container gardening en-US The Best Cheap Plants for Improving Indoor Air Quality <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-best-cheap-plants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="potted plants" title="potted plants" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I don't have much of a green thumb. In fact, I've managed to kill every house plant I've ever owned &mdash; even things as basic as cactus and bamboo. But it's not for lack of trying. We currently have four plants in our home, all still living (or eking by) after owning them for the past year. However, I imagine that sometime soon I will again have to invest in another plant.</p> <p>Because my house seems to be a plant death trap, it's necessary that I buy plants that are on the cheaper side. I've also been intrigued by plants that improve the air quality of my home. After doing some research I've put together this set of the best plants that will improve your indoor air quality &mdash; all while on a budget. (See also: <a href="">6 Mosquito-Repellent Plants With a Dual Purpose</a>)</p> <h2>Plants That Improve Air Quality: The Research</h2> <p>There are two great sources to learn about plants that improve indoor air quality: <a target="_blank" href="">The NASA Clear Air Study</a> (PDF), and a TED talk by Kamal Meattle entitled &quot;<a href="">How to Grow Fresh Air</a>.&quot; If you'd rather see a condensed version than read through the study or watch the video, Wikipedia has a great chart that lists <a target="_blank" href="">air-filtering plants</a>.</p> <p>In short, the research examines how various pollutants &mdash; including formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, ammonia, and benzene &mdash; are filtered by indoor house plants. (Don't think these are in <a href="">your home's air</a>? Sadly, they are released by things as common as ink, foam, and plastic bags.) It turns out that in a fairly short span of time, plants can make a dramatic difference in your air quality. Meattle recommends as many as four plants per person (depending on the plant), but I think that one is better than none.</p> <h2>Best Plants for Indoor Air Quality</h2> <p>Based on these studies, I selected the plants that either Meattle listed in his talk or those plants that filtered four or five pollutants summarized by the Air Filtering Plants list mentioned above. I've then ranked them by price as found using Google's Shopping tool to determine the best cheap plants for the best indoor air quality.</p> <p><b>1. Mother-in-Law's Tongue / Snake Plant</b></p> <p>Mother-in-Law's Tongue is recommended by Meattle and the NASA study. Depending on the size of the plant and the number of stems, Mother-in-Law's Tongue will cost you anywhere from $15 for a basic plant to $70 at Sam's Club for a snake plant with 50 stems. It filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene. It's recommended that you put it in the bedroom, as it converts CO2 into oxygen at night.</p> <p><b>2. Golden Pothos / Devil's Ivy / Money Plant (<em>Epipremnum Aureum</em>)</b></p> <p>Golden Pothos or Devil's Ivy is recommended by Meattle and NASA and can be easily purchased at Home Depot and Walmart (I've even seen it at <a href="">Ikea</a>) for starting around $15. It filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene.</p> <p><b>3. Pot Mum or Florist's Chrysanthemum</b></p> <p>The Pot Mum is not readily available as a potted plant online, but it's very frugal if you're up for a little bit of work. For under $5 you can buy seeds and grow your own. (I didn&rsquo;t rank it as the top frugal choice because of the extra work required to grow it.) The Chysanthemum flowers nicely and removes formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, ammonia, and benzene from the air.</p> <p><b>4. Peace Lily</b></p> <p>Peace Lilies are beautiful plants and can be purchased for between $35-$50 depending on the plant's size. Like the Pot Mum, it filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, ammonia, and benzene.</p> <p><b>5. Red-Edged Dracaena</b></p> <p>Recommended by NASA, the red-edged dracaena is found in many retail stores and online starting at around $35. This plant filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene.</p> <p><b>6. Areca Palm</b></p> <p>Meattle suggests this plant (but it wasn't included in the NASA study) because of its oxygen-making qualities. It filters xylene and toluene. It's a much larger plant than the others (and looks great in the living room), and it starts at around $45 per plant.</p> <p>Personally, I would mix up the flowering plants (the Peace Lily and Pot Mum) with the non-flowering plants for the most variety, but I like that Meattle suggests just three plants (the Areca Palm, Mother-in-Law's Tongue, and Money Plant). The real question &mdash; which is hardest to kill for a non-gardener like me?</p> <p><em>Do you have plants in your home specifically to improve air quality? Do they seem to help?</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="The Best Cheap Plants for Improving Indoor Air Quality " rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Elizabeth Lang</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home air quality cheap plants container gardening Wed, 09 Jan 2013 11:24:29 +0000 Elizabeth Lang 961782 at Foods You Can Grow in the Comfort of Your Home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/foods-you-can-grow-in-the-comfort-of-your-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="tangerines" title="tangerines" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Don't have an outdoor green space where you can grow fresh food? Don&rsquo;t fret. There are plenty of foods that you can grow indoors &mdash; right inside your home, in fact &mdash; that will have you eating healthier and cheaper in no time. Get that green thumb in action and start planting the seeds to produce-stand independence today. (See also: <a href="">10 Unique Garden Containers and Techniques</a>)</p> <h2>Tangerines</h2> <p>I know what you&rsquo;re thinking &mdash; I can't fit an orange tree in my house. You&rsquo;re right, you can&rsquo;t. But thanks to technology, you <em>can</em> fit a dwarf citrus tree in your home and grow your own juicy, refreshing tangerines. In a garden these dwarf trees can grow up to 12 feet tall, but when planted in a container, their stature stays decidedly more diminutive. It&rsquo;ll take almost a year for your tree to bear fruit, but you can get the process started by following these instructions on <a href="">how to grow citrus in containers</a>.</p> <h2>Lemons</h2> <p>These instructions for <a href="">how to grow a Meyer lemon tree indoors</a> detail how to care for the tree during the summer and winter months (just because you&rsquo;re growing it inside doesn&rsquo;t mean it should stay inside all the time) and also suggest that you can own your own lemon tree for less than $20. At that price, the tree will than pay for itself over its lifetime if you <a href="">use a lot of lemons</a>.</p> <h2>Limes</h2> <p>If you want to grow a lime tree, consult the instructions for lemons above and consider these tips on how to successfully grow indoor fruit trees:</p> <ul> <li>Choose a pot big enough to handle the tree, and make sure it has adequate drainage holes.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>When choosing the type of soil, read the packaging to make sure it&rsquo;s conducive to what you&rsquo;re planting. In this case, you want a mix that's lightweight and drains well.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Water the tree on a regular basis so the soil stays slightly moist but not saturated.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Provide six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day. If direct sunlight isn&rsquo;t available, use an artificial grow light.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>When planting, leave the root collar above the soil line and the top of the root crown barely below the soil. Do not cover the trunk with soil.</li> </ul> <h2>Pineapple</h2> <p>Pineapple seems like the kind of fruit that requires a tropical outdoor climate, but it&rsquo;s surprisingly versatile and well suited for growing in pots. The pros of growing fresh pineapples at home are that they don&rsquo;t require much water or soil (they use the moisture stored in their leaves), and while they prefer full sun, they can grow in dappled shade. To get started, all you need is the top of a pineapple you just ate. That&rsquo;s right &mdash; very easy. When you&rsquo;ve got that, follow these <a href="">easy steps to planting and growing pineapples at home</a>.</p> <h2>Bananas</h2> <p>Dwarf bananas do well indoors because they&rsquo;re self-sufficient &mdash; they don&rsquo;t need a pollinator. Unlike pineapples, however, bananas do require regular watering because of the plant&rsquo;s massive leaves. Other factors to ensure a healthy dwarf banana plant include lots of bright, indirect light, humidity, and adding fertilizer at least once a month. <a href="">Learn how to grow bananas indoors</a> with these tips.</p> <h2>Strawberries</h2> <p>To <a href="">grow strawberries at home</a> you&rsquo;ll need a terra-cotta pot, PVC pipe or a cardboard tube (a toilet paper roll will work fine), and soil high in organic matter. The strawberry plant will also need at least six hours of sun per day.</p> <h2>Quinoa</h2> <p>Quinoa is one of the healthiest foods you can eat &mdash; and it&rsquo;s one of the easiest to grow. Unlike most of the other foods on this list, quinoa doesn&rsquo;t need soil at all. It&rsquo;s perfectly happy growing in water, which cuts down on the mess and leaves you with more space. This <a href="">how-to on growing quinoa</a> suggests using <a href="">empty juice containers</a>, but you can use whatever you&rsquo;d like.</p> <h2>Tomatoes</h2> <p>Red, ripe, juicy tomatoes scream summer, but there&rsquo;s no reason why you can&rsquo;t have fresh tomatoes all year round. According to these <a href="">instructions on how to grow your own tomatoes</a>, &ldquo;windowsill&rdquo; tomatoes do well in small pots filled with quality soil and given adequate attention.</p> <h2>Hot Peppers</h2> <p>Spice things up this winter with <a href="">fresh hot peppers</a> at your fingertips. Fill a peat pot with potting soil and seeds, and set in a warm area &mdash; preferably about 80 degrees. Keep the soil moist and provide adequate light (about 16 hours a day), and you should see seedlings in two to five weeks.</p> <h2>Cucumbers</h2> <p>You&rsquo;ll need ample space to grow cucumbers indoors. They&rsquo;re vine plants that grow along the ground outside, but indoors you may want to grow them vertically to maximize your space. Something else to consider when <a href="">growing cucumbers indoors</a> is the right time to harvest. eHow says that you should pick the produce when it&rsquo;s palm size to avoid an overbearing plant.</p> <h2>Mesclun Greens</h2> <p>Keep the weight off this winter by <a href="">growing mesclun greens</a> in the convenience of your own home. Start with a window box and organic fertilizer, and place the box in a well-lit area for at least six hours a day. Water regularly so the soil is moist but not saturated. It&rsquo;ll take about a month for the plants to reach harvest height, which will be 3&rdquo; to 4&rdquo; tall.</p> <h2>Spinach</h2> <p>Avoid all that E. coli nonsense by <a href="">growing fresh, clean spinach indoors</a> in small pots packed with high-quality soil and time-released fertilizer. After planting the seeds, keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge in about 10 days. Ideal temperatures for growing spinach indoors are between 60 and 85 degrees. Lots of bright sunlight is required.</p> <h2>Carrots</h2> <p>When planted in an outdoor garden, carrots are vulnerable to rodents, but they&rsquo;re perfectly safe from hungry vermin indoors &mdash; and <a href="">surprisingly easy to grow</a>. You&rsquo;ll need a large container &mdash; at least a foot deep &mdash; with drainage holes. Place a tray under the container to catch the water. After planting the seeds, place the container in an area that receives full sunlight. Carrots will be ready to harvest in 65 to 75 days.</p> <h2>Mushrooms</h2> <p><a href="">Mushrooms</a> are one of the <a href="">easiest foods to grow indoors</a> because they require a cool, dark, damp environment &mdash; and most of our basements offer these conditions. Whether you want to grow shiitake, oyster, or white button mushrooms, the first thing you&rsquo;ll need to do is buy the spawns (easier to manage than spores) from a reputable establishment. When you&rsquo;re ready to plant, place the growing medium in a pan and raise the temperature to about 70 degrees using a heating pad and add the spawn. Once the spawn has rooted &mdash; about three weeks later &mdash; cover with an inch of soil and a damp cloth. You&rsquo;ll see the mushrooms appear in about 3 to 4 weeks.</p> <p><em>Do you grown your own food indoors? Something that&rsquo;s not on this list? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Foods You Can Grow in the Comfort of Your Home" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href=""> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> DIY Food and Drink container gardening fresh fruit vegetables Wed, 05 Sep 2012 10:36:43 +0000 Mikey Rox 954296 at Garden Ideas for Small Spaces <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/garden-ideas-for-small-spaces" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="balcony garden" title="balcony garden" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There's no better way for me to wind down at the end of the day than by relaxing on my patio, staring off into luscious green foliage. Yet with a move on the horizon, from residential house to suburban apartment, I realize <a href="">I can't forgo the garden</a> even if my patio is a scant 8 feet by 10 feet. I need the fresh flowers and green leaves that give me the sanity only nature can provide. After measuring out my patio, plotting creative container ideas, and utilizing my outdoor space efficiently, I found that almost any area can be turned into a garden oasis, no matter how diminutive the space. (See also: <a title="Vegetable Gardening: 4 Cheap Hacks" href="">Vegetable Gardening: 4 Cheap Hacks</a>)</p> <h2>Containers of All Sizes</h2> <p>The solution to my patio predicament comes in the form of containers: small, narrow, and vertical. Since my patio is rectangular in shape, the best solution for me is utilizing the three walls surrounding the perimeter and keeping my <a title="6 High-Tech Tools to Help Your Garden Grow" href="">plants growing</a> up and out, leaving me plenty of room for my bistro table. Space-saving containers include the following:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Window boxes</strong> &mdash; Window boxes are normally narrow and horizontal in shape, but they need not only be used in front of windows. Window boxes can be securely anchored to the top of a patio ledge or placed on the ground. An alternative idea is hanging them from a wall or, if your apartment building or complex allows, hanging over a ledge. Not only do window boxes take up less space, they have multiple functions.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Hanging baskets</strong> &mdash; Half moon-shaped baskets can hang from any wall, or a drop-down basket can hang from an awning or overhang. Hanging baskets are space savers, leaving the ground clutter-free. They can be used at various levels creating a rich garden surrounding your patio.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Small and narrow containers and pots</strong> &mdash; Small round pots and narrow containers can be clustered together at different levels using plant stands. Not only can one corner hold many plants, but lifting the plants off the ground allows room for the others to grow.</li> </ul> <h2>Raised Beds</h2> <p>Small gardens don't only exist in apartment living. Many houses found in condensed cities have small yards that are begging for some flora. For areas with a small patch of dirt, raised beds can add color and utility to a cityscape.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Raised beds</strong> &mdash; Most raised beds are DIY. Purchasing rot-resistant wood at a local lumber yard, begin with 2-by-4s varying in length. Since you'll be adding your own soil, the existing dirt can be used as the floor of the bed. Raised beds can come in many shapes and sizes depending on how much room you have to work with. Raised beds also provide plants with excellent drainage.</li> </ul> <h2>Making the Most of an Indoor Environment</h2> <p>What happens if a patio or outdoor area is too small for a garden or non-existent? Use your sunlit windows and create an indoor garden sanctuary. Varying the size and height of plants with the help of plant stands and hanging baskets can turn a corner into a mini-garden. Some indoor plants I've had luck with include:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Philodendrons</strong> &mdash; In particular the heart-shaped variety. They tend to grow with very little care, a deep watering every couple of weeks, and pruning. I've even grown a couple in my shower (they love the misted moisture).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Corn plants</strong> &mdash; They look similar to mini-palm trees with waxy green leaves and thick trunks. They tend to prefer filtered sunlight and require minimal watering.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Herbs</strong> &mdash; Cilantro, mint, and rosemary, to name a few flavorful herbs, can be grown indoors. Be sure to provide ample sunlight and drainage.</li> </ul> <p>With any container plant, adding nutrients every so often will benefit your plants.Checking the amount of water and sunlight the plant needs for optimal growing conditions will help reduce any plant troubles and keep them disease free.</p> <a href="" class="sharethis-link" title="Garden Ideas for Small Spaces" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="">Little House</a> and published on <a href="">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="">Home articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Home apartment living container gardening gardening herbs small spaces Wed, 20 Oct 2010 13:00:17 +0000 Little House 266290 at