Elsie writes: My mother is recovering from an illness and a friend told her it would be beneficial to have some “air cleaning plants” in the house. I am not familiar with these types of plants. Can you explain how they clean the air? In addition, can you recommend a few plant choices that I can plant in an attractive container? (The potted plant will receive some bright morning light from a nearby window.)
Here is a simplified explanation of how plants clean the air:
Air cleaning plants breathe in “dirty” air and trap pollutants within their structures. Then they exhale
oxygen-rich air in addition to keeping humidity at proper levels that aid in keeping allergies at bay. (A few examples of the pollutants in our homes are found in carpets, furniture, plastics and cleaning products.)
There are several beneficial plants that fall into this description and some are known to do a better job than others, plus being not so fussy about available light and water.
I have a feeling that you would prefer an air cleaning plant that is fairly easy to grow and adds a decorative feel to your mother's home. Here are two possibilities: 1) Corn plant, Dracaena fragrans, is an upright plant with corn-like leaves to 3 feet in length and 4 inches wide. It will tolerate lower light and only needs to be watered when the to 1-inch top of the soil is dry; 2) Spider plants, Chlorophytum comosum, are usually used indoors as hanging plants and are admired for their clumping, long, blade-like leaves that cascade into new offsets that form new plants. At one time this was a favorite houseplant that was seen in many homes. It is not particular about water but do water when the top inch of soil is dry. Beware of allowing any houseplant to sit in standing water, so empty the tray beneath the plant after watering.
Liz asks: Do you have a favorite rose that is fragrant and disease resistant?
I have many favorite roses, but one in particular is “Yves Piaget,” a deep pink hybrid tea, that is planted by the front walk, emits the most heavenly fragrance, has shiny leaves, is not too thorny and is disease resistant. The huge peony-like blooms keep their color during the hot summer temperatures and the blossoms have taken “a hit” just now with the extreme low temperatures.