How To Grow Fresh Air: UPDATE

I already posted about my favorite book on this subject.   This is an update to that article.   The NASA study that listed 50 plants to clean your air has narrowed down the three best plants.  The winners are:

“The Living Room Plant”
Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

“The Bedroom Plant”
Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)

“The Specialist Plant”
Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum)

The following is an inspiring story from

“Researcher and activist Kamal Meattle shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air.

(Recorded at TED U 2009, February 2009, in Long Beach, California. Duration: 04:04.)

* * *

Areca Palm is too big for my small home, but the other two are small enough so I looked up how to propagate them.   I think this could be turned into an excellent science fair project for my young entrepreneur/scientist.

From the original list of 50 plants, I have a Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’) and a Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium).  I got them for free from friends.   Both these plants tolerate serious neglect and look great when given a little attention.

The following instructions on how to propagate a Sansevieria trifasciata is from

“…To grow a new Sans, it will be necessary to take a fully grown leaf and cut it into pieces about 3-6 inches long [8-15cm], keeping careful track as to which end was closer to the root. These should be placed in a warm airy location to heal for a few days. When planting the leaf-parts, use well draining succulent type soil, moistening it slightly. Several leaves can be put into each small pot, making sure to bury the root-end of the leaf. Planting them upside down is wasted effort as they will not root. Keep the pots out of full sun but in bright, indirect light until roots form. Kept at 70F [20C], roots should form in 4-6 weeks, depending on the species, lighting conditions, etc. Until roots form, water sparingly. When the first leaves emerge, they will not necessarily look like the parent plant. Some species of Sans have a juvenile form of leaf, with the mature form appearing later on the same plant.”

The following instructions on how to propagate a Epipremnum aureum is from

“…propagating a new plant, which with pothos is incredibly easy. I personally favor water-rooting, because my success rate with water is very nearly 100%, and with soil, I only get about 60% success because Pythium, or something else, gets them before they establish roots. Water may not be the best thing for the plant once it’s transplanted to soil, but they do at least all survive that way.”

Many years ago, I read the book, “How to Grow Fresh Air” by Dr. B. C. Wolverton.    I searched for the easy care plants from that list and got a cutting of a heart-shaped Philodendron from a friend.    She had hers growing in just water.    That looked so easy I tried it and have been growing them this way ever since.   I keep a cutting in a pretty vase on my desk.  When the vine grows long and gets in the way, I move the vine to a larger vase or a one-gallon jug.   I have them all over my house and water them a couple times a year.    When the leaves get pale or start to turn yellow, I add a pinch of plant food and they return to their dark green foliage.

If Epipremnum is as easy to grow as a Philodendron than I can’t think of anything easier to grow.  I have Philodendrons draped all over my home.  They are in pretty vases I found at the thrift store and glass one gallon jugs (apple cider from Sprouts Market).   A gallon jug is more convenient because it needs to be refilled less often.  I think I refill them once or twice a year.   The narrow bottle neck slows down the water evaporation looks prettier than wide neck vase for this vine.

Additional Resources


About Hemet Sunshine

I am a homeschooling mom living in Hemet, California. I am interested in building a better community for the ones I love.
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