Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars114
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on March 4, 2002
The book is laid out beautifully. The 50 plants are listed by rank based on removal of chemical vapors, ease of maintenance, resistance to insect infestation, and transpiration rate. Each plant gets a two-page spread; one page discusses the plant's ideal environment, sunlight conditions, care, and general information about the plant along with a full photo of it. The next page has a zoomed-in full-page photo of the leaves and/or flowers so the reader gets a feel for what the plant looks like and how it will fit with their decor.
The book begins by discussing the research about the air purification qualities of houseplants. The initial chapters explain how air contaminates enter our homes, the adverse effects these toxins have on humans, and how plants remove the contaminates from the air. I was surprised to learn that common household items such as blankets, toys, gas stoves, computers, and carpets can lead to allergies, asthma, even cancer, and that they might contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Once I read how certain plants can remove these dangerous microbes from the air, my husband and I immediately discussed adding these plants to our home.
The author explains in great detail how to care for the plants, which I found very helpful as a novice indoor gardener. The author also details the specific toxins that different plants remove, and indicates whether the plants transpire at night (which is good for a bedroom) or during the day.
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on August 25, 1999
We all live in houses/apts (at least most of us do!) & thus are all exposed to indoor pollutants. This book starts out w/ an overview of what NASA has found out about indoor air pollution & how to combat it... with plants. Plants not only beautify the home, & bring the outdoors in, but they can also provide a big plus to our health. My husband & I got some new windows installed last fall & have done some painting in a couple of the downstairs room. I have kept peace lilies in the kitchen ever since, as well as a spider plant and have had a rubber plant in the living room. All of which are good at absorbing toxins from the air & are good in low light (which is what we have in those rooms).
In addition to being informative, this book has beautiful photos of all the plants & is very attractive. Makes great housewarming gift!
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on January 27, 2001
This is a beautifully put-together book focusing on a unique aspect of plant ownership. Entries include both a full-on picture of a healthy, attractively potted specimen, plus a close-up detail of leaves &/or flowers. Descriptions of plant care are concise, well organized and accompanied by a more generalized description of the plant and particulars. Each plant is rated on four characteristics (removal of chemical vapors, ease of growth & maintenance, resistance to insect infestation, & transpiration rate), using an easy to read bar chart which appears on the same page as the description & picture.
This book is an excellent addition to an avid collector's plant library, both for its curiosity value & beautiful coverage of basic houseplants, and doubtless of interest to people concerned about air quality as well. It also provides enough basic information on each plant to be a useful reference for beginning enthusiast, but I would qualify that by saying that newbies will probably want a more broadly based work as their first home reference guide. For people looking for gift books, the pictures & layout are lovely.
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on August 6, 2010
PROS:
There are many positive aspects of this book - nicely shot photos and overviews of many plants, including various rankings for each plant: Removal of Chemical Vapors, Ease of Growth and Maintenance, Resistance to Insect Infestation, Transpiration Rate. It also does a good job explaining why each of these aspects is important.

CONS:
I took off one star for how brief and general the overview and care are - while this is a good basic listing of plants, you're going to need another reference for tips on purchasing, planting, placement, etc.

I took off another star for something I find much more important - it's probably enough to knock off the two stars on its own. There is NO indication on any of the plant pages as to toxicity. For those of us who have pets and/or children, it is critical to know what in our homes is poisonous. I specifically checked the pages for plants that I know offhand to be toxic - Poinsettia and Peace Lilly - and neither mentioned anything about it.

This could be a forgivable omission in a general listing of plants, but for a book that claims to "Purify Your Home or Office" it seems unnecessarily reckless.

For example, it recommends the Peace Lilly, saying its "ability to remove indoor air pollutants and its excellent performance in all categories make it a most valuable houseplant," without mentioning that if ingested by pets, it can cause symptoms leading to "convulsions, renal failure, coma and death." [...]

I plan on going through the book, searching online to find out how toxic each listed plant is, and labeling them as such in the book. If you're willing to do this, then the book should be useful to you.
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on October 26, 2003
This book not only gives concise, quantitative data about which substances each plants removes from the air, but combines this data with other factors like ease of care and pest resistance to give one overall ranking to each plant. The introduction is fascinating, especially the part about his eco-house which uses plants to clean his water waste as well as the air. However, what I like best about the book is the gorgeous pictures. I have never seen a plant book with such large, glossy pictures of such perfect plants matched with the ideal pot. It's beautiful!
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on July 18, 2001
I have been looking for information on purifying plants for a while now. Through Amazon, I discovered this book and have added it to my library. As a country girl, living in a 30-yr. old apartment in an industrial city has caused my asthmatic/allergy-prone lungs to struggle a little. This book spells out the sources of dangerous chemical vapors, and specifies plants and plant species which not only reduce these toxins, but beautify your home. My apartment is small, so this book helped me tremendously in choosing plants that are purifying & humidifying, while advising me on ease-of-care and pest control. Strongly recommended for those with environmental concerns. Few Houseplant books refer to this element of indoor gardening.
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VINE VOICEon June 17, 2007
The photos are simple, beautiful, and informative. The information for each plant is really helpful, and it's nice to have a chart of which toxins come from which sources. I really enjoyed seeing the different plants and picking a good one for our house (although it was hard for me to track one down and I actually ended up buying seeds for it--I hope they'll grow!). The book is organized pretty intuitively, although navigation might take a little longer if you want to find a particular plant (since they're in order of overall rating rather than alphabetical order, you'd have to either use the index or flip for a while).
The only reason I didn't give the book five stars is that I would make an addition to each individual page with a plant on it: I'd list information about whether the plant is poisonous to humans and their pets. For people who have young children, cats, dogs, and/or other animals in the house (or the clinic, or wherever the plants will be placed), this is an important consideration.
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on January 5, 2001
Superb easy to read book with lots of colorful photos. Written by a highly respected scientist who was in charge of keeping the air clean in space capsules for NASA until his retirement. Dr. Wolverton also is founder of Houseplants for clean air society. He explains in easy to read fashion the dangerous air polutants in your house: where they come from, and best yet, how to get rid of them. His many years research into the subject give the reader this easy to understand handbook on making the air in your house healthy. I, of course, have benefitted from the book; but so have many of my patients. Those benefitting the most are asthma patients and patients with chronic sinus problems. What a wonderful book!
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on October 3, 2003
I found this book well-written and easy to use. It helped me select the right plants and learn how to grow them. I currently have about 25 plants, and they are all low maintenance and problem-free. My indoor air quality has improved, and my house looks great with so many green plants of all shapes and sizes. This book is great!!!!
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on July 21, 2008
"How to Grow Fresh Air" is the best book I've found on the topic of using plants to improve air quality. It has easy-to-use recommendations, rating plants' ability to improve air quality and listing information that will help the reader decide if they can keep this plant alive.

There are a few problems. First, the book does not describe the 50 best plants -- it describes the only 50 plants tested. Second, this book doesn't indicate how many plants should be put in a room. An internet search of unknown accuracy indicated 1 to 3 plants (size medium to large) for 100 square feet of floor space (attributed to the author). Third, the book doesn't tell you about any patterns the authors observed in their research: does plant size matter? Leaf size? By how much? Growth rate? If there were a simple pattern (like large fast-growing plants are best; or that air-cleaning appears to be a characteristic of certain plant species), then this would be very good to know. Forth, the research is at least 12 years old, and there doesn't appear to be any new research on this subject. Fifth, I found two conflicting tables in the technical section. This doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling about the book's technical accuracy -- like Al Gore's "time goes backwards" Global Warming chart. The whole thing reads like an exploratory research project that wasn't funded further -- but should have been.

With that said, this book has useful advice, and seems to be worth the purchase price. I'm going to give buy a few of the highest rated plants for my office, and see if their gas-elimination properties (combined with my air filter) yields improved air quality.
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