12 Plants that Can Dramatically Improve Indoor Air Quality

12 Air Purifying Plants that Can Dramatically Improve Indoor Air Quality

If you are what we eat, you are also what you breathe. Fortunately, improving air quality doesn’t have to be rocket science, all thanks to these air purifying plants. 

Do plants in your home improve air quality? Well, it depends. We all know that plants are critical in sustaining life, and that’s one fact even science can’t deny. But not all plants are created equal when air filtering properties come into play.

Sad to say, toxins can be airborne culprits that could easily sneak up on you despite your healthy lifestyle, and some plants just can’t help you dodge the bullet, AKA life-threatening diseases. 

But don’t lose hope because science has a solution for us: choose the right type of greenery for your home--and yes, we have studies to back this up. In 1989, NASA has conducted a research project that confirms the integral role certain plants play in purifying the air.

What Houseplants Purify Air Best?

So what houseplants are best for cleaning the air? Basically, the leafier, the better. But if you’re not quite sure what to bring indoors, here are some of the top air purifying plants based on NASA’s Clean Air Study:

​Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

​Pros:

  • ​Pet-friendly
  • ​Filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene
  • ​Low maintenance

A five-star plant air purifier, the bamboo palm, also called areca palm or reed palm, scored high for its purifying properties. Growing as high as 4 to 12 feet, this pet-friendly plant is easy to grow and maintain.

Plant care: The bamboo palm grows best under bright, indirect light, but it can also thrive in low lighting conditions. Ideally stored in room temperatures ranging from 60 to 70°F, this plant doesn’t like sitting on standing water, so water it only when the soil gets dry and make sure to set up appropriate drainage. Also, for best results, add a bit of sand in its soil mixture and wash its leaves with a soapy solution in case of spider mite infestation.

​Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

​Pros:

  • ​Aesthetically appealing
  • ​Pet-friendly
  • ​Filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene

Looking for something pretty and dainty? Barberton daisy has you covered. Although it’s accustomed mainly for outdoor use, its potent plant air purifying properties--not to mention, its alluring flowers--make it a top indoor plant. Plus, just like the bamboo palm, this East African plant is also non-toxic to animals.

Plant care: Barberton daisy requires plenty of sunlight and water, so it’s important that you place it in an area where there is natural light. Keep its soil moist, but don’t overwater it and always drain excess water. The good news: it is not as temperature sensitive as other indoor plants, so you don’t really have to worry too much about maintaining a specific temperature.

​Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracaena marginata)

​Pros:

  • ​Filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene
  • ​Low maintenance

The red-edged dracaena is an ideal house air purifying plant even for those who aren’t born with a green thumb. An upright shrub distinct for its lavish leaves, this indoor plant also grows tiny flowers and berries, making it a colorful addition to your home interiors. Just a word of warning: although the red-edged dracaena is efficient in filtering formaldehyde and other VOC’s, it can be toxic to animals, so keep it away from your house pets if you have one.

Plant care: Taking care of a house plant doesn’t get easier than this: just place it under indirect light and keep the soil slightly moist, and voila! You’d have all the natural air-filtering properties you’d need.

​“Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

​Pros:

  • ​Filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene
  • ​Low maintenance
  • ​Long life span

If there’s Janet Jackson-slash-Craig David on our list, it’s definitely the Dracaena “Janet Craig”--a hall-of-famer when it comes to purifying trichloroethylene and other harmful toxins in the air. Efficient and easy to maintain, this super plant can live for more than a decade once properly maintained. The downside: it may contain substances that are toxic to animals once ingested.

Plant care: Although it can survive in low lighting conditions, the Dracaena “Janet Craig” grows best in room temperatures ranging from  60 to 70°F and within humidity levels over 40. Ideally stored in semi-shaded areas, this plant does not necessitate frequent watering, especially during the winter season. Just watch out for dry soil and water when needed, and your plant is good to go.

​Aloe Vera

​Pros:

  • ​Filters benzene and formaldehyde
  • ​Carries numerous health benefits
  • ​Low maintenance

Aloe vera doesn’t stop at filtering harmful toxins in the air as it also has several health claims. The gooey, clear liquid inside the plant’s leaves are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances that are widely used in the food, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries. Just set it up on your windowsill and you’d have an air purifier and a natural burn relief in one.

Plant care: Aloe vera grows best when placed in areas that allow plenty of sunlight. 

​Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')

​Pros:

  • ​Filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene
  • ​Very low maintenance

A perfect indoor plant even for beginners, the snake plant, also called mother-in-law’s tongue, is an all-around air purifier that can withstand even harsh conditions. It’s only requirement: place it under a brightly-lit area.

Plant care: The snake plant loves basking under the sun, but it can still survive even in low lighting conditions. Just be careful with over-watering the plant as it can easily rot once the soil gets overly moist.  

​Florist’s Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)

​Pros:

  • ​Filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, benzene, and ammonia
  • ​Produces colorful blooms

Only a number of indoor plants can filter all 5 harmful household chemicals, and the florist’s chrysanthemum is one of them. As if its potent air filtering property is not enough, this delicate plant also produces lovely blooms that can add life to your home. With this plant in your pot, you don’t need to go and visit your favorite flower shop.

Plant care: Also called Hardy Garden Mum, the florist’s chrysanthemum should be placed under direct sunlight. If you own any pet, consider putting it away from animals as it contains toxic substances that may cause vomiting and diarrhea once ingested. With the right soil type and a mix of adequate water and sunlight, this indoor plant can effortlessly bloom into a natural air cleanser.

​Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')

​Pros:

  • ​Filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, benzene, and ammonia
  • ​Produces white blooms

Just like the florist’s chrysanthemum, the peace lily is also a potent air purifier and humidifier. Distinct for its glossy leaves, this plant’s stiff stalks grow white flowers that are both charming and functional.

Plant care: Indirect sunlight and high humidity levels are idyllic for growing peace lily, but it can also survive in semi-shaded spots. Unlike other low maintenance plants, peace lily requires thorough watering. To allow suitable growing conditions, don’t let the soil get too dry, and mist its leaves with warm water. If possible, maintain a room temperature ranging from 60 to 75°F. 

​English Ivy (Hedera helix)

​Pros:

  • ​Filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and benzene

Looking for a plant that goes beyond air purifying? The English Ivy may just be what you need. Aside from removing VOC’s in the air, studies prove that this plant is also efficient in reducing mold in any home. As a plus, the English Ivy can also be a great addition to any indoor landscape, thanks to its rich, evergreen vines.

Plant care: Although the English Ivy is commonly used outdoors, it is actually best grown indoors since it can easily invade other outdoor plants, consequently hindering plant growth. For best results, just place it under direct sunlight, water it when necessary, and always drain its soil. 

​Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis')

​Pros:

  • ​Pet-friendly
  • ​Filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene

The Boston fern may not be as visually appealing as other indoor plants, but it is definitely an A-lister when it comes to removing formaldehyde from the air. In fact, out of all the plants tested in a research performed by Dr. Wolverton, this four-footer scored the highest in filtering formaldehyde. And yes, it’s also non-toxic to animals. Sounds great? Time to learn how to grow this super plant.

Plant care: The Boston fern does not tolerate neglect as much as other plants on our list, so you need to keep its soil in check. For one, this fern loves being in a cool environment where there is natural, indirect light. Always keep its soil moist and spray its leaves with warm water to keep its ferns healthy. To keep your plant in shape especially during winter, use a humus-rich potting soil and don’t forget to repot during spring or when the roots begin to climb through its drainage hole.

​Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

​Pros:

  • ​Filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene

The weeping fig is a plant that can be grown both indoors and outdoors. This plant purifies air by efficiently removeing airborne formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene, and it can easily grow under ideal conditions. However, if you choose to grow a pot, make sure that it is not accessible to household pets as it contains substances that can be poisonous to animals.

Plant care: The weeping fig’s leaves are sensitive to bright, direct light, so make sure that it is placed in semi-shaded areas. Ideally grown under higher temperatures and humidity levels over 50, this plant necessitates frequent watering. 

​Flamingo Lily (Anthurium andraeanum)

​Pros:

  • ​Filters formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia
  • ​Produces vibrant blooms

It’s hard not to spot a flamingo lily, especially when its red, vibrant flowers are in bloom. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to grow as other household plants as it has strict lighting and watering requirements. But if you’re up for the challenge, the flamingo lily is sure to reward you for your hard work as it is notorious in filtering harmful VOC’s.

Plant care: So why is it hard to actually maintain a flamingo lily? For one, it cannot grow in areas where humidity levels drop below 50. Its soil must always remain moist, and it loves natural, indirect light. The good news: even if it’s particularly hard to maintain, you can create ideal growing conditions indoors by investing in an air humidifier, which can help you maintain specific humidity levels within your home.     

Fighting air pollution doesn’t have to be a losing battle, especially if you start right at the comforts of your home. By taking your greenery inside and proactively looking for the right air purifying plants, you can avoid life-threatening diseases that can steal away your happiness.

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