Liveability Guides

Adding plants to your indoor areas can help contribute to a happier, healthier lifestyle. Research has shown that they can assist in purifying the indoor air of toxins including volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Healthy Home with Indoor Plants

Indoor plants can assist in purifying the air in your home

Indoor plants have been noted to purify and clear the air of toxins, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have various health impacts depending on the time and extent of exposure.

The 1989 NASA Clean Air Study tested common household plants and found that indoor plants can significantly filter the air of the VOCs benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, which are found in gasoline and household products like cleaning products, disinfectants and even cosmetics.

Studies by the University of Technology, Sydney have found that indoor plants reduce all types of urban air pollution and indoor air is always more polluted than outdoor air as more VOCs are emitted from plastics and synthetics in furniture, furnishings and computers.

It’s not surposing then that indoor plants have been proven to be so effective that many businesses have now taken this on board. In India, where pollution levels are high, the Paharpur Business Centre has hundreds of plants spread out over six floors after CEO Kamal Meattle was advised by doctors to leave the city due to growing health concerns that stemmed from the city’s air pollution. Meattle chose indoor plants as his remedy to purify the indoor air quality of his office building.

The health benefits of indoor plants are not restricted to air quality either, they can make us ‘feel’ better and work better too

“Environmental-psychologists and human ecologists agree that… where brief glimpses of living greenery in our immediate environment (eg. on desk or thereabouts) provide us with unconscious feelings of calm and a wider space, even if we don’t notice the plant presence… This momentarily relaxes us, resetting our ‘attention-button’, & preventing development of attention fatigue — so we work better — for longer — giving better performance — and we feel happier about it all too.”  University of Technology, Sydney

More recent research has also shown that indoor plants in office areas can make staff happier and boost productivity by 15%. This encouraging information can also be applied to your home as well… especially when you think of children studying for exams.

You may also like to consider repainting using low VOC paints.

Three low maintenance indoor plants to brighten your home

Adding plants to your indoor areas can help liven up the interior as well as contribute to a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Nurseries stock a wide range of indoor plants suitable for your climate. Check with your local nursery for the right plant for your home. Don’t forget to ask for advice on how to take care of the plant, how much light it requires and other tips to ensure that your plant will thrive in your rooms.

Spathiphyllum flowerHere are three indoor plants to help you get started:

1. Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)

Great for the whole house

The peace lily is one of the best air purifying plants. It has oval leaves and white flowers with a cupped white spathe that gradually fades from white to green or yellow. The flowers grow sporadically throughout the year. The peace lily tolerates a wide range of light conditions and is suitable for very low light areas.

iStock_000007007986Small2. Sansevieria trifasciata (Mother-in-law’s Tongue)

Great as a feature plant on the floor or table

A native to West Africa, the Mother-in-law’s Tongue has upright leaves that are edged on both sides marked with solid lines of yellow along the edges and green zigzag stripes in the centre. This plant thrives if you have a lot of light in your room as it can adapt to medium-high areas of light. It only needs moderate watering – even less in winter.

Remember to keep the Mother-in-law’s Tongue as a potted plant as it is considered as an environmental weed in Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, and as a “sleeper weed” in other parts of Australia. The Brisbane City Council considers the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue as a low priority pest species. If you feel like your potted Mother-in-law’s Tongue is getting crowded, you can repot it to a bigger plant container. Try following this tip from ABC Gardening Australia.

sansevieria trifasciata golden hahnii on white background3. Sansevieria hahnii (Bird’s Nest)

Great on the desk or windowsill

The Bird’s Nest is from the same family as the Mother-in-Law’s Tongue but is a more smaller and rounder variety. It grows in a rosette of broad, spirally arranged leaves. As it is a hard and robust plant, it’s perfect for the lazy indoor gardener. The Bird’s Nest is perfect in medium lights and mild temperatures.

Creative ways of displaying plants

Indoor plants don’t have to be limited to being displayed in pots. Macramé plant holders are an easy way to hang indoor plants around the home, especially in smaller spaces. Check out our DIY guide to macramé plant holders to get started on your own. You can even dye the string using coffee for a more rustic look.


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Louise De Mattia

Louise De Mattia

Louise is a passionate Liveability advocate with a Masters of Environmental Management. She is currently traveling in Europe with her friends and will be sending us posts as she goes.

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