Greenery can liven up any personal space

Anthony Capps

Diet and exercise aren’t the only ways to watch your health. For an extra boost, try using a few houseplants to clean up the air you’re breathing.

“Plants can take out a big portion of [air pollutants],” said Richard Gladon, associate professor of horticulture, “It really depends on the type of plant itself, but most can take a substantial amount.”

Planting flowers, vegetables and fruits can be beneficial, but it takes time and some background information to know the best plants for your environment, especially if you have no previous experience.

“There are certain species that have a higher rate of pollutants as well as raising oxygen levels in the indoor environment,” said Ed Moran, agriculture specialist for Reiman Gardens.

Sarah Rummery, agriculture specialist for Reiman Gardens, said greenery can also be useful in the workplace.

“Plants can act as noise buffers between cubicles or around the lobby,” she said.

Gladon said plants are very important in the workplace.

“Psychologically, it’s better for the employees and certain plants will scrub and purify the air,” he said.

“NASA is testing this out right now through experiments on the International Space Station.”

Moran said sunlight is important to take into consideration. In Iowa, especially in the winter months, it’s best to have plants that tolerate little to no sunlight since days are short.

“South locations have more sunlight than the North, so plants that tolerate less light levels are better suited in the North,” he said.

“A cast iron plant is tough in low light. It can take many pollutants and is even used in some bars,” Moran said.

Rummery said cast iron plants [Aspidistra elatior] would be ideal in the residence halls since they don’t take up a lot of room.

Moran said ficus plants, which include fig plants and alma, are very adaptable to low light.

Rummery also suggested philodendrons, also known as the snake plant.

“[Philodendrons] don’t take up too much room if you want it on a desk or something,” she said.

Rummery said the Christmas Cactus is a popular choice since, as the name suggests, it blooms around the holidays.

Whatever plant you choose, Moran believes the plant will improve your health and your life.

“To be able to be in the presence of the environment, it has a calming effect to it and allows you to lower stress levels and connect with the outdoors,” Moran said.