Get an “A” in Biology! Indoor plants, particularly in the classroom, host an array of benefits.
In 2010, various researchers at Australia’s University of Technology compared classroom settings with and without plants. The results were shocking! The students who had plants in their classroom, demonstrated improvements in spelling, math and science. Another study at the University of Michigan found a 20% increase in the retention of memories of students who had contact with plants.
Classroom plants also provide a teaching opportunity where students learn about the plants around them.
We’ve highlighted our favorite plants for the classroom based on low maintenance, pest resistant and efficiency at removing chemical vapors and adding moisture to the air.
Also known as Yellow Palm or Butterfly Palm, the Areca Palm is one of the most popular and graceful palms. It is tolerant of the indoor environment, releases copious amounts of moisture into the air, removes chemical toxins, and has aesthetic benefits.
The Areca is consistently rated among the best houseplants for removing all indoor air toxins tested. This indoor plant thrives best in direct, bright sunlight, and therefore should be placed near a window.
With large leaves that span from six to twelve inches wide, the Raphis Palm features between four and ten thick, shiny leaves. Encourage students to look closer with a magnifying glass and explore this Palm’s deeply divided, leaves. It is highly resistant to attack by most plant insects and is great for improving indoor air quality. It grows slowly and is easy to maintain. Best in direct, bright sunlight.
Possibly one of the most popular Palm varieties and one of the most easy to care for, the Bamboo Palm pumps much needed moisture into the indoor atmosphere, especially during winter months when heating systems dry the air. This palm is also one of the top-rated plants for the removal of benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde. Best in direct, bright sunlight.
Bred for toughness, it will tolerate dim light and cool temperatures, making it an excellent classroom plant for rowdy children. This plant is easy to grow and is great for removing chemical toxins from the indoor environment, particularly formaldehyde. Best in direct, bright sunlight to indirect, medium sunlight.
Dracaena “Janet Craig”
The dark-green leaves of Dracaena “Janet Craig” make it an attractive plant. It is one of the best plants for removing trichloreoethylene. These plants can tolerate neglect and dimly lit environments. Best grown in indirect, medium sunlight, it will tolerate dimly lit areas, but growth will slow.
English Ivy is often used as ground cover in public atriums or lobbies. To appeal to children’s interest, try growing Ivy in a hanging basket. It is easy to grow and adapts to a variety of environments. However, they do not generally do well in high temperatures. Best in indirect, medium sunlight to low sunlight.
One of the primary reasons Pothos is popular as it can tolerate lower light, lower humidity and cooler temperatures than many other plants. Pothos is rated one of the best houseplants for removing all indoor air toxins and was noted by NASA as one of the top air purifiers. They do not like wet soil and should not stay too moist. Best in indirect, medium sunlight but it will also tolerate very low light.
Pothos is also the perfect plant to teach students about pruning and plant care. Explain to students that pruning promotes new growth.
A new Ficus variety that is quickly gaining popularity, the Ficus Alii features slender, attractive dark green leaves. Its ability to help purify the air, ease of growth and resistance to insects make it an excellent choice for the classroom. It is much less finicky than the Ficus Benjamina. Best in direct, bright sunlight to indirect, medium sunlight.
Similar to other species of Ficus, expect some leaf drop until the plant adjusts to its new location.
Boston Ferns provide not only a lesson in biology, but a lesson in history! They are probably one of the oldest groups of plants and many have been as fossils, dating back to prehistoric times.
With stiff, arching fronds, the Boston Fern is grown strictly for its foliage. As an indoor plant, it does require a certain amount of attention. Assign a different student to mist and water the plant each day. Without water, the leaves will quickly turn brown and drop.
It is the best for removing air pollutants, especially formaldehyde, and for adding humidity to the indoor environment. Best in indirect, medium sunlight.
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
Another planted listed on NASA’s top air purifiers, the Peace Lily produces beautiful white spathes. The Peace Lily excels in the removal of alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde. Its ability to remove air pollutants and its excellent performance in all categories make it a most valuable classroom plant. Best in indirect, medium sunlight to low sunlight.