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Gardening with Laurie: Plants help purify air in home

March 7, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 6, 2013 at 9:07 p.m.

Laurie Garretson

BENEFICIAL HOUSE PLANTS

• Aloe plant

• Spider plant

• Boston fern

• Pothos ivy

• Snake plant

• Peace lily

• Corn plant

• Rubber plant

• Ficus alii

By Laurie Garretson I know gardeners are interested in having healthy plants growing in our landscapes. But I wonder how many gardeners realize just how beneficial it is to have healthy indoor plants as well. People usually are unaware of all the benefits indoor plants can provide. I don't believe that nature ever meant for us to hide away from her in air-tight structures.

Any indoor grown plant is able to help purify the air in your home to some degree. But some plants are more beneficial than others. Many indoor plants are able to remove up to 90 percent of carcinogenic chemicals that are used in manufacturing different synthetic materials commonly found in our homes.

The three main household toxins are benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. None of these sound like anything I'd like to be breathing.

Growing healthy indoor plants just might help to decrease your risk of allergies, cancers, asthma and other diseases to some degree.

This is a good time of the year to check on all those indoor container plants, as well as those container plants that might have been spending the cooler months in the house. Some of these plants might be ready to be repotted.

Take a good look at each container and look for a solid mass of roots on the surface and for roots growing out of the drainage holes. Next, make sure that the soil is moist enough for you to turn the pot over without having all the soil fall out. You'll need to pull the entire root ball out of the container to be able to see exactly what's going on with the plant.

If you find a solid mass of roots, then you'll need to make a decision. Repot or not to repot? As long as the plant is looking good and you're wanting it to stay at about the size it is now then leave it alone. When you do start seeing yellowing leaves and not much new growth coming out, it will be best to repot this plant. Root-bound plants will need to be watered more often and fertilized once a month.

Any other container plants that you do want to grow larger will need to be repotted once you notice them getting root-bound.

Do not be too anxious to move tender indoor plants outdoors just yet. We could still have one or two more cold nights ahead of us.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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