More than 3,500 plants keep air clean for travelers at Tampa International Airport

More than 3,500 plants at Tampa International Airport help clean the air for travelers passing through the terminals. 

"Plants help scrub those contaminants and produce fresher oxygen," said Chris Cecco, the lead horticulturist at TPA. 

Cecco, Jesus Perez and Kristina Zakarkaite all spent years learning about plants before coming to work at the airport.  

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Zakarkaite said most of the questions she gets are from travelers asking directions, but some of them are interested in the plants.

"The biggest compliment we get is ‘are the plants fake?’" Cecco laughed. 

All the plants are real and polished with natural oil. The airport even has its own greenhouse, so they always have the right plant for the right place in the terminal. 

Many plants have a QR code so that you can use your phone to access a website with more information about plants in the airport. 

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One of the biggest problems they have is with people who dump their drinks into plants.

"When you pour something sugary into the plants, it stops how water moves through the plants," said Zakarkaite. 

She said sometimes doused plants can be saved, and sometimes they can’t. They ask that you be kind to the plants that help clean the air at the airport.