Plants are not just decorative, they can also clean and purify the air in our homes, and act as anti-pollutants. Houseplants can reduce components of indoor air pollution, even volatile organic compounds such as benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene. Plants also reduce airborne microbes and increase humidity.
Some indoor plants are more effective than others, so this article is dedicated to these magical house-cleaning air purifiers for your home and/or work place. Also included are illustrations of each of the miracle plants, as well as basic plant care.
Researchers from NASA and other organizations recommend at least 15-18 good-sized plants for a house or apartment of 1800 square feet or 167 square meters.
- 1. Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)
- 2. Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)
- 3. Epipremnum aureum (Devil’s Ivy)
- 4. Syngonium podophyllum (Arrowhead Plant)
- 5. Hedera helix (English Ivy)
- 6. Philodendron (Heartleaf or Elephant Ear Philodendron)
- 7. Gerbera Jamesonii (Gerbera Daisy)
- 8. Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig)
- 9. Dracaena marginata (Red-edged dracaena)
- 10. Chrysanthemum (Pot Mum)
Spathiphyllum, also called Peace Lily, acts as a general air cleanser of many environmental pollutants, and will even filter contaminants such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. It cleans best at one plant per 10m2.
Plant care: Easy. The plant will even survive being neglected at times. No direct sunlight to avoid burns. It can also handle a shadier spot. Watering approximately once per week, only when the soil is dry. Too much water, too much heating and too much light can all harm the Peace Lily.
Spider plant is a popular and commonly used house plant. It grows from a central rosette and produces new shoots, branched stolons with small white flowers, as well as baby plantlets.
Plant care: Very easy, thrives under nearly any conditions. The plant will even survive being neglected at times.
Epipremnum aureum, also called Devils Ivy, or Golden Pathos, is an excellent air cleansing plant. It is however toxic when consumed, for example by pets, so care should be taken in order to avoid this. Its decorative marbled leaves and easy maintenance make it very popular amongst indoor plants.
Plant care: Golden Pathos is a hardy plant which requires very little care. Should be watered only when the soil feels dry. No direct sunlight. It can stand bright light, but the best results are achieved with a medium indirect light.
Syngonium podophyllum , also called Arrowhead plant, or American evergreen, is the most commonly cultivated species of the Syngonium genus. The plant, when eaten, is poisonous, so don’t eat it..
Plant care: No direct sunlight, allow to dry in between waterings. Daily misting during the dry winter months, or maintain higher humidity levels in other ways.
This robust plant is the ideal companion for pet owners, as it efficiently filters formaldehyde aerosols and fecal particles from the air. There are many different species of the English Ivy, differing by color, shape, and size. The plant is also poisonous.
Plant care: Partial shade to bright light, but no direct sunlight. Robust plant which grows so well and easily that is considered a weed in some countries.
The two most efficient kinds of philadendron are the Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron scandens `oxycardium’) and the Elephant Ear Philodendron (Philodendron domesticum). Philadendrons are excellent at removing formaldehyde, especially so at higher concentrations. It should also be noted that philadendrons are poisonous.
Plant care: Philodendrons prefer a partial shade and a well drained soil.
The Gerbera is a well known decorative plant or cut flower, but its air filtering properties are less known. It is most suitable for removing benzene (which is a well known carcinogen) and trichloroethylene from the air.
Plant care: It prefers bright light and a well drained soil. Gerbera blooms repeatedly, from mid-spring until fall.
In its natural habitat the small fruit of the Weeping Fig is the food of choice for many birds. In any indoor scenario, the Ficus benjamina will effectively filter indoor air toxins.
Plant care: The ficus can handle a partial shade, but also really likes bright sunlight. The soil should be well drained. Moderate watering. The plant can be sensitive to changing conditions, so it doesn’t much like being moved.
The Dracaena marginata removes not only benzene and formaldehyde from the air, but also xylene and toluene Other air filtering Dracaenas include Warneck dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’), Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’), Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragans ‘Massangeana’)
Plant care: It really likes bright light, but under no circumstances direct sunlight. Better a little too little light than a little too much. It is similar with water. Too much water can make its root decay. It will tolerate irregular watering rhythms and dry soil much better than too much water.
Well known as a decorative flower, the Chrysanthemum is an amazing plant, which has not only medicinal purposes but is also very good at filtering a variety of polluting compounds from the air.
Plant care: Not as easy as most of the other mentioned air purifiers. It likes a bright, but indirect sunlight. Watering with warm (not too cold) water. Allow the soil to dry in between waterings. Fertilizing is needed before the blooming period. Faded blooms should be removed to prolong flowering. Good air circulation is important.
Other air cleaning plants include Christmas cactus, Sansevieria Laurentii (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue), Philodendron selloum (selloum philodendron), Aglaonema modestum (Chinese evergreen), Chamaedorea sefritzii (bamboo or reed palm), Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant), Saintpaulia (African Violets) and Aloe barbabensis (Aloe Vera).