Plants for the Indoors

Six Indoor Plants that Clean the Air in Your Home

Houseplants
Houseplants (Photo credit: F. D. Richards)

Do you have any plants in your home? Typically, the indoor air quality is significantly worse than it is outside.  There are several steps you can take to greatly improve the indoor air quality in your home. One way this can be done, is by having several indoor plants that clean the air and reduce toxins.

Several years ago NASA studied houseplants and their ability to purify the air in indoor spaces. They found that certain plants were better at filtering the air and removing volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) than others.

Why Indoor Plants that Clean the Air Improve Health

Not only are indoor plants beneficial for increasing oxygen levels in our homes, they have also been found to reduce the toxins in the air we are breathing.

The air in our homes has been shown to contain harmful toxins which ultimately end up in our bodies. Whether the toxins are from building materials, paint, out-gassing carpets, dust, or flame retardants, the levels of these toxins in the air can be reduced.

These plants can reduce many air pollutants including formaldehyde, microbial pathogens, benzene and microbial pathogens.

How Many Should You Have in Your Home

According to NASA it is recommended that you have about 15 to 18 of these plants in your home (this was recommended for a 1800 sq foot home). Remember to also place at least one plant in your bedroom, preferably more.

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, these indoor plants that clean the air are very easy to take care for and require little work.

The Six Plants that Clean the Air

These plants are the most beneficial for improving  indoor air quality. You should be able to find all of these plants locally.

 1. Aloe

aloe

Aloe plants are very beneficial for increasing oxygen levels in your home. They have also been found to absorb formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide. According to Earthship, one pot of aloe is equivalent to nine biological air cleaners.

2. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

spider plant

Spider plants are able to perform photosynthesis under minimal lighting. They aid in absorbing toxins in the air including formaldehyde, styrene, carbon monoxide, and benzene. One spider plant is able to effectively filter a room of 200 square feet.

3. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

english ivy

English ivy is another great indoor plant that removes toxins. This plant has been shown to reduce 60% of airborne mold and 58% of airborne feces after being placed in a room for only 6 hours!

4. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ’Mauna Loa’)

plant 2

Having a peace lily in your home greatly reduces the chemical toxins in the air. Peace lily plants filter out harmful benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

5. Snake Plant or mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata‘Laurentii’)

snake plant

This indoor plant that cleans the air is just about indestructible, if your looking to start out with easy to care for plant, this would be the one to choose. Snake plants aid in removing toxins from the air and require little to no lighting.

6. Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

plant 3

Rubber plants excel at removing  toxins from the air, particularly formaldehyde. These plants require minimal lighting and also easy to care for. Note: the leaves can be toxic, so if you have any pets in your home, be careful.

Want More Variety?

NASA also listed the following plants as beneficial for improving the indoor air quality in homes. These plants may be more difficult to find locally, but if you come across any of these plants, be sure to pick one up!

-Golden pothos or Devil’s ivy (Scindapsus aures or Epipremnum aureum)
-Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
-Bamboo palm or reed palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
-Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium, syn.Philodendron cordatum)
-Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum, syn.Philodendron selloum)
-Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)
-Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
-Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans Massangeana)
-Janet Craig dracaena (Dracaena deremensis Janet Craig
-Warneck dracaena (Dreacaena dermenisis Waneckii)
-Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

Sources:
Photo source: 12, 3, 45
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MORE SPECIFIC:  

Top ten plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air

1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

Also called the “Butterfly Palm”. An upright houseplant that is somewhat vase shaped. Specimen plants can reach 10 to 12 foot in height. Prefers a humid area to avoid tip damage. Requires pruning. When selecting an Areca palm look for plants with larger caliber trunks at the base of the plant. Plants that have pencil thin stems tend to topple over and are quite difficult to maintain.

2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

Also called the “Lady Palm”, this durable palm species adapts well to most interiors. The Rhapis are some of the easiest palms to grow, but each species has its own particular environment and culture requirements. The “Lady Palm” grows slowly, but can grow to more than 14′ in height with broad clumps often having a diameter as wide as their height.

3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

Also called the “reed palm”, this palm prefers bright indirect light. New plants will lose of some interior foliage as they acclimate to indoor settings. This plant likes to stay uniformly moist, but does not like to be over-watered or to sit in standing water. Indoor palms may attract spider mites which can be controlled by spraying with a soapy solution.

4. Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)

Grows very well indoors, preferring semi-sun lighting. Avoid direct sunlight, especially in summer. Young plants may need to be supported by a stake. The Ficus grows to 8’ with a spread of 5’. Wear gloves when pruning, as the milky sap may irritate the skin. Water thoroughly when in active growth, then allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering again. In winter keep slightly moist.

5. Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

The Dracaena grows to 10’ with a spread of 3’. Easy to grow, these plants do best in bright indirect sunlight coming from the east/west. They can adapt to lower light levels if the watering is reduced. Keep the soil evenly moist and mist frequently with warm water. Remove any dead leaves. Leaf tips will go brown if the plant is under watered but this browning may be trimmed.

6. Philodendron (Philodendron sp.)

One of the most durable of all house plants. Philodendrons prefer medium intensity light but will tolerate low light. Direct sun will burn the leaves and stunt plant growth. This plant is available in climbing and non-climbing varieties. When grown indoors, they need to be misted regularly and the leaves kept free of dust. Soil should be evenly moist, but allowed to dry between watering.

7. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

A hardy, drought-tolerant and long-lived plant, the Dwarf Date Palm needs a bright spot which is free of drafts. It grows slowly, reaching heights of 8-10’. The Dwarf Date Palm should not be placed near children’s play areas because it has sharp needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem. These can easily penetrate skin and even protective clothing.

8. Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”)

The Ficus Alii grows easily indoors, and resists insects. It prefers a humid environment and low to medium light when grown indoors. The Ficus Aliii should not be placed near heating or air conditioning vents, or near drafts because this could cause leaf loss. Soil should be kept moist but allowed to dry between watering.

9. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)

The Boston fern grows to 4’ in height with a spread up to 5’. It has feathery ferns which are best displayed as a hanging plant. It prefers bright indirect sunlight. Keep the soil barely moist and mist frequently with warm water. This plant is prone to spider mites and whitefly which can be controlled using a soapy water spray. Inspect new plants for bugs before bringing them home.

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”)

The Peace Lily is a compact plant which grows to a height of 3’ with a 2’ spread. This hardy plant tolerates neglect. It prefers indirect sunlight and high humidity, but needs to be placed out of drafts. For best results, the Peace Lily should be thoroughly watered, then allowed to go moderately dry between waterings. The leaves should be misted frequently with warm water.

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GUIDELINES ON WHAT TO DO

  • Choose one 10- to 12-inch potted plant per 100 square foot of your home for the most effective air purification.
  • Cross-reference several care guides to check for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Because common names can very, be sure to cross-reference the botanical name of any plant you get to ensure it will do the job you need it to do.
  • Consider where you might place your plants and the amount of sun they will receive to ensure your plant will thrive in that area.
  • Make note of the water needed and write it on a calendar so that you can keep the watering schedules balanced.
  • Periodically dust the leaves of each plant with a damp cloth to ensure proper absorption of air particles and toxins.
  • Keep their soil replenished with rich compost or compost tea. Avoid non-organic or synthetic fertilizers.
  • Whenever possible, capture rainwater for your plants. All types of houseplants thrive best with natural sources of water.
  • Please note that these houseplants are good for purifying air, but that doesn’t mean they are safe for pets or kids who like to put things in their mouth.  Go to this link for more information:  http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants-na
Moreover,  Be careful about what type of soil you bring into your home.  Some plants, or how they are cared for, might create a mold issue. Some plants may also have been treated with pesticides.   Do your research, ask  lots of questions so that you can enjoy these plants.

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From a Yellow Canary of the 21st century, living in our disabling biosphere

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