IPOH, June 14 — It has been widely claimed that the viral snake plants are good for improving indoor air quality which has prompted many to include them as part of their interior decoration.
In an interview with Bernama, chemist, Dr. Fatimah Salim expressed concern that growing the plant which scientifically known as Sansevieria Trifasciata indoor could lead to microorganism multiplication that could affect the health of certain groups.
She explained that soil is the most conducive place for microorganisms to thrive due to its high organic, inorganic, and mineral content.
“Soil contains different types of microorganism such as bacteria, algae, fungus, protozoa, actinomycetes and ciliata.
“A single gramme of soil may contain 10 billions of microorganism cells, especially around the plant roots (rhizosphere).
“That’s why the soil should not be kept indoor as it may be harmful especially to those with a suppressed immune system because they can be easily affected by the presence of this microorganism,” said the research fellow at the Atta-ur-Rahman Institute for Natural Product Discovery, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Puncak Alam campus.
Dr. Fatimah said for those who wish to grow plants indoors, there are alternatives to using soil, which include lightweight expanded clay aggregate (Leca), coconut coir, padi husks, a form of volcanic glass known as perlite and the use of hydroponics method.
“We can also just use water, but it must be changed regularly to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and reduce the survival ability of the microorganism.
“Microorganism activities can be traced by the presence of foul odouror moss coating on the submerged part of the plants,” she added.
The National Poison Centre on June 7, through its official Facebook page advised the public, especially those with small children, to be cautious of the plant as it contains an active substance known as Saponin, which can cause vomitting, diarrhea and rashes if consumed.
A Bernama check at a nursery in Jalan Kuala Kangsar here found that there was a high demand for the plants after it went viral following claims that it could be a source of natural air purifier.
NCS Craft Garden Lanskap owner Meizi Chong said this required her to get more supplies of the plants from Cameron Highland.
Chong, 31, said she has been selling the plant since the nursery started operation three years ago and due to the high demand, she could sell up to 10 pots of snake plant per day.
“Growing the plant, which is sold at RM8 to RM40 depending on the size, is easy as you just need to water it for at least twice a week,” she said.