Dec 23, 2015 8:18 PM CST
Thread OP
Name: Jared Nicholes
Dietrich, Idaho (Zone 6a)

I got for my mom five plants for Christmas, an Aloe, a Peace Lily, a Snake Plant, a Golden Pothos, and a Parlor Palm. I have attached a picture.

Thumb of 2015-12-24/jnicholes/55b0ca

I have a question about all these plants. I saw on the internet that these plants were tested by NASA and that they basically take certain gases out of the air and make indoor air cleaner. First question, is this true?

Second, is there anything unique about these plants that I need to know?

Third, are they toxic to pets?

Fourth, how big does each one get?

Finally, Should they be transplanted into new pots? They are currently in 4" pots.

All help will be greatly appreciated.

Merry Christmas!

Dec 23, 2015 8:44 PM CST
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
Frugal Gardener Garden Procrastinator I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest
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It's usually a good idea to peek at the roots of anything you just bought. If they are root-bound or close to it (you can see lots of white roots, perhaps even circling the pot) If you see more roots than soil, start thinking about potting-up or re-potting.

At least move root-bound plants into bigger pots with FAST-DRAINING soilless mix. That's "potting up" and pretty easy. The mix needs to be much more coarse than garden soil, because a plant in a pot is very different from plants in the Earth. That little pot has to supply the nutrients and drainage AND AIR to the roots that would come from a much larger volume in the ground.

Soil (in the Earth) rests firmly on other soil, and drainage can occur straight down or sideways. Air can get to the roots through a large area of soil, and MANY kinds of micro and macro organisms have evolved to make plants happy.

In a pot, all they have is a few cubic inches of soilless mix, and you. If that mix doesn't drain well, it will hold enough water to displace air from the tiny voids and channels in the soil. Once filled with water, gasses like Oxygen diffuse literally 10,000 times slower than they would have if those voids had been filled filled with air as they should!

Reduced oxygen makes soil anaerobic. Roots quite literally drown - and die - and then the plant dies.

Hence, you want a coarse soilless mix in any pot. Enough water drains out, and the voids between the chunks are big enough, that much of the water exits and is replaced by air. That allows RAPID diffusion of O2 and CO2 ... keeping the roots alive, the plant healthy, and your mother happy.

If the pot comes away from the rootball cleanly, and the rootball is a solid mass of white, you might want to look up and do a "root-pruning" and soil replacement which are the key parts of a real "RE-potting".

Like, cut off the bottom inch or inch and a half of solidly overcrowded roots, and unravel or cut off the winding roots. Wash the old soil away from the remaining roots, and wiggle them into new potting soilless mix in a bugger pot.

Stores make money by doing the LEAST amount of work that will keep most of the plants barely alive, long enough to sell them. But now you've given them a good home, and they will thank and repay you for giving them what they need most: a well-drained root zone that provides room for new, small roots to form in new, clean soil.

Only new, small roots can take up minerals and water through root hairs. Those big old tough things that look like tree roots trying to strangle something, can't do much more than anchor the plant. That's why root-pruning helps the plant in the long run. As the roots grow back, the new roots are covered with healthy root hairs.

Someone more expert might suggest WHEN is a good time for re-potting. Maybe right before winter is a stressful time, and re-potting should be left for later?
Avatar for roose
Dec 23, 2015 8:45 PM CST
north carolina (Zone 7a)
The parlor palm is the only one that is NOT toxic to cats and dogs according to

From the NASA clean air study the boston ferns and lady palm would be good for pets
Dec 23, 2015 10:34 PM CST
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
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The NASA Clean Air Study was originated a long time ago, and no idea if there is more up-to-date info on this, but it does note that all plants remove carbon dioxide from room air, and release oxygen. It seems to me that a more in-depth study would tell you how many plants it takes to purify and oxygenate the air in a given space. But it's safe to assume (and of course we know) that you can't have too many plants. Big Grin

Here's a link to a study on reducing ozone (primary air pollutant) in indoor air that concludes all the plants they tested did effectively remove ozone from an enclosed space. If you live in a city that suffers air inversions, and has bad air quality it seems you'd want to have lots of BIG plants!

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Dec 24, 2015 1:16 AM CST
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Level 2
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@Trish wrote of snake plant:
"An easy to grow house plant that is great for improving air quality. It is known as one of the best plants for reducing or filtering formaldehyde."
from Snake Plant Comments
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Dec 25, 2015 10:21 PM CST
Name: David Laderoute
Zone 5B/6 - NW MO (Zone 5b)
Ignoring Zones altogether
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@jnicholes - Jared. You are getting these for your Mother? Do as much research as you can and summarize for her. One thing not mentioned directly so far is watering. These plants require vastly different amounts - the Snake plant very little compared to the peace lily. For most people growing house plants, the biggest killer is watering - and the worst of the two is over watering versus under watering.

Fortunately, these are all fairly easy for anyone to grow. From my personal experience with all of them, the Snake and Pothos are the easiest.

Without specific variety info, some of your questions are hard to answer. The ATP plant database will likely help. The peace lily will likely be the first needing repotting as they expand with offsets fairly quickly.

The air will certainly be more refreshing as they produce more oxygen while removing carbon dioxide and some other gases from the air.

Depending on the varieties, the Snake or Parlor Palm will get the biggest. If the Peace lily is a large variety, it can also get quite large. Chances are it is a smaller variety.

Good luck
Seeking Feng Shui with my plants since 1976
Dec 26, 2015 1:01 PM CST
Thread OP
Name: Jared Nicholes
Dietrich, Idaho (Zone 6a)

Thanks for all the advice you all gave me! My mom LOVED these plants and she loved the info you all gave me!


Dec 28, 2015 11:37 AM CST
Name: Jim Goodman
Northeast Louisiana
The peace lily needs to be in a bigger pot. They are hard to keep alive. You might have to move it around in your home several times before you find a spot where it thrives.

The snake plant also needs to be repotted. They git top heavy. They do well most anyplace except in full sun. Don't give the much water.

The Aloe should be repotted as it grows. Just mist the leaves and very little water on the roots.

I don't anything about the palm.

The Aloe is not toxic. If you have heart burn or indigestion, you can break off a leaf, scrape the pulp out an swallow it, for fast relief. Warning, it tastes terrible. Noting will mess with the snake plant. Ignorant on the rest.
Dec 29, 2015 3:58 PM CST
Name: Molly McKinley
Florida Tundra
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Ponds Roses Xeriscape

From your pictures, it appears all the plants need to be planted in larger pots. As big as they are, no doubt, the roots have pretty well taken up the 4" pots. Without more soil, the water will just run through and won't stay with the plant.

After re-potting the peace lily will need to be watered every day regardless. The pothos and the palm should be watered when the soil is almost dry to the touch. The aloe and the snake plant are succulents and store water in their leaves, so are not fussy. Both of these will multiply in their pots and will need to be potted up more frequently.

Jim mentioned the medicinal value of the aloe, but also note that, the balm of the aloe is good for stings, cuts and scrapes. It helps in the healing process and cuts down on scarring of the skin. I share these with all my friends for that.

As was mentioned above, most any plants can help with the air quality, beyond that I am out of my realm.
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