At one of our recent editorial meetings, a discussion about plants in the bedroom revealed two diametrically opposed camps: Love them or hate them.
Photosynthesis creates the love as the process adds oxygen and purifies the air (which is why Michelle has plants in every room). But... because plants require light to photosynthesize, at night the process apparently reverses and may cause plants to respire as humans do, emitting the dreaded carbon dioxide (this is the part that Sarah finds creepy).
How to get to the bottom of this? I asked an expert: my 15-year old son who happens to be a bit of a plant biology aficionado (go figure).
Me: Is it true that plants emit oxygen in the day and carbon dioxide at night?
Son: You know about photosynthesis and respiration right?
Me: Yes, respiration is the reverse of photosynthesis.
Son: Yes, but it’s slightly more complicated than that.
Me: How so?
Son: Well, plants respire at a slower rate than they photosynthesize, so there is actually a net gain of a few molecules of oxygen per cycle.
Me: Do you think it’s unhealthy to sleep with plants at night?
Son: (suspicions aroused) Why are you asking me these questions? Is this your way of testing me for my biology exam? I thought you were working.
So, for readers avoiding a family domestic, I have decided that it comes down to personal preference. What’s yours? Let us know in the comments below.
Above: I can't see the harm in having a few slow-growing succulents, given their Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), which allows them to take in carbon dioxide during the night and store it to use for photosynthesis the next day. Image via Old Brand New Blog.
How about an indoor lemon tree in the bedroom? See "DIY: Potted Indoor Citrus Trees."
Above: Alexa likes the way these plants on the windowsill add cheer to a children's bedroom in a summer house in Söderfors, Sweden. For more, see Simple Scandi Children's Room.
What plants look good in a bedroom? See "Indoor Lemon Tree (I'll Take Two)."
Above: For some, one plant in the bedroom is enough; they draw the line at more. What do you think—can you have too many? Image via Fresh Home.
(N.B.: Whatever side of the debate you favor, we all agree that plants in the rest of the house can only be a good thing. See 915 images of Plants as Decor in our Gallery or rooms and spaces.)