ByLisa Beres

Nov 30, 2017

You don’t have to have a green thumb — or be vegan — to delight in the presence of plants. Gardening and food consumption aside, household plants are pretty miraculous to have around due to their numerous superpowers. And what better time to take advantage than during the holidays, when we could all use as many superpowers as possible.

Health Benefits of Plants

Most of us realize the pluses of incorporating greenery in our indoor environments, including 20 percent less dust, according to a study by Washington State University. Besides magical fairy dusting and beautification of a space, plants can absorb up to 10 percent of carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air we breathe. Plants even reduce stress and boost morale when placed in offices, simultaneously reducing airborne bacteria.

Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality

What many people are unaware of is the fact that certain plants do all of the above while also removing toxic gases and chemical vapors commonly found in our indoor environments, according to studies by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Green building today is great for energy efficiency, but it’s not always so great for our health. In 1973, NASA realized that indoor air pollution in tightly sealed structures could present health-related problems. The Clean Air Study, led by Dr. B.C. Wolverton in conjunction with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, discovered the miraculous benefits of 50 houseplants (three of them being holiday plants) that are exceptional little air scrubbers. These must be potted plants in soil and ideally, one should be placed every 100 feet for maximum air filtration benefits, as advised by NASA.

3 Holiday Plants that Remove Chemicals

Three popular holiday plants — the Poinsettia, the Norfolk Island Pine and the Christmas Cactus — work as natural, mini air purifiers. They provide an affordable defense by absorbing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia, from the air through the tiny openings in their leaves (stomata) and their root microbes. Let’s take a closer look at each plant.

1. Poinsettia

You’ll recognize this holiday beauty from its bright, vibrant bracts (leaves). Ironically, it’s not the flower of this plant, rather the leaves, that are grown in pink, red, white, speckled or marbled. Discovered by Joel Poinsett in 1830 in Southern Mexico, this plant prefers semi-shade. It’s easy to grow and pretty resistant to insect infestation. Water when the top layer is dry.

2. Norfolk Island Pine

Photo: Adobe Stock

This evergreen often serves as a mini Christmas tree with a similar appeal. One variety, the heterophylla, is suitable for indoors and can grow up to 10 feet high! It was discovered by Captain Cook and botanist Sir Joseph Banks. The Norfolk Island Pine prefers full sun to semi-shade. Use water sparingly in the winter and mist often.

3. Christmas Cactus

Photo: Adobe Stock

This beautiful cactus with bright red buds blooms fully in December. Unlike most plants, this cactus removes CO2 and releases oxygen at night, making it a great plant for the bedroom. It prefers semi-sun and is highly resistant to insect infestation. Allow it to dry between waterings.

There you have it — the perfect holiday or housewarming gift. Your host or hostess will be breathing easier through the hustle and bustle while enjoying a more beautiful and relaxing home.


By Lisa Beres

Lisa Beres is a healthy home authority, Baubiologist, published author, professional speaker and Telly award-winning media personality who teaches busy people how to eliminate toxins from their home with simple, step-by-step solutions to improve their health. With her husband, Ron, she is the co-founder of The Healthy Home Dream Team and the 30-day online program Change Your Home. Change Your Health. She is the author of the children’s book My Body My House and co-author of Just Green It!: Simple Swaps to Save Your Health and the Planet, Learn to Create a Healthy Home! Green Nest Creating Healthy Homes and The 9 to 5 Greened: 10 Steps to a Healthy Office. Lisa’s TV appearances include "The Rachael Ray Show," "Nightly News with Brian Williams," "TODAY," "The Doctors," "Fox & Friends," "Chelsea Lately" and "The Suzanne Somers Show."