless by-products. Not only the chemicals released by practically every man-made material (carpets, clothing, cleaning products, computers, etc.), but also the “bio-effluents” that all humans emit.
(See “How To Grow Fresh Air ” by Dr. B.C. Wolverton.) Add these revelations to the facts I learned in school just before I hopped the wagon train to head out west from Fargo: plants give off oxygen, raise humidity and circulate the air as they live and photosynthesize, and it becomes clear that the philodendron on the table is a healthy- air-making machine!
I think houseplants just make a room more comfortable, less sterile, and give the eye and nose something natural to play on. Check out an article by Dr. Leonard Perry at University of Vermont Extension (www.uvm.edu/pss/ppp/articles/plantswork.html). He tells of studies showing that plants reduce stress, even reduce blood pressure, and increase productivity. Once, a school teacher told me that she always keeps plants in her classroom because she’d found they made the students less likely to cause disruptions and more able to concentrate. If a person gets interested in the many different types of indoor plants and how to grow them it can be a great hobby, and that’s good for something too.
My conclusions? Houseplants could improve indoor environments in homes, schools, stores, offices, hospitals, prisons, etc., especially in new and energy-efficient buildings. The more houseplants the merrier and healthier.