Best indoor plants to beat the summer heat


Indoor plants do much more than enhancing the décor of a home. Plants improve the quality of air, by releasing oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants found in homes. Did you know plants also help regulate the temperature? Find out how plants do that and what are the best indoor plants that you can bring home.

Winter is on the wane, it's almost on its way out and very soon we'll have to brace ourselves against the harsh heat of the summer months. With the mercury crossing the 40°C mark, Indian summers are gruelling, especially in the plains. The searing heat penetrates solid concrete structures and can be felt indoors as well. However, keeping indoor plants can provide some respite from the heat, by bringing down the temperature, by a few degrees.

How do plants bring down the temperature

Apart from regulating the temperature and providing fresher air, plants have the ability to enrich the living area, filling the space with attractive foliage, which can have a pleasant effect that cools and calms.



Have you stood under a tree and noticed how cool the shade was? Have you observed that houses surrounded by trees are cooler than those without tree cover? Have you walked or driven past a green stretch of land and found the temperature dip. It's the plants at work. All plants release moisture and when the weather is hot this helps to bring down the ambient temperature.

Plants use air for their natural processes - they absorb the air in their immediate surrounding and release moisture to stay cool and cause the surroundings to become cooler. This process of the plants releasing moisture into the environment is called transpiration. It is like perspiration in the humans.

Due to the crunch of space, planting trees might not be a viable option for most home dwellers. But bringing potted plants into the home is a good alternative. Potted plants function in much the same manner as huge trees. So, bring home a few plants suitable for the indoor environment and stay cool through the torrid summer months.

Indoor plants will improve the air quality in your home, absorbing toxins and giving out oxygen. You will breathe clean, fresh air and feel rejuvenated. They will also cool the ambient air, inside your home, making summers a bit more tolerable.

So, which plants can you bring indoors to fight the summer heat and spruce up the setting?

Bringing in plants into your home is not as simple as it may appear. Plants have different requirements and not all plants are suited to the indoor environment. Some plants do well in pots others cannot be grown in containers. Some plants need to be watered daily, while others can survive with an alternate day watering schedule. Some plants need full sun; some others can survive with indirect sunlight. Therefore, a careful selection of indoor plants is imperative, before deciding to bring them into your home.

Crotons

All types of crotons can be grown indoors. They are exceptionally resilient and hardy plants that are ideal for the indoor environment. Crotons produce gorgeous foliage of brightly coloured leaves in shades of green, yellow, purple, pink, orange and red. Croton leaves can best be described as tough and firm.

So, why not place a croton plant to liven up a dull corner in your home. Croton plants with healthy foliage can improve the look of your home. Besides adding colour to a room, they will also clean and cool the air.

There is a huge variety of crotons to choose from, such as the Corkscrew, Red Bravo, Sloppy Painter, Stoplight and Gold Dust etc. They are all beauties and put on a vivid show of beautiful hues.

The plant featured below is the Oak Leaf croton. Look at its stunning leaves and spectacular play of colours. Imagine the striking dimension it can add to your home. The plant is named after the oak tree because its leaves are shaped like those of the oak tree. The colours on the leaves run from shades of green to yellow, orange, red and bronze.

Oak leaf Croton with beautiful foliage

The Red Iceton is another splendid variety suitable for the indoors. Its big oval leaves, with pointed tips, as seen in the image below, are very attractive. The croton puts up an arresting display of colours. New leaves are in shades of green and turning a golden yellow as they age and eventually taking on shades of pink and red.

Red Iceton Croton indoor plant

Croton plants are best suited for the Indian tropical climate. The plants should ideally be placed near windows that get ample sunlight. Windows in the south, east and west would be practical choices. Keep in mind that the leaves of the croton tend to turn green if they do not receive enough sunlight. If a window is not available then shift the plants into the balcony or any other sunny spot in the morning or evening or weekly once. Remember, artificial light works as well. If you can light up the corner with a bulb, the plants will respond well.

Plants getting sunlight

These plants like a humid environment, so need to be watered daily. The plant would flourish if the leaves are sprayed with water.

Ficus

A study done by NASA identified the ficus plant as an effective natural air purifier that removes toxic chemicals like benzene, xylene, formaldehyde and toluene etc., from the air. Also known as the weeping fig it makes an exquisite ornamental plant. Like every other plant, the ficus also releases moisture and cools its surroundings.

Different varieties of ficus, in varying sizes, are available in plant nurseries. The Island Dwarf ficus in the attached image grows into a full shrub, with small, smooth, deep green leaves. With a little care, the plant can be trained into a bonsai. Its thick trunk and branches and small-sized leaves, make it a good choice for a bonsai.

Beautiful ficus bonsai a natural air purifier

Ficus plants come in a range of colours, shapes and sizes, and all types can be brought indoors as houseplants. Taller varieties are ideal to accentuate corners, in the living room or the entrance.

The ficus is a hardy plant and doesn't need much pampering. It grows well indoors if ample natural light is available. Place it near a natural source of light and see the plant thrive and cool your home.

Peperomia

There are hundreds of varieties of the Peperomia with some grown in baskets as hanging plants. The plant displayed on this page is the Baby Rubber Tree Plant. If you look at the leaves you'll notice that they are thick and plump like those of a succulent. It is an eye-catching plant with fleshy, rounded, smooth and glossy leaves. Mature plants grow no taller than a foot and a half high and are perfect for setting on side tables.

Peperomia ideal for indoor gardening

They are easy to grow in small containers and do not require much care. Yes, light is a requirement, but that is essential for every plant. The plant does not need frequent watering and survives neglect.

The other varieties of the peperomia good for indoor planting are the obtuifolia and the caperata.

Pothos

This is one of the most common indoor plants in Indian homes. Commonly known as the Money plant, the myth has it that growing the plant can increase the wealth. And that lush green money plant growing in your home is a symbol of wealth. People also believe that a cutting of the plant should be stolen from someone's porch and planted at their own home, to bring in luck. These are but superstitions. Pothos also goes by other names such as Pothos Ivy and Devil's Ivy.

The main reason that it makes a good indoor plant is that it can bear lower light conditions, cool and hot temperatures and low levels of humidity and is very easy to care for. The plant is a creeper and can be trained to grow on walls, trellises, moss sticks and in hanging baskets. It can be grown in soil or planted in the water.

The plant produces lovely heart-shaped variegated leaves in shades of green, white and golden yellow. It is a very hardy plant and is great for the indoors. Apart from ridding the environment of toxins like formaldehyde and monoxide, the plant cools and refreshes the air.

Pothos or money plant makes good indoor plants

Hawaiin Umbrella Tree Bonsai


The Hawaiian Umbrella Tree plant is an extremely easy plant to care for. It is a low-maintenance plant with a minimal light requirement. Set it in a corner of your home that gets little light and it will survive. The plant also likes warm climate, so it is well suited for hot Indian summers. It is a stunning plant, especially when the canopy is covered in leaves. The plant absorbs the heat and cleanses the air and keeps the indoors fresh and cool.

The plant below was grafted. It is not one of the best specimens of the plant, as it is still being trained and shaped into a bonsai.

Hawain Umbrells Plant Bonsai

Benefits of indoor plants

Indoor plants with leaves in vivid hues serve to accentuate your home, by bringing in colour, dimension and freshness. Careful selection and placement of houseplants can add an element of drama into the indoors. They also purify the air within your home.

Indoor plants reduce carbon dioxide levels and improve oxygen levels
  • They absorb pollutants that leech from paint, varnish, dyes, chemical cleansers etc., within the home
  • They increase the moisture content in the air, thereby keeping the temperature down
  • Plants lessen airborne dust levels




  • Care for indoor plants

    • Fertilise and water plants regularly. Whenever possible use homemade organic fertilisers
    • Indoor plants can attract bugs and the best way to deal with them is to use herbal pesticides to keep the pests at bay
    • Provide a source of light, by placing them near windows and balconies
    • Plant sap can be poisonous, so place the plants out of reach of children and pets

    When are you adding indoor plants to your décor? Do you already have plants in the house? Do use plants to cool your home? Which are your favourite indoor plants? Share your responses in the comment section.


    Article by Juana
    Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

    Follow Juana or read 481 articles authored by Juana

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