Deb Babcock: Plants will filter the air in your home or office

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Deb Babcock

Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.

Find more gardening columns here.

— Feng shui is a popular and very old Chinese concept of being in harmony with your environment. It’s the art of placing things in your room so that you maximize the positive energy or feelings you desire while being in that room.

When it comes to your home, office or studio, feng shui means placing your furniture, plants, colors, etc., so you gain a positive energy flow. Directionally, it means that a desk facing south is preferable if your goal is fame, fortune, sincerity, a good reputation and success. For knowledge and scholarly success, a northeastern orientation is best. (This, of course, is not a research-based science.)

Indoor plants in your environment can add to this positive energy flow in a number of ways. They add a touch of elegance and élan to your rooms by brightening the space and making the environment more welcoming to visitors as well as to yourself.

In fact, some research at NASA has found that indoor plants will benefit you more than just from enjoying their beauty. They filter the air. Those fumes from carpet, copier fluids and cleaning supplies can cause allergic reactions as well as general lethargy. The good news from the space center study is that potted plants effectively can remove toxic gases from the air.

Which potted plants work well in our rooms? For low-light areas, consider such foliage plants as philodendron “Burgundy”, cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), Ti plant (Cordyline terminalis), Rex begonia (Begonia x rex-cultorum) or dumbcane (Dieffenbachia maculata). If your space has bright light, consider the Sago palm (Cycas revoluta), Dracaena marginata “tricolor,” rubber plant (Ficus elastica “decora”) or fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). For great ideas about which plants will work well in your environment, check with the staff at the garden center or florist shop.

You also might consider flowering plants or even fresh flower displays for a touch of color. Two vases stocked with a few stems can be used as bookends, or a pencil holder filled with flowers will make a colorful paperweight.

Flowering plants that work well in most any environment include African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha), Peace lily (Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”), cape primrose (Streptocarpus x hybridus) and geraniums of all types (Pelargonium). If flowering plants don’t interest you, consider plants that sport variegated or colored foliage. This includes croton (Codiaeum variegatum pictum), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum “vittatum”), polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), or beefsteak plant (Iresine herbstii).

To maximize the filtering effect of live plants, it is suggested that you place one plant for every 100 square feet of room space.

Deb Babcock is a master gardener through the Routt County CSU Extension office. Call 970-879-0825 with questions.

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