Right from creating a kitchen garden in your balcony to having an entire living room wall dedicated to plants, even a small apartment can be made green, finds out Sohini Chakravorty
Her sprawling grandfather's house where Rashmi S used to spend her summer holidays is the only memory she has of any greenery. Apart from a big garden, they had two very old jackfruit and mango trees. Back in her apartment, the only tree that Rashmi was familiar with was a money plant. Her mother convinced a very young Rashmi that one can make any kind of monetary transactions with the leaves of the climber. Rashmi now a MNC employee says that the only concept of a house plant she has is that of a money plant.
Confined urban constructions and closed living spaces in the city have posed a problem of indoor pollution which if neglected can lead to serious health threats. In fact, most urban buildings and quarters are coming up with guidelines on constructing a building to optimize the maximum use of natural sunlight, ventilation to make it environment friendly. Volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and microbial contaminants are some of the pollutants that can affect the indoor air quality (IAQ). Explaining some of the factors that are essential for indoor air quality management S. Srinivas, Principal Counsellor, CII-Godrej Green Business Centre says, “Low emission materials and paints should be used so that there is no sense of suffocation that usually one experiences in a freshly painted or constructed house. Cross ventilation and orientation of the building is important during construction of any building.” For residential building he says that the IAQ can be managed by using species of indoor plant that emits oxygen and ensure all the rooms have sufficient fresh air despite air conditioning.
Abhinav Gangumalla who along with his friend started the Hyderabad Goes Green initiative explains that a study conducted on space colonies by NASA revealed that there are variety of indoor plants that can reduce the carbon dioxide inside closed spaces and reduce the volatile organic compounds in the indoor space.
“Some plants like the Areca Palm have the ability to purify the air. Even Snake Plant has the ability to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen in the night. These plant species can negate the Sick Building Syndrome which is related to the poor IAQ management,” he adds.
Maintaining indoor plants is not a hard task at all assures Nagesh Mallu who works for the Sri Rama Nursery. “Plants cannot survive completely in shade. So you have to make sure you leave the plant outside for two hours. Due to low temperatures indoor plants need not be watered a lot. You have to cut the dry leaves immediately and use of mild pesticides occasionally will help keep the bugs away,” he explains.
Closed or lack of space should not be an excuse for the lack of greenery and an environment friendly flat.
Right from creating a kitchen garden in your balcony to having an entire living room wall dedicated to plants, creativity is the key to make your apartment green. “With a little bit of sunlight and natural air, we can convert a vertical wall into a green space. With the use to drip irrigation where a pipe is used to water the area, you don't even have to worry about watering the plants everyday,” says Sonali Shrikanth who runs the shop Forget Me Not. She says that a living room area might pose certain restrictions but a balcony is an ideal place to create a green wall. “In the kitchen balcony you can plant methi, dhania and have a tiny kitchen garden,” she assures.
If home is where the heart is then may be its time to make sure we make our homes healthy and environment friendly for heart.
Ideal indoor plants
lAreca Palm and other species of Palm like Redneck Palm and Rhapis Palm which can serve both as ornamental and environmental friendly.
lCertain varieties of Fern like Boston Fern.
Varieties of Dracaena.
Indoor varieties of Lily.
lndoor Bamboo plants.
Ficus Benjamina popularly known as Weeping Fig. They are available in Bonsai varieties as well.
Chrysanthemum, though available only in spring and winter.
Tips for maintenance
Potted plants when places in the balcony or the window sill thrive better.
Plants should be placed where there is optimum ventilation and natural light.
If the plant is indoors, you can place the plants in balcony on alternate days to manage space.
Use mild pesticides every 15 days.