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The freezing temperatures have come upon most of us. While we are lacking in greenery outdoors, we still can have it indoors. Houseplants can be a wonderful addition to any decorative scheme, and can also improve indoor air quality by filtering toxins and replacing oxygen. For the safety of young children and/or pets, however, one should consider choosing a plant that is the least likely to cause health problems.

NOTE: Any plant can cause allergic reactions in some persons.

The plants listed below are considered the safest in Household plants:

  • Prayer Plant (Maranta spp.)
  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis spp.)
  • Corn Plant (Dracaena spp.)
  • Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus spp.)
  • Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe spp.)
  • Christmas or Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera spp.)
  • African Violet (Saintpaulia spp.)
  • Airplane Plant (Chlorophytum spp.)

Success with a plant largely depends on the environment you provide. Determine where in your home you want plants, then note the environment of that site. Most plants that you purchase come with tags in the soil that tell you the amount of light exposure the plant will need, how moist you should keep the soil, and how large the plant will become. Finally, select plants whose texture, form, height, and color suit your taste and chosen design.


    Once you choose a plant, or plants, that you will want, you will need to purchase a pot to put it in, if it doesn't already come in one. Some people like to choose designs of all types, others like to have pots of different sizes but with the same color. Picking out the pot can be just as fun as picking out the plant, and can really add that certain aspect of design to your decor. Make sure the size of the pot is large enough to allow your plants roots to grow. Houseplants can always be replanted at a later date in a larger pot once it outgrows its original pot. Make sure the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom, some decorative pots can be very pretty, but without this very important feature. Along with the pot, choose an adequate drainage plate to put underneath the pot, slightly larger then the circumference of the bottom of your pot.

    Many fertilizers are available for houseplants, most of them say right on the box whether they are for indoor or outdoor plants. Choose the fertilizer according to whether you have a flowering or non-flowering plant. If you have trouble finding the right one, ask someone in the store for assistance.
Bringing Your Plant Home

    Pick out a suitable area in your house where you can work with your plant and soil; I recommend covering your working area with newspaper. Depending on how you feel about dirt on your hands, you might want some gloves.
Removing the Plant From its Original Planter

    For smaller pots:
      Lightly tap the sides of the pot. Then place the palm of your hand on the root ball (the root system and soil), holding the main stems between your fingers. Stand, sit, or kneel over the newspaper. Holding the root ball so that nothing slips through, turn the plant upside down and tap on the sides and bottom of the pot. The plant should slip smoothly from its former home into your cupped hand.
    For larger pots:
      Insert a flat stick or blunt knife between the pot and the soil and work it around the circumference of the pot. While holding the plant with one hand, lay it on its side and tap a bit more firmly as you rotate the pot. If it's sticky, use a wooden block to tap the exterior of the pot, to dislodge the root ball from the pot. When you're sure the plant is loose, slide it out slowly from the pot onto the newspaper you've laid out.
Planting Your New Houseplant in its Pot
    1. Prepare the root-ball for the transfer.
      Prune the roots by trimming thin slices off the root ball. Use a serrated knife, sawing gently on each side or around the circumference. Take at least a half-inch off smaller plants.
    2. Create a drainage area in your new pot.
      Use one-half inch to three or four inches of gravel or sand, depending on the side of the plant and pot.
    3. Place your newly trimmed root ball in the pot.
      Scoop on some fresh potting soil and gently push it down the sides of the pot with your fingers. Pack the soil and water the plant lightly.
    4. Water lightly.
      HINT: Don't feed your new plant for at least a month, this allows it to absorb all of its nutrients from the new soil.
Parking Your Plant
    Choose an area in your house in which you will want to have your plant displayed. Those with smaller children will definitely want to consider high areas: over the kitchen sink, on the fireplace mantle, or high on a window shelf. NOTE: During the winter, placing a plant to close to the window might cause it to get too cold. Also, choose the area according to the amount of light exposure your new plant requires.

It might take you a little while to get use to your plant, so plan on feeling its soil quite often for its moisture. After time, you will know how often you will need to water it. Feed it according to your fertilizer's box directions.

Although household plants will help beautify and improve air quality in your home, there still are indoor air pollutants that could cause you and your family harm. Please see Solving Indoor Air Quality Problems in our Home Maintenance Section.

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