Home Grown


Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners



Ferns Freshen Flats

Ferns bring life into a room any time of year.

In airtight winter homes, they also can be champions at filtering the air. Of 86 plants tested by researchers, ferns topped the list at formaldehyde removal. In fact, seven of the top nine performers were ferns.

The other great filterers of formaldehyde were (#7) lavender and (#9) geraniums (Pelargonium sp.)  These findings were reported by Kwang Jin Kim and associates in an article published in the October 2010 issue of HortScience.





Best at Air Purification

Other researchers have ranked ferns in the top 15 percent of plants in air purification.

A fern can be 50 times more effective than other common houseplants at removing formaldehyde, a volatile organic compound that can build up in well-insulated modern homes.



Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may originate from a variety of indoor sources such as particle board, plywood, carpet, paper products, tobacco smoke, and adhesives. 

Formaldehyde removal by plants was five times faster in light than in dark, according to researchers, so artificial lights in winter should help your plants work longer and harder at cleaning the air.





In addition to  removing formaldehyde, soil microorganisms inhabiting healthy potting soil also clean up the air.

The bottom line is, ferns and other houseplants freshen the air we breathe.  Get some plants, give them some light, and take in a deep breath of fresh air.

Source: University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Nancy Pollard

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