Plants as Biofilters

Tent, Landscaping,

Have you noticed how much I love ? These sweet little living worlds are a fun way to bring your garden therapy indoors and a beautiful way to display your favorite houseplants. I love to add a few decorative elements to my terrariums along with the plants growing inside. Some of my favorite additions include reindeer moss, polished river stones, fairy lights, and these adorable little clay mushrooms. They look natural while adding just a touch of whimsy to make my terrariums that much more enchanting.

DIY Clay Mushrooms for Terrariums

For these decorative mushrooms I used air-dry clay, but you could also make them with polymer clay if you prefer.

Clay mushrooms in a planter with assorted succulents

Materials

  • in your preferred colors?I used a metallic copper color, white, and teal
  • Wire cutters
  • 16-guage wire
  • Small paint brush

Terrarium with clay mushrooms, tropical plants, and fairy lights

Make it!

First, set up your workspace. You will need a clean, dry surface to roll and work your clay on. I like to keep a paintbrush and jar of water beside me when working with clay so that I can brush a little water onto the clay to fill in cracks as I go.

materials for making clay mushroom ornaments

Begin by working a small chunk of clay in your hands to soften it, and then roll it out into a skinny snake shape. This will become the stem of your mushroom. Dab a little water onto the clay snake with your paintbrush to prevent and fill in any cracks.

roll out clay into snake shapes for the stems

When your mushroom stem is the length and width that you want, measure and cut a piece of wire that is about two to four inches longer than the clay stem. Starting at the bottom of the stem, gently poke your wire into the center of the clay and feed it up through the stem vertically so that the wire goes almost up to the top of the stem. You may have to reshape the stem around the wire a bit as you go.

add wire to clay

Next, make the mushroom cap. To do this, start by rolling a small ball of clay, then push your thumbs into the top of the ball and carefully press the sides to flatten and shape into a bowl.

Scratch some small crosshatch marks into the inside of the cap and the top of the stem where you want the two pieces to join. You can use a piece of wire to create the crosshatch marks. Use the paintbrush to dab a little water onto the crosshatch marks on both the stem and the cap, then press the two pieces together firmly, crosshatched area to crosshatched area.

making clay mushrooms

Lay the assembled mushroom out to dry on a clean surface covered in plastic.

When the mushroom is fully dry, you can paint it any color you like. I used a metallic coppery color with white and teal details, but I think these mushrooms would also look lovely with white-dotted bright red caps, in vibrant rainbow colors, or muted brown and beige tones for a more natural look.

finished clay mushroom terrarium ornaments

Add a coat of pottery sealer and you?re done! Plant these sweet little fungi in your favorite terrariums and houseplants.

Terrarium lit with fairy lights and filled with tropical plants and clay mushrooms

More Fun with Terrariums:

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If you haven?t yet tried preserved lemons, now is the time. Primarily used in Moroccan cooking, this unique salty citrus flavour quickly makes an amazing dish out of chicken or fish and adds lift to saut?ed vegetables or beans. This recipe has only two ingredients, so choose them wisely. Organic lemons are the only ones I ever use for preserving as the rind will have less junk (pesticides, etc.) on it.How to Make Preserved Lemons

Ingredients: 

  • 12 organic lemons
  • coarse Kosher salt
Primarily used in Moroccan cooking, preserved lemons have a unique salty citrus flavor

Directions:

1. Scrub the lemons under running water with a vegetable or nail brush to get the rind nice and clean. Then cut the stems and ends off the lemons.

scoring lemons from How to Preserve Lemons

2. Score each lemon into a star: start by making a cut through the lemon from the top down to almost the bottom, but don?t slice all the way through. Leave enough remaining so that the lemon stays attached. Cut again twice more, to get a star shape.

If you haven't yet tried preserved lemons, now is the time

3. Pack the insides of the star with lots of coarse salt. Don?t be afraid of the salt it?s not going to become overly salty if you use too much. Just go for it!

This recipe for preserved lemons has only two ingredients, so choose them wisely

4. Now pack the lemons into clean, sterilized jars. Really squish them in there so that the juices start to cover the lemons. Add extra fresh lemon juice if you need to top each jar up so that all the  lemons are completely covered. Keep squishing down the lemons over the next couple of days to get more juices out and covering the fruit.

Easy to make preserved lemons add a whole other flavor to chicken or fiah

5. Let sit for a month in a cold place like the fridge until the rinds soften.

To use the preserved lemons, rinse under cold running water and remove the pulp. The pulp can be squeezed for it?s juice, but generally the rind is what is used. Slice or dice the rind to add to recipes like this one: . Yum!

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Have you heard all the buzz about how indoor plants purify the air in your home? It?s true that plants are biofilters, a term often used for systems that use plants or microorganisms to clean air in order to combat pollution and the presence of harmful toxins. This technology is usually used on a large scale for wastewater treatment facilities and chemical plants, but any system that filters out toxins is a biological filter ? and that includes plants, animals, insects, and even you! Does that mean that all the microbes, pollution, and viruses are filtered out of the air if you have some houseplants? There are many myths and claims out there about what houseplants can do for your air quality, so I did a little research on the truth about houseplants and air quality.

Do Indoor Plants Really Purify the Air?

Plants as Biofilters

The past couple of summers have been terrible for forest fires here in British Columbia. I?m lucky enough to live in a part of the province where my home wasn?t threatened by fire, but the smoke from wildfires across the province made its way here and caused me to have lung problems, headaches, and stinging eyes. I have been so grateful to have my plants during these smoky seasons, because they make a difference in the freshness of the air, both outside in the garden and inside the house.

All of this got me thinking a lot about air quality, and how indoor air quality is often pretty bad, wildfire season or not. Even if you?re never exposed to wildfire smoke (which I hope is the case!), with technology running constantly, forced heating in the winter, and an increase in chemicals used in everyday life, there is a need more than even for air-purifying measures to be taken within the home.

Which, of course, got me thinking about plants. There?s a lot of hype out there about how indoor plants purify the air, but I wasn?t sure how much of that was true, so I did a little research of my own to learn how plants work as biofilters and how effective they really are at cleaning up airborne toxins.

Plants produce oxygen, which removes some airborne microbes, mold spores, and bacteria from the air we breathe (thanks, plants!).

In addition to producing oxygen and cleaning up the air that way, plants also use their roots to get rid of toxins. The roots actually absorb harmful toxins and convert them into nutrients, which they then use to grow. This is the ultimate in upcycling!

Do Indoor Plants Really Purify the Air?

This is probably not the first time you?ve heard that indoor plants purify the air, but did you know that houseplants can also absorb contaminants like benzene and formaldehyde? These might not sound like things that are hanging around your house, but many cosmetics, cleaning products, and cigarette smoke contain these, making them common toxins around many homes. Houseplants even absorb some harmful radiation given off by technology such as computers and cellphones, but they probably can?t absorb enough of it to significantly reduce the health risks that these technologies entail.

Peace lily indoors

Although there have been a few done to prove the effectiveness of plants at filtering air (yes, that NASA), these studies have all been done in small, sealed environments. Larger, open spaces like houses will not make it so easy for plants to purify the air quite as effectively and That being said, they certainly can?t hurt. At the very least, houseplants will remove some toxins from the air and give you a healthy dose of indoor garden therapy.

herbs growing on a window

Some indoor plants purify the air, or more accurately filter the air, more than others. Here is a list of common houseplants that draw the most toxins out of the air.

The Best Air-Filtering Houseplants

  • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ?Mauna Loa?)
  • English ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
  • Snake plant or mother-in-law?s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata?Laurentii?)
  • Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)
  • Elephant ear (Philodendron domesticum)
  • Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
  • Gerbera daisy or Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
  • Pot mum or florist?s chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)

prevent and treat fungus gnats

Adding a few (or a lot) of these low-maintenance houseplants to your home can make a difference in the quality of the air you breathe, but not as big a difference as many articles claim. They are a beautiful and welcoming addition around the house and can boost your mood, so I say the more houseplants, the better!

houseplants in a wooden frame

For more on houseplants, check out these posts:

 

 

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