Living plants can clean the air and fight indoor pollution by removing harmful gases from the air. This is achieved through photosynthesis. The plants absorb carbon dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, which are created by materials that give off gases. These materials include synthetic carpeting, fabrics, laminated counters and plastic coated wallpaper. It takes 15 to 18 plants that inhabit 6 to 8 inch containers to clean the air in an 1,800-square-foot space.
The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is a common houseplant that is easy to grow and tolerates neglect. This perennial plant forms clumps of narrow, strap-shaped leaves that are solid green or variegated with stripes of white or yellow. Spider plants grow 12 to 15 inches tall and thrive in nearly every growing condition. Roots of the spider plant have evolved to store water in underground bulb-like structures. These plants tolerate inconsistent watering.
Spider plants also produce 2-foot-long stems that grow small white, star-shaped flowers on the ends. After flowering, small plantlets grow on the stems. These spiderlings are planted to grow new spider plants. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings and feed with half strength fertilizer every 3 to 4 months. Spider plants suffer tip burning where the tips of the foliage turn brown. Burning is caused by low humidity, excessively dry soil, salt accumulation and chemicals in tap water. Use distilled water or rainwater to help stop tip burning.
Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) produce green and yellow heart-shaped leaves that grow 4 to 18 inches long. This houseplant flowers year round with white blooms. Golden pothos grows as tall as its growing support. This perennial has a high drought tolerance and a poor salt tolerance. It likes moist soil and requires regular watering. Prune back several times a year to help control the size of the plant.
Propagate by tip cuttings placed in water until roots form. Transplant the new plants into potting soil. Golden pothos is used in hanging baskets, as groundcover or as a climbing vine in frost-free areas.
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) has medium-green, oval leaves that tend to droop as they grow larger. This upright broadleaf plant thrives in low light growing 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Chinese evergreens produce white to green flowers. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) grows glossy green leaves on arching branches with smooth, light gray bark. This perennial is grown as a tree or a multi-stemmed bush. It requires bright light indoors. Direct sunlight in the winter is fine, but needs protection from strong sunlight during the summer. Water thoroughly by letting excess water to drain through the bottom of the container. Do not water unless the soil surface is dry to the touch.
Feed every month during the growing season. Root rot will occur if the rootball is kept wet. Weeping fig leaf drop is caused by any type of stress caused by overwatering, underwatering, moving, drafts and low light conditions.