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#48 Home Detox: Gardening for Wellness

Home Detox: Indoor Gardening for Wellness!

Gardening and wellness go hand in hand. With winter well behind us (knock on wood… this is Canada after all) nature is in full swing, blooming and growing! If you have a green thumb, your yard may be calling to you.

If you’re more like me, you may tend to have less of a green thumb and more of a thumb that plants fear. Regardless, plants have immense value. They brighten the day, they detoxify the air, and they may just become your next hobby!

With mobility and pain developments in your neuropathy, outdoor gardening may increasingly become a struggle. Mowing, raking, weeding, and planting may just be too exhausting or painful. If gardening is something you enjoy, you need not shy away from it. Simply alter it! Focusing on smaller outdoor potted plants may satisfy your green thumb or you may want to try indoor gardening. Bonus: cleaner air for your home!

A small plant in a terracotta sitting on the floor by a wooden stand.
English Ivy: Wolverton’s Top Rated Clean Air Plants.
Image Source: Kulbir from Pexels 

How plants clean our air

Although all plants produce oxygen and consume carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, studies show that plants also remove certain airborne toxins from the environment. Some plants are more effective than others at toxin removal. This purification process occurs thanks to metabolic breakdown and transpiration. Through a process called metabolic breakdown, the leaves of plants can draw in particular chemicals and destroy them. Furthermore, the plants that are most successful at the metabolic breakdown of airborne toxins, are ones with increased transpiration rates, or they move the air from their leaves to their roots quickly. Then, certain toxins are utilized as a new source of food or energy for the plant. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes that any given indoor environment can have up to 900 chemicals. These airborne toxins include carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene.  Many of these chemicals are known to be neurotoxic.

A peace-lily on a table with a 3 flowers against a blank background.
Peace Lily: Wolverton’s Top Rated Clean Air Plants.
Image Source: CNA

The best cleaning plants

Dr. Bill Wolverton, an environmental engineer and scientist, well known for his studies on indoor air pollution reduction,establishes the best houseplants for cleaner air based on the assessment categories: removal of chemicals, ease of care, resilience to insects, and transpiration rate. The top rated houseplants for purification of air include: 

  1. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
  2. Rubber plant (Ficus robusta)
  3. Dracaena Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’)
  4. English ivy (Hedera helix)
  5. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
  6. Ficus alii (Ficus binnendijkii ‘Alii’)
  7. Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)
  8. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
  9. Corn plant (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’)
  10. Golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  11. Areca palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens or Dypsis lutescens)
  12. Lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)
A teal blue asia in a glass bowl lined with small white rocks on the bottom
Little guy with big benefits! Breathe in breathe out!
Image Sourcepixabay.com

Get creative!

Check out Walmart or a local greenhouse for some of Wolverton’s top rated houseplants and enjoy that fresh air! If you enjoy the creativity and maintenance of gardening past the clean breathing benefits, get inspired with your indoor gardening! Use your imagination and get creative in small ways:

– Indoor gardening is an art form in itself! Buy a terrarium or container, and fill it with gravel, potting soil, and your favourite succulents. Google plant terrarium workshops to find events in the city that provide you with the inspiration, tools, and set up! Bottle gardens are whimsical and unique. Settle a plant in soil down a bottle neck or pop some sticks of bamboo in a wine bottle refilled with water.

– Create a tabletop Zen rock or sand garden. Get inspired at stores like Chapters; they have countless kits to start mini gardens. Herb gardens are great for transferring that creativity into your cooking as well.

– Try an indoor cactus garden. The bright colours of cacti can satisfy any gardener’s desire for the floral but they are hardy and simple to keep inside. Christmas cacti are a particularly popular choice.

A Terrarium with succulent plants and stickers of R2D2 and a spaceship on the outside.
May the force be with you: Star Wars inspired terrarium.
Image Source: CNA
Two teacups with saucers that have small plants inside.
Spot of tea: Who says plants need pots!
Image Source: CNA

Whether you have a bright green thumb or not, try out indoor gardening as a hobby to satisfy your artistic side or simply for the detoxification benefits. Pick up a potted plant or get creative with different techniques, and enjoy the calm, health, and accomplishment of growing and nourishing a little leafy friend who wants to brighten your day and clean the air you breathe. Check out Wolverton’s How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office for more reading.

Close up of a person's hands as they plant succulents in a pot, with other succulents around the pot.
Image Source: CNA


  1. Cushing, M., & Latov, N. (2009). You Can Cope with Peripheral Neuropathy: 365 Tips for living a fill life. New York: Demos Medical Publishing.
  2. Seaman, Greg. (2018). The Top 10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxins. Retrieved from: https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/the-top-10-plants-for-removing-indoor-toxins/
  3. Wolverton, B.C. (2018). Wolverton Environmental Services. Retrieved from: http://www.wolvertonenvironmental.com/faq-air.html
  4. Wolverton, B.C. (1997). How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office. New York: Penguin Books.
  5. Wolverton BC, et al. Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement. Final Report––September 15, 1989. Stennis Space Center, MS:Science and Technology Laboratory, John C. Stennis Space Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1989). Retrieved from: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19930072988
  6. https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-mini-zen-gardening-kit/9780762408283-item.html
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