When I first purchased my home 20 years ago, I went from a two bedroom apartment to a three bedroom house. The first thing I found was that I had a ton of empty space that needed to be filled, problem number one. The second problem was that I did not have a lot of extra money to buy additional furniture and home accessories. The cheapest way I discovered to decorate was to buy a few houseplants. My initial investment consist of two houseplants, two flower pots, two plant stands, potting soil, and two crossed fingers because I was not an expert by far in growing houseplants. I started decorating my dining room first, because it was empty, and I had two large windows that allowed great light into the room.

The first two plants I purchased were a Golden Pothos (Devil's Ivy) and a Schefflera (Umbrella Tree). Both plants were small when I purchased them and, believe it or not, I still have both 20 years later. The Umbrella Tree is very large and the Golden Pothos is now in a hanging basket, with the vines trailing down and across the floor. I have taken stem cuttings from the Pothos and started other plants several times over the years. Pothos is an air-cleaning plant that removes formaldehyde in the air that comes from carpet and other materials in our homes. They are very low maintenance and only require bright light and water once a week. This plant is extremely easy to grow and even the novice gardener will have success with this plant. The plant can grow to 8 feet or more and easily fills empty space. The Umbrella Tree also requires bright light and should be turned occasionally to keep it growing evenly. I water this plant once per week as well. This plant can grow up to six feet tall and may need some support as it gets larger. I do spray both plants daily to keep the humidity high, as heat from furnaces and cool air from an air conditioner can dry out the air in the room.

Houseplants clean the air by removing formaldehyde, benzene, ammonia, alcohol, xylene and other toxic chemicals harmful to the human body. Plants also improve the air quality by restoring oxygen to the air that we breathe. They also have a calming effect and make us feel good. What began as two houseplants to fill empty space has turned into 13 plants in my dining and living room over the years. I have also made room for 9 plants at my workplace to fill empty space and clean the air there as well. Houseplants can bring years of joy if given the proper care and it does not have to cost a lot of money when used to decorate.