|Asthma is a common medical complaint of children, but don’t assume that ventolin and other steroid medications are your only solution. While you should always follow doctors orders, there are other simple changes that can be made in the home to help – and we’re not talking about fastidiously dusting!
Pot plants are not only pretty and less effort than a pet, but according to horticulturist and creator of The Planthunter, Georgina Reid, they naturally clean our air.
Georgina has teamed with Plant Life Balance to create an app for people to assess how many plants they need in a certain space (such as a bedroom or living room) to eliminate pollutants in the air.
“Obviously, plants make you feel good, and there’s a deep connection between humans and plants,” she says. “RMIT in Melbourne has done a study to make the connection easier to understand.”
The research affirmed NASA’s Clean Air Study that plants remove toxins from the air, but researchers were also able to quantify how many plants you need per room.
“If you had five plants in an average 4m by 5m living room, your air would be 75 per cent cleaner,” Georgina says. “They suck out all the airborne pollutants and organic chemicals from furniture finishes and paint.
“If plants don’t exist, we don’t exist. They feed us, clothe us and are the basis of most of our pharmaceutical medicines.”
Plants are happier outdoors (“They are living, breathing things, but the first thing you should know is, there is no such thing as an indoor plant”), but can still thrive indoors in the right conditions.
“Take a look around your house and get a sense of the light levels,” Georgina says. “The most important thing for plants is light to photosynthesise.”
Some plants which have evolved in the rainforest adapt better to low light and can handle being in the shade, she says, while plants such as cactus are used to dry and arid conditions and need to be in full sun.
Don’t be put off if your plants are looking a little sad; it could be down to overwatering.
“Plants often die because of too much love.”
Georgina says the easiest way to know if a plant needs water is to stick your finger in the potting mix before you water it.
“See how it feels. If it is moist, then it doesn’t need any water. Only if it is dry should you water it, which about once a week in the growing season, and less in winter,” she says.
“Plants also breathe through their roots, so they don’t want to be completely saturated.”
Georgina insists that you don’t have to raise delicate species of plants to be considered a good plant keeper.
Hard to kill plants like such as mother-in-law’s tongue, cast iron and dracaena are very tough, and ideal for people new to plants.
“People get kind of a concern saying, ‘I can’t keep a plant, I might kill it’,” she says. “They think they have a black thumb and they can’t grow anything.
“Plants may die, but give it another go.”