Snake Plant, Cast Iron Plant, Dragon Tree and Spider Plant
Writer / Nancy Craig
With names like Snake Plant and Dragon Tree, no wonder my nephew’s wife, Jill, is not too keen on having these plants in her house. Her sons, Max and Eli, my great nephews, will have to help me convince her to let us try some new houseplants. In addition, Jill says she always kills the houseplants no matter if they are pretty and have nice names like Lady Palm and Peace Lily.
One way we hope to change her mind is to point out the benefits of having houseplants – they are clean air machines! From research by NASA, several plants were tested to do more than just put oxygen back into the air; they actually clean the air of toxins. The spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum, will be good near their fireplace since it removes carbon monoxide. The snake plant and the cast iron plant are rated top air purifiers, plus both are very easy to grow as are the Dracaenas like the Dragon Tree.
One of the top air cleaners is the Areca or butterfly palm, and for Jill, we will try the Lady Palm, Rhapis excels, which is safe for children. Some plants, like the peace lily, Spathiphyllum, are good for the bathroom and kitchen since it removes mold spores from the air, but if eaten in large quantities, it can be poisonous. The Boston fern is said to be the best purifier, but it is hard to keep them alive in our dry heated homes.
My niece, Elaine, has kept houseplants that had been her mom’s, and since her mom, my sister Alice, passed away in 1999, the plants are getting some age on them. Plus, her daughters, Lindsey and Lauren, my great nieces, have learned that it does not help the plants to pull them out of their pots.
Her plants are Dracaenas which are good air purifiers, but now they have a Dr. Seuss crazy spindly look and need to have their tops cut off. So Elaine, a busy mom of twins, needs new plants that are indestructible. The twins will like the Peperomia plants like P. caperata ‘Ripple’ which has fun wrinkly leaves, and with the common name of radiator plant, they should tolerate questionable upkeep.
The challenge is to find houseplants that will look great, are safe for children and easy to take care of! My new favorite book is “The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot in Your Home” by Tovah Martin. Tovah goes beyond boring foliage of the peace lily plants and suggests Echeveria species which are succulents with unique rosette foliage. Their flower spirals have a good Dr. Seuss look. Maybe Jill will let the boys try a Kangaroo Paws plant that has fun golden flowers spires and fuzzy leaves.
My challenge will be to try to grow a Phalaenopsis Moth orchid, and I’m also going to add a Dracaena called Janet Craig. A plant with that name will be family!