Sucking It Up at the Oxygen Bar

January 21, 2009 | By | Comments (5)

Stevefriends We all know plants produce oxygen, but thrusting my nose into a philodendron never felt refreshing. Well, last weekend I experienced my first oxygen bar and sucked in so much of this life-giving gas that my body threatens to spontaneously combust.

I, along with Southern Living colleagues Gene Bussell and Rebecca Reed, were attending the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE) at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It’s about the best place in the country to go to see amazing displays of flowering and foliage tropical plants and learn about the hot new plants. In later posts, I’ll tell you more about the sensational plants I saw — bromeliads, succulents, orchids, Tillandsias (yes, I know they’re bromeliads too), acres of anthuriums, and a variegated spineless pineapple — but first want to let you in on a novel GREEN program called “O2 for You.”

photo: “I’m not dying. I’m just gaining focus.” SB

Good Clean Houseplants

Created by Costa Farms of Goulds, Florida, one of the country’s foremost growers of foliage and bedding plants, O2 for You seeks to raise public awareness of the unhealthy air filling most homes (especially after a big chili dinner) and what we can do about it.

It’s as simple as this — houseplants absorb and neutralize harmful, volatile chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene that paints, caulking, carpeting, upholstery, dry cleaning, and other common household materials release into indoor air. Areca palm, lady palm, bamboo palm, rubber plant, ‘Janet Craig’ dracaena, ficus ‘Alii,’ peace lily, and corn plant are among the best at doing this.

Oh yeah, these beneficent tropicals do another essential thing. They absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) and in return release O2 for you to breathe. The Grump breathes O2 every day. What can I say, it’s an addiction.

Costa wants people to put more houseplants in their homes (one plant per every 100 square-feet would clean the air nicely and also hide those dirty clothes you leave lying around) and they’ve come up with some clever approaches. For example, in hospitals in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Miami, new mothers will take home more than babies. They’ll also receive a free houseplant to deliver clean air to the newbie. In addition, Costa supplies houseplants to the producers of TV’s “Extreme Makeover” to get people used to seeing more plants indoors. Most importantly, they contacted me, so I could tell you how important it is to purify your essence with good, clean oxygen.

O2bar Oooooh — That’s Good Oxygen

The undisputed highlight of my TPIE experience was nosing up to my first oxygen bar, courtesy of Costa. If you’ve never experienced real O2 for You, here’s how it works. On the bar sit 6 or 7 lighted beakers of aromatic liquid through which oxygen bubbles. You insert tubes into your nose just like the ones they put on critical patients in the ICU and inhale different flavors of scented oxygen.

Each scent is supposed to produce a different reaction. For example, spearmint gives you “focus.” Gardenia gives you “total recall.” Vanilla is “calming.” And cinnamon is an “aphrodisiac.”

No way I’m doing cinnamon. My wife wasn’t with me, so no good could come of that. More importantly, she has total recall even without gardenia-scented oxygen.

Fortunately, Rebecca made sure I got a new set of breathing tubes before I did any oxygen. I can only imagine the number of diseases other people who weren’t so circumspect were taking home. If I were them, I’d make sure the last flavor I tried was “Penicillin.”



    Recreational oxygen is very popular for enegizing and relaxing. The one at is a very safe ‘recreational’ oxygen unit for spas or home use.

    July 2, 2016 at 7:32 pm
  2. Grumpy Gardener

    That’s good to know. Thanks. It makes the Grump feel good that his rants occasionally help somebody. If you’re not really into houseplants that need a lot of attention, check out snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata), also called mother-in-law’s tongue. A friend of mine told me that when he was in college, he checked out of his dorm room at the end of the spring semester and left a snake plant in it. Nobody entered the room for next 4 months. When he returned in the fall, the snake plant looked just fine.
    Other “survivor houseplants” that take low light and not much water include ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum), cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), dumb cane (Dieffenbachia), philodendron, pothos (Epipremnum aureum), and rubber plant (Ficus elastica). They’re all widely available. Grumpy

    January 25, 2009 at 12:32 pm
  3. Jean

    Grump…you do look rather happy. Are you sure its just the oxygen?

    January 24, 2009 at 6:54 am
  4. Helen @ Gardening With Confidence

    Now I’ve seen it all.

    January 23, 2009 at 7:34 pm
  5. Annette

    I let my houseplants die in 2008 when my father was hospitalized for 8 months. Your post has inspired me to buy a few this weekend.

    January 22, 2009 at 8:17 pm

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