As homes become more efficient and better insulated, more air pollutants can be trapped inside. Every house and office has indoor air pollutants. From chemicals in carpet and paint to chemical cleaners and stagnant air, these indoor pollutants, such as benzene, formaldehyde and ammonia, have been ranked among the top five environmental risks to public health. And, they are brought in by everyday things such as carpet, household cleaners, paint, insulation, pressed-wood, to name just a few.
These indoor pollutants can contribute to asthma, illness, allergies, headaches and more. The scientists at NASA have been working on finding solutions to this issue and they’ve discovered that some houseplants can actually help clean the air for us, with the added benefit of bringing a bit of nature’s beauty inside. A great and inexpensive way to combat a very real problem.
How do houseplants clean the air?
They absorb some of the air particulates when they take in carbon dioxide, which is processed into oxygen through photosynthesis. Microorganisms associated with plants are present in the potting soil and these microbes are also responsible for much of the cleaning effect. Plus, studies suggest that indoor plants may make people smarter by keeping them alert and reducing mental fatigue.
How many clean air plants do you need?
To be effective, it’s recommended that you’ll need at least two plants per 100 square feet of space, or 15 to 18 good-sized houseplants in an 1,800 square foot house. Even if you have less than that, any clean air houseplants you add will help.
Which clean air plants should you add to your home and office?
To make it easier on you, here are our top 7 clean air plants:
Peace Lilies are in the top three on the NASA Clean Air Plant List. A versatile, year ‘round bloomer, the Peace Lily does well anywhere in the home, but it likes direct sunlight and requires weekly watering. This beauty works well in any décor.
What it does: Removes common household toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, tricholorethylene, xylene and even ammonia.
Caution: It’s important to note that the Peace Lily can be mildly toxic to humans and pets.
Philodendron is a climbing vine that is often best for homes without small pets or children. This beauty if virtually maintenance free and an excellent choice for removing formaldehyde, like what is commonly found in particle board.
What it does: Removes formaldehyde, commonly found in particle board.
Caution: Philodendron’s are toxic if ingested.
This fast-growing vine tolerates a lot of neglect, is forgiving when over-watered, is relatively effective at removing many air pollutants. Golden Pathos is a great starter houseplant for people without much indoor-gardening experience.
How it Helps: It tackles formaldehyde, and also targets carbon monoxide and benzene. Consider placing one in your mudroom or entryway, where car exhaust fumes heavy in formaldehyde are most likely to sneak indoors from the garage.
Caution: Toxic to animals
Boston Ferns are a classic houseplant that filters air, handles anything from bright indirect light to a shady spot outdoors. They prefer to be constantly moist and grow quickly with a graceful weeping habit. It features feather-like leaves and curved fronds that are well suited to indoor hanging baskets. It’s considered one of the most efficient air purifiers, but it can prove a bit difficult to maintain because of its need for constant moisture and humidity.
What it does: This fern works especially well in removing formaldehyde, which is found in some glues, as well as pressed wood products, including cabinetry, plywood paneling, and furniture. (Some studies also show it can remove toxic metals, such as mercury and arsenic, from soil.)
Spider Plants are a classic, usually green and white variegated, houseplant that performs well in fluorescent light to bright, indirect light. They like to dry out between waterings and flourish in hanging baskets.
What it does: Put a spider plant on a pedestal or in a hanging basket close to a sunlit window and it will help eliminate formaldehyde and xylene from your air.
Non-toxic: For children or animals who like to play with swinging things, this plant is safe.
Easy to care for, Palm trees like cooler temperatures, preferably in the 60 to 75°F range.
What they do: Palm trees seem particularly good at removing indoor air pollutants, specifically formaldehyde. The best at formaldehyde removal is the Dwarf Date Palm, which is closest in appearance to the palm trees that remind you of warmer climates, but you’ll also get clean air with a Bamboo Palm, Areca Palm, Lady Palm, or Parlor Palm.
Caution: Some palm trees can be toxic.
The English Ivy is ideal for pots because its invasive nature allows it to spread easily. Water generously during growth being careful to not overwater in the winter. It’s also versatile when it comes to growing conditions and doesn’t require much maintenance.
What it does: Eliminates benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more. Research found it to be particularly useful in eliminating airborne fecal-matter particles. The plant is also great for a family with smokers in it. Its ability to soak up carcinogens from second-hand smoke helps to purify small areas.
Caution: Toxic to animals and humans.
Are you ready to add some much-needed clean air plants to your home or office? Stop by Patuxent Nursery and pick up what you need. Our plant experts are available to answer any questions you may have and help you pick the right plants for you.
Have questions? Contact our Houseplants Department.