Enhancement of Indoor Environment through Interiorscaping
Authors: Thaneshwari, Poonam Kumari, Deepali Rahi

Interiorscaping is the art and science of growing and arranging plants indoors. It involves the selection, placing and maintenance of plants to improve and enhance the appearance of the indoor environment. Using plants for indoor decoration is not a new idea. Plants in the past were used mainly for their aesthetic purpose, as a hobby or for fashion. Today, plants apart from their aesthetic benefits are used for economic, architectural and most recently for health benefits.


  1. INCREASING URBANIZATION AND THE WAY WE LIVE- As a result of urbanization, people come to live in urban areas. Urban dwellers spend about 90% of their time indoors (at home, school or office). Typically urban air contains in the order of thousands of chemicals, approximately 10% of them are classified as carcinogenic.
  2. INDOOR AIR QUALITY - Good indoor air quality is essential for the health and well-being of building/ house occupants. Indoor air pollution is typically even higher then outdoors. Over 4 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to the household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels. More than 50% of premature deaths is due to pneumonia among children under 5 are caused by the particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution. Annually, 3.8 million premature deaths from noncommunicable diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer are attributed to exposure to household air pollution (WHO, 2016).
  3. SICK BUILDING SYNDROME -The sick building syndrome (SBS) is used to describe a situation in which the occupants of a building experience acute health- or comfort related effects that seem to be linked directly to the time spent in the building.


Air pollutants are the substances that are present in concentrations exceeding the normal range in the atmosphere and that are not part of the fresh air content. Indoor pollutants are various but the main pollutants are Benzene, Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde and CO.

Wolverton et al., in 1989 gave the following sources and effects of pollutants.

Benzene Tobacco smoke, gasoline, synthetic fibers, Plastics, Inks, Oils and Detergents. Carcinogenic, causes drying, inflammation and blistering of skin, dizziness, weakness, headache, nausea, blurred vision, respiratory diseases, irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney damage, paralysis, unconsciousness, headaches, loss of appetite, drowsiness, nervousness, psychological disturbances and diseases of the blood system including anemia and bone marrow disease.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) Tobacco smoke, gasoline, synthetic fibers, Plastics, Inks, Oils and Detergents. liver carcinogen
Formaldehyde Foam insulation, plywood, particle board, clothes, carpeting, furniture and paper goods. Irritation of the upper respiratory tract and eyes. Headaches, Asthma and throat cancer.


Researches have been carried out to test the effect of plants on human well-being and convincing evidences have been brought forward to prove plants effect human health and well-being positively.

  1. IMPROVES INDOOR AIR QUALITY: Houseplants improve indoor air quality. They reduce components of indoor air pollution, particularly volatile organic compounds (Wood et al., 2002; Yang et al., 2009). The compounds are removed primarily by soil microorganisms. House plants also rid the room of pollutants generated by furnaces, stoves and smoking as carbon monoxide. They also appear to reduce airborne microbes. In addition they remove carbon dioxide and add oxygen to the room's air by the process of photosynthesis and also add humidity to the air by the process of transpiration (Su and Lin, 2013). Both of these factors make the air healthier for us to breathe. Interestingly, most of the houseplants that we need are inexpensive and readily available. Wolverton et al., in 1989 gave the following indoor plants as solutions for the pollutants.
Benzene Hedera helix (English ivy) Dracaena marginata (Marginata) Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig” (Janet Craig) Chrysanthemum morifolium (Pot mum) Gerbera jamesonii (Gerbera daisy) Dracaena deremensis “Warneckei “ (Warneckei) Spathiphyllum "Mauna Loa“ (Peace lily)
Trichloroethylene (TCE) Gerbera jamesonii ( Gerbera daisy) Chrysanthemum morifolium( Pot mum) Spathiphyllum ‘'Mauna Loa‘’ (Peace lily) Dracaena deremensis "Warneckei“ (Warneckei) Dracaena marginata ( Marginata)
Formaldehyde Azalea Dieffenbachia sp. Philodendron sp. Chlorophytum elatum( Spider plant) Scindapsus aureus (Golden pothos) Chamaedorea seifritzii (Bamboo palm) Dracaena massangeana (Corn plant) Chrysanthemum morifolium (Pot mum)
  1. AESTHETIC Plants add warmth, colour and charm to the architectural beauty of the house.
  • Plants can be used to decorate walls, as sculpture and for line calligraphy.
  • Plants soften harsh architectural surfaces and compliments the interior settings and draw away attention from unwanted areas.
  • Plants are inexpensive alternative for home decoration and never go out of fashion.
  • Plants reduce energy consumption through heat reduction and wind modification.
  • Plants are portable, adaptive, self-regulating, beautiful and sustainable. They are adaptive to our environments and work well both in AC and non-AC conditions.
  • Natural humidifiers- Foliage plants can raise the relative humidity to healthier and more comfortable levels in interior spaces. And thus, lowers the use of mechanical operators which consume electricity such as air conditioners, fans etc.
  1. HEALT H
  • Reduces noise levels –Generally it was found that plants worked best at reducing high frequency sounds in rooms with harsh surfaces (Freeman, 2003).
  • Studies have been carried out to know how people feel in the presence and absence of plants and these studies have proved that numbers of positive feelings are associated with plants. These feelings include being happier, content, attentiveness, carefree, playful and friendly.

Indoors consists mainly of four areas; service area, private area, public area and family living area.

SERVICE AREA; Service area such as kitchen is a place where temperature and humidity varies greatly when used and not used. Plants which are functional and appropriate can be grown in this place, such as Mint, Parsley, Celery and Thyme.

PRIVATE AREA; Private areas include bath room and bed room.

Bath room- Bath room is an area where humidity is maximum when in use, light is mainly low and temperature is medium to low. Plants which can tolerate in high humidity and low light can be placed in this area such as:Nephrolepsis sp., Asplenium nidus (bird nest fern),Philodendrons scandens, Cissus repens, Scindapsus aureus (pothos) , Philodendron scandens.

Bed room- Bed room is a private area where light is medium to high, temperature is always optimum or medium and humidity is medium to low. Plants like Chlorophytum can be used for its ability to remove pollutant like formaldehyde from cloths, and which in turn cleans the air. Plants that come under this category are: Cyclamen persicum, Chlorophytum comosum, Clivia miniata, Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’.

PUBLIC AREA ; Public area is a place where the public or guests spend time with the family, where showy, large or colourful plants can be used. This area usually has high to medium light, medium temperature and medium to low humidity. Various plants can be used under this condition such as:Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’ (Peace Lily),Hedera helix (English ivy), Scindapsus aureus (pothos), Begonia semperflorence, Ficus elasticus, Ficus pandurata.

FAMILY LIVING AREA; Family living area is an area where all the family members meet and spend time together. This area usually has medium to high light, medium temperature and low to medium humidity, and plants that can be used are: Chamaedorea seifritzii (Bamboo palm), Chlorophytum (Spider Plant), Philodendron scandens, Spathiphyllum sp. (Peace Lily).


Su, Y.M. and Lin, C.H. 2013. CO2 purify effect on improvement of indoor air quality (IAQ) through indoor vertical greening. Proceedings of the World Congress on Engineering. Volume II. pp.2-8.

WHO, 2016. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/

Wolverton, B.C., Johnson, A. and Bounds, k. 1989. Interior landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement, final report. Stennis Space Center, NASA, Mississippi.

Wood, R.A., Orwell, R.L., Tarran, J., Torpy, F. and Burchett, M. 2002. Potted-plant/growth media interactions and capacities for removal of volatiles from indoor air. Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology, 77(1): 120-129.

Yang, D.S, Pennisi S.V., Son K.C. and Kays, S. J. 2009. Screening indoor plants for volatile organic pollutant removal efficiency. HortScience. 44(5): 1377"1381.

About Author / Additional Info:
I am pursuing my Ph.D. in Floriculture and Landscaping from IARI, New Delhi