House Plants do more than decorate and add color to its setting, many species of plants do specific kinds of tasks to our air.
It is natural to cycle and recycle properties of life and as purifying plants, they just naturally do their thing!
When you breathe, your body takes in oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. During photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
This opposite pattern of gas use makes plants and people natural partners. Adding plants to your home and office spaces can increase oxygen levels.
At night, photosynthesis ceases, and plants typically respire like humans, absorbing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. A few plants, orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads, do just the opposite, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Place these plants in bedrooms to refresh air during the night.
As part of the photosynthetic and respiratory processes, plants release moisture vapor, which increases humidity of the air around them. Plants release roughly 97 percent of the water they take in.
Plants remove toxins from air – up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) every 24 hours, according to NASA research. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Benzene is commonly found in high concentrations in study settings, where books and printed papers abound.
Modern climate-controlled, air-tight buildings trap VOCs inside. The NASA research discovered that plants purify that trapped air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant.
Adding plants to hospital rooms speeds recovery rates of surgical patients, according to researchers at Kansas State University. Compared to patients in rooms without plants, patients in rooms with plants request less pain medication, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, experience less fatigue and anxiety, and are released from the hospital sooner.
The Dutch Product Board for Horticulture commissioned a workplace study that discovered that adding plants to office settings decreases fatigue, colds, headaches, coughs, sore throats and flu-like symptoms. In another study by the Agricultural University of Norway, sickness rates fell by more than 60 percent in offices with plants.
Some common house plants who work the air….
Particularly good at absorbing toluene emitted from gasoline, paint, kerosene and lacquers.
These plants flourish in medium light, single pot and room temperature.
Allow the soil to dry between watering; brown leaves indicate they need more water.24
Spider Plant (Airplane plant)
These plants can absorb up to 90 percent of formaldehyde and carbon monoxide from tobacco smoke and O-xylene from fuels and P-xylene found in plastics.
It is resilient and survives well even if you don’t have a green thumb. It makes new plants that hang from the mother plant and loves water. The plant is safe for your pets and easy to grow.25
In the family of Bromeliads, as is the pineapple, this plant easily purifies the air of 90 percent of benzenes emitted from glues, furniture wax, detergent and paint.
These plants are easy to grow indoors and have very few problems with pests.
They withstand drought well, but never overwater them.26
Caribbean Tree Cactus
These lovely cactus plants can absorb up to 80 percent of the ethylbenzene in the space they are kept.
This chemical is emitted from electronic products, construction material, garden care products, toys and furniture.
Most cactus plants will do well in pots with the right amount of food, light and water. Although they withstand the drought well, they do require more water indoors than they do in the ground.27
These beautiful variegated leaf plants absorb 90 percent of the acetone from household cleaners and nail polish remover.
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’)
These leafy plants require a lot of water and provide humidity for your home and are an indirect remedy for dry skin, usually a side effect of too much air conditioning..
Boston ferns are used as indoor plants; they contribute in eliminating toxins from the air such as formaldehyde.
(Formaldehyde is usually found in carpets, upholstery, and air fresheners. It can cause burning in the eyes and throat as well as nausea.)
Mother Nature’s Air Filter, the Peace Lily is rated among the top ten air purifying plants for interiors by NASA.
This tropical evergreen perennial not only tolerates the low light and dry conditions found in most homes, it actually makes the indoors healthier.
These plants come in either a solid color or variegated leaf variety. They bloom in the spring and don’t require much light.
Keep them close at hand in your office as they absorb electromagnetic radiation from your digital devices and humidify the air.
Easy to grow and care for, they are excellent at absorbing the toxins from cigarette smoke and cleansing the air for people suffering from asthma.
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.
Slightly more difficult to care for, the Ficus cleanses odors from the air and reduces toxic substances from your home and office. There are several varieties of the plant.
Snake Plant, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
This plant is easy to care for and grows well. It removes benzene and formaldehyde.
It increases the oxygen supply in the room at night so it is great for bedrooms.
These are favorite plants as they are easily grown and look great in hanging pots. They efficiently detoxify formaldehyde but are toxic to cats and dogs.
These will do well as hanging plants too.
Also known as the Reed Palm, this plant thrives indoors and readily absorbs formaldehyde outgassing from furniture.
If you’ve purchased a new chair or couch you may want to decorate with a couple of these plants.28
20 Do Indoor Plants Really Clean the Air?. (2016). Live Science. Retrieved 5 September 2016
21 Wolverton, B., Johnson, A., & Bounds, K. (1989). Interior Landscape Plants for indoor Air Pollution Abatement
22 Selecting the right house plant could improve indoor air (animation) — American Chemical Society. (2016). American Chemical Society
23 Healthy houseplants that can purify indoor air. (2016). CNN. Retrieved 5 September 2016
24 Jade. (2016). Old Farmer’s Almanac. Retrieved 5 September 2016
25, 28 15 houseplants for improving indoor air quality. (2016). MNN — Mother Nature Network. Retrieved 5 September 2016
26 Bromeliads.info. Retrieved 5 September 2016
27 Martin Anderson, T. (2016). Care of Your Cactus | Archives | Aggie Horticulture. Aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu. Retrieved 5 September 2016