Saturday, September 10, 2016

National Indoor Plant Week September 18-24

Longwood Gardens displays houseplants with other seasonal plant in the conservatory

The third week in September has been designated National Indoor Plant Week. One of my favorite groups, Green Plants for Green Buildings , has long recognized the benefits of plants in the home, workplace and in classrooms and study halls. The information on their website is very detailed about the advantages of having plants in our interior spaces. According to a study done by Dr. B. C. Wolverton for NASA and later by Dr. Margaret Burchett and Dr. Ron Wood, common indoor houseplants can remove volatile organic compounds (VCO) like benzene, formaldehyde and other pollutants commonly found in interior spaces.  

This book is a go-to for finding our which VOCs can be reduced indoors
Dr, Wolverton's book, How to Grow Fresh Air, profiles 50 houseplants that purify homes and offices. A Baltimore company, Furbish, creates interior living green walls they call Biowalls that enhance the interior work space while delivering on the promise of cleaner air. Other wholesale greenhouses and "green" businesses have worked with architects and planners to incorporate green wall technology into new and revitalized buildings and interiorscapes. The largest interior green wall in the country is located just an hour and a half away. Longwood Gardens installed a phenomenal green wall in their restroom area connected to the lovely conservatory in Kennett Square, PA.
Longwood's living wall is fourteen feet high and three hundred feet long!
In our own homes, plants also play a vital role. Houseplants make us feel good, inspire creativity, relieve our stress and give us something to nurture. Plants can provide a beautiful form of shade too, by blocking some light from a sunny window. What a great, natural way to make our lives more comfortable.

Following is a list of  houseplants, some featured in Dr. Wolverton's book and available in our greenhouse now and most of the year.

Bromeliads are a group of plants that include the very colorful Guzmania, Neoregelia, Vriesea , Aechmea and Tillandsia varieties. Known for the cup-like centers, the 'flowers' (bracts) last for months before the plant sends out attached offsets or 'pups'. Bromeliads need very little water as they have tiny roots that attach themselves to trees in their native habitat.

Guzmanias and one Vriesea

Assorted Tillandsias are suitable for framing

Boston Fern, Nephrolepsis exalta, is best grown in a hanging basket or placed on a plant stand. The Boston fern is a graceful addition to the home interior. Provide plenty of water and humidity, being careful not to let the root ball get too soggy. Provide moderate sunlight. Ferns grow well in temperatures ranging from 65-75 F, and up to ten degrees cooler at night.
Boston Ferns are a covered porch's staple
Bird's Nest Ferns Asplenium nidus are one of the easier-to-care-for varieties
Peace Lily Spathiphyllum is a houseplant favorite. It features lush, dark green foliage with bright white spathes. The Peace Lily has a high transpiration rate and will thrive with regular watering. This plant does well in lower light areas.

Peace lilies are easy to grow, as long as they are regularly checked for water
The Snake Plant Sansievera is a perfect choice for someone new to houseplants. Snake plants are durable; they tolerate low light to full sun and are drought tolerant.
Great houseplant for beginners or a college dorm
White Bird of Paradise Strelitzia nicolai has become the go-to plant for interior designers, replacing Ficus lyrata as the favored large-leaved tropical.  The large gray-green leaves add an architectural flair to larger indoor spaces. It's easy to care for, requiring moderate light,  and plenty of space for the large leaves that can reach 5 feet in length.
White Bird of Paradise in our greenhouse

Gray-green leaves can be five feet long!

Strelitzia reginea is the more recognizable of the Bird of Paradise varieties

Scores of other houseplants, in pots ranging form 2 inches to 14 inches in diameter are on display in our greenhouse. Take a plant home today and enjoy all the healthy benefits houseplants have to offer.