On this blog, we usually like to focus on the edible advantages of plants, but even culinary-minded folk such as ourselves can appreciate houseplants that clean air! Even NASA has studied the incredible purifying effect that green, growing things have on indoor air quality. As you know, plants create all of the oxygen in our atmosphere as a by-product of photosynthesis. Every lungful of clean, fresh air is a little gift from a plant that itself gratefully breathes in the carbon dioxide that we exhale. It’s a wonderful symbiotic cycle that you can bring right into your home! Certain plants might very well also act as natural air purifiers. They all function as wonderful and beautifying additions to the household.
Which houseplants clean air most effectively?
There are several plants that remove unpleasant organic compounds from indoor air. Not only will they freshen your air, but they’ll spruce your place up, too!
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp)
Image credit: phoenixflowershops.com
The Peace Lily is one of the most unique and attractive flowers you’re likely to find indoors. Thriving in shade and partial sunlight, it’s a good pick for a space near a window in a living-room or kitchen. However, in addition to its impressive aesthetics, Peace Lily filters an impressive array of toxins out of the air.
This beautiful, delicate-looking plant is surprisingly tough on the nastiest of poisons, from formaldehyde, a carcinogen which is found in particleboard and plywood, to ammonia, which can infiltrate your home in the guise of a cleaning product. Peace Lily will also filter xylene, a cleaning agent and paint thinner; benzene and toluene, which are usually found in gasolene; and tricholorethelyne, which often appears in paint. Be aware, however, that Peace Lily itself is poisonous to most pets, so make sure you keep your domestic animal away from it! Buy Peace Lily [HERE].
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
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There’s a wonderful alternate name for this plant: Mother-In-Law’s Tongue. Whoever first called it that must have had an interesting family! Snake Plant’s leaves grow directly from its base. They are tall, stiff, and pointed, with striking yellow stripes running up the sides. This plant happens to be very resilient, making it a good first choice for new plant parents. Like Peace Lily, Snake Plant is an overachiever, filtering formaldehyde, tricholorethelyne, benzene, toluene, and xylene. Buy Snake plant [HERE].
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Image credit: skonahem.com
Ivy requires a little extra attention if you want to grow it inside, but it has some great tradeoffs: not only can it look spectacular, but it acts as a natural indoor air purifier too! Much like the Peace Lily, English Ivy filters formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene out of the air. If you have a new rug, this plant might be a good pick: formaldehyde often shows up in carpet dyes. Buy English Ivy [HERE].
Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
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For a plant with such a regal name, the Lady Palm really gets down to business! It takes a little while for this plant to get large, and when it does, it is tree-like, with a woody stem and large, frilly, dramatic fronds. It also filters a great deal of ammonia, which not only appears in cleaners, but also in dye and fabric. Lady Palm will also act against formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Use a big pot for this one and put it in a place where it will be the center of attention! Buy Lady palm [HERE].
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Image credit: siewie.pl
Almost everyone loves Boston Ferns. They’re gorgeous, easy to care for, and they are happy to clean the formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from your air. Better yet, Boston Ferns are safe for cats to eat, unlike many other decorative plants. You’ll need fairly humid conditions for Boston Ferns to thrive, since they prefer damp, nutrient-rich soil. Buy Boston Fern [HERE].
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
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Weeping Fig is a ficus, known for thriving in good sunlight, growing beautifully in warm temperatures, and needing the occasional pruning when grown indoors. However, it’s also a remarkable plant that improves indoor air quality dramatically, slurping up formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Remember, Weeping Fig will get as big as you let it grow, so if you have a large space, this could be just the air-cleansing tree for you! Buy Weeping Fig [HERE].
Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
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Like the Lady Palm, the Areca Palm is a houseplant that purifies indoor air naturally. A light-happy species, this lovely plant needs little water as it removes xylene and toluene from the air. The upward swoop of its fronds has earned it the nickname “butterfly palm.” Believe it or not, this exotic, toxin-fighting beauty was once an endangered species! Buy Areca Palm [HERE].
Rubber Fig (Ficus elastica)
Image credit: floradies.sk
Like other ficus trees, the Rubber Fig will get huge if you let it grow – just be sure to re-pot it every year until you’re happy with its size. The bigger it gets, the more formaldehyde it will suck out of the air! Interestingly, this tree has a long relationship with humans. In the Meghalaya State of northeastern India, the living roots of these trees have been shaped into bridges through a cooperative effort between people and nature! Buy Rubber Fig [HERE].
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Image credit: bagy2.blogspot.com
Golden Pothos is stunning. Its leaves are a vivid green dappled with gold, and you can freely leave it to climb a trellis if you have one in your garden. There are white-dappled and light green variations, too, and all make gorgeous household additions. In addition to benzene and formaldehyde, Golden Pothos is also often used as an aquarium filter. The plant is placed on top of an aquarium and allowed to grow roots into the water. Once comfortable, it removes nitrates from the water, filtering the environment for your fishes, and for you at the same time! Buy Golden Pothos [HERE].