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Briefs: Plants are leafy pollution fighters


NASA scientists have found that houseplants are useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside modern buildings. The foliage of indoor plants is capable of removing low levels of pollution, while the roots, assisted by activated carbon filters, removed air pollutants at higher concentrations. In tests, these filters removed and biologically degraded pollutants before they accumulate.

Here's NASA's list of the top house plants that were most effective in removing formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene and carbon monoxide. We think they're attractive, too.

Bamboo palm

Chinese evergreen

English ivy

Gerbera daisy

Dracaena "Janet Craig"

Dracaena "Marginata"

Dracaena "Warneckii"

Corn plant

Sansevieria, or mother-in-law's tongue

, Chrysanthemum

Peace lily

Help plants help themselves

Here's a great product for frequent travelers — or lazy gardeners. Soil Moist Mats are easy-to-use, nontoxic mats that keep your plants watered for up to three weeks. Just place a mat on a large leak-proof tray or baking pan. Slowly and evenly saturate the mat with up to 2 quarts of water. Place potted plants gently on the mat, making sure the pots have unobstructed bottom holes for roots to extract moisture from the mat. And that's it; your plants will be happy for weeks. Each mat measures 11 inches by 15 3/4 inches, large enough for several plants. A package of two mats sells for $4.95 from Thompson & Morgan (, toll-free 1-800-274-7333).

Fight insects naturally

Could this be the end of hard-core chemical warfare against creepy crawlers? Terminix has introduced a natural pest-control spray called SafeShield made primarily from plant extracts. The spray is designed to target common household pests, including ants, roaches, flies and spiders. Active ingredients include thyme oil and geraniol, an alcohol derived from geraniums. Terminix SafeShield can be ordered at for $9.99 plus shipping and handling.

Compiled from Times wires

Briefs: Plants are leafy pollution fighters 08/21/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 21, 2009 4:30am]
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