11 Pretty Houseplants To Purify Your Indoor Air

by Debbie Wolfe

Kind of a weird question for ya: What's in your indoor air?

When you confine yourself and others in a space that receives recycled air, the air quality can be lowered in a short amount of time. In the outdoors, there are plants that help filter the air and the pollutants are dispersed over a larger area, unlike indoor air.

indoor plants that clean the airIn the 1980’s, NASA studied indoor air quality as part of their space mission program. Why? With astronauts living in airtight capsules in space, poor indoor air quality directly impacts their health. In this indoor air quality study, NASA determined that sealed spaces that hold a large number of people, such as office buildings and airplanes, can turn the air quality poor in a short amount of time. What was NASA’s solution? Houseplants.

Adding a few houseplants to your indoor space will not only add to the aesthetics of the space, it helps remove pollutants such as carbon monoxide, allergens and volatile organic compounds (VOC), which include chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. VOC have been linked to many types of health issues including cancer and neurological problems. Here are the top 10 plants that will help improve air quality in your indoor space, starting with the most effective.

11 Pretty Houseplants To Purify Your Indoor Air

1. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)

This shade loving plant is popular around the Easter holidays. The plant features glossy leaves and pretty cupped shaped white flowers. Peace lilies are easy to maintain and can even thrive in bathrooms. These plants are one of the most effective indoor air purifiers—they top NASA’s list of VOC removers.

indoor plants that clean the air2. Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)

These plants are slow growing shrubs that can get up to 15 feet tall. They prefer moderate light and occasional waterings. Dracaenas are especially effective at removing VOC that are released from lacquers, varnishes, and sealers.

3. English ivy (Hedera helix)

Although a nuisance as an outdoor plant due to its tendency to grow over everything, English Ivy is a great indoor plant that takes to life in a container easily. In addition to being an effective remover of VOC, it also reduces airborne fecal-matter particles.

4. Variegated snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')

Also known as “mother-in-law's tongue”, this is a tough as nails plant that will thrive in very low light conditions. Put snake plant in your bathroom to get rid of formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper and tissues. The humidity in the bathroom is perfect to keep this plant thriving.

5. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)

Stock up on these fall favorites when they come into season at the end of summer. Chrysanthemums are not just pretty, they help remove benzene, a common ingredient found in glue, paint, plastics and detergent. They like bright, indirect light and you need to water regularly and deadhead to encourage blooms. Once they flower, fertilized lightly and keep it watered until they bloom again.

6. Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

This is another pretty flower that can brighten up a room and clean the air. They are especially good at filtering out trichloroethylene and benzene. They can be finicky to grow, but the trick is to keep them in very well drained soil and at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Mist leaves a couple times a week for long lasting blooms.

7. Heart Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium)

This is an easy to grow, low light plant that’s a VOC filtering workhouse. It’s especially effective with formaldehyde from sources like particleboard.  Heart Leaf Philodendron is a vine plant that can be trained to grow up a trellis or let it drape in a hanging basket. Keep the tendrils trimmed once they lose a few leaves to keep it from looking lanky.

8. Aloe (Aloe vera)

Most people know aloe of the skin healing gel it produces. Aloe can also filter out VOC such as formaldehyde and benzene, byproducts of chemical-based cleaners and paints. Aloe is an easy to grow succulent that loves full sun and well-drained soil. Keep a couple of these plants on hand to soothe sunburns and minor skin abrasions as well as to help clean your air.

9. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider plants are hard to kill—perfect if you tend to neglect plants. They are prolific growers and send out many shoots of “baby” plants that hang on the ends. Every one of these baby plants can be potted up to make a new plant! Spider plants filter out benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene (a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing industries). Keep the plant in indirect light and do not overwater.

Chlorophytum in white flowerpot on wooden background . Ornamental plants in pot /Variegatum,comosum . 

10. Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

This is another super easy to grow houseplant that will tolerate low light. They are great for getting rid of benzene and formaldehyde. They are a native of the tropics and like humidity. Misting the leaves during the dry, winter months is a must.  The Chinese evergreen makes a perfect plant for your bathrooms.

11. Chinese evergreens' green leaf(Aglaonema modestum)

Adding plants to your indoor space will not only improve air quality, but also helps bring some green into your environment. During the winter or long work days, a little green will help you breathe easier and help improve your mood. Go ahead, get a plant or two.

Inspired to buy indoor plants that clean the air? Check out more articles:

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