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Create a Joyful Home with Living Accessories: Houseplants

Houseplants can be soothing because of their visual impact. Besides being naturally appealing, interior plants can make you feel cooler on hot days, especially when they move softly in the breeze from a ceiling fan.

Houseplants are natural air filters, and can remove up to 70 percent of indoor air pollutants. Plants such as English Ivy, scheffleras, spider plants, and philodendrons absorb large also quantities of formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and benzene. The most effective plants at removing air pollution are spider plants, pot mums, snake plants, and aloe vera. They're so effective, in fact, that environmental scientists recommend one plant per 100 square feet in your home and office.

Plant lights, in canister fixtures placed on the floor, can highlight a houseplant while casting dramatic shadows on walls and ceilings. Uplights, placed under palm trees cast magnificent line-type shadows, while plants with holes in their leaves, such as Swiss Cheese Philodendron, will cast lace-like shadows.

You can use houseplants to make a uniquely individual statement. For instance, one of my friends has only spiked-leafed plants in her home -- spider plants, snake plants, corn plants, cast iron, and bromeliads. My cousin could only seem to get pothos to grow in her home, so she filled her entire house with them.

Delicate houseplants soften your space, while spiky plants add interesting texture. Collections of African violets, ferns, or trees of all sizes can look fantastic, too. Topiaries, shaped like globes or animals, can add a feeling of luxury and amusement, while Bonsai plants will add a sense of richness to your home.

Keeping Plants Healthy

Because some houses don't have adequate daylight for houseplants, the best method for keeping your houseplants healthy is to have two plants for each desired space. Keep one plant in a sheltered outside area and one in its decorative site, and switch the plants at least once a week. Special plant light bulbs can also help.

Low light plants include the cast iron plant, philodendrons, pothos, Chinese evergreen, English Ivy, and Satin. Flowering plants, like begonias, impatiens, and fuchsias, require more light. Plants requiring considerable amounts of water generally have hair-like roots, such as ferns and coleus, while plants requiring less water have thicker roots, like spider plants and cactuses.

You can remember to fertilize your plants by doing it on the first of every month, except in cold winter. Adding fish emulsion in the middle of the month during spring will help feed hungry plants like ferns. My staghorn fern has thrived for 15 years on banana skins and an occasional misting of orchid food.

Flowering plants, like white flag or peace lilies, need water-soluble fertilizer with a 20-20 concentration. Applying Plant Shine, a spray available in garden centers, once a month will clean and beautify leaves.

They may take some effort to help them continue to thrive, but the benefits you'll derive from keeping houseplants in your home will be well worth any inconvenience, and you'll be healthier and happier as a result.

Joy to you and your healthy, happy home!

(c) Copyright 2004, Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.

Professor Jeanette Fisher, author of Doghouse to Dollhouse for Dollars, Joy to the Home, and other books teaches Real Estate Investing and Design Psychology. For more articles, tips, reports, newsletters, and sales flyer template, see http://www.doghousetodollhouse fordollars.com/pages/5/index.htm

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