Plants are natural air purifiers. In addition to converting carbon dioxide into oxygen, many plant species are effective at taking toxic or hazardous compounds and breaking them down into safer, basic components. In the same way that tropical rainforests produce more than a quarter of the earth’s oxygen, a mini rainforest of tropical interior plants can improve the air quality in your home. In particular, a number of houseplants species are noted for their ability to remove indoor pollutants. Here are a few plants you want to make sure are part of your home’s natural filtration system.
Spathiphyllum – Peace Lily
Its striking white flowers and adaptability to low light conditions make this a popular house plant. What most people do not know is that peace lily helps to remove benzene and acetone from the air. These chemicals are sometimes found in paints, cleaners, polishes and adhesives.
Spathiphyllum is one of the easiest-to-care-for houseplants. It likes a lot of light, but not direct sun. The blooms usually arrive in summer. Note that peace lily – despite its name – is poisonous. Do not let kids or pets munch on the leaves!
Sansevieria – Snake Plant
Another popular plant that does well with low light levels, the easy-to-grow snake plant, like peace lily, filters out benzene from the air. It is also known to remove formaldehyde, one of the most common indoor pollutants and a known carcinogen.
Snake plant, sometimes called mother-in-law’s tongue, is a slow grower, but tolerant of a wide range of conditions. It does best in bright light with some direct sun. The plant is easy to recognize, and there are several varieties with different amount of markings and variegation.
Epipremnum – Golden Pothos
Another in the list of low light tolerant, popular plants is golden pothos, known for its variegated, heart-shaped leaves and trailing growth habit. Given the chance, it will grow and grow. Some like this vine-like characteristic; some don’t.
Pothos leaf colors are more dramatic in brighter locations. Its value as an air purifier is similar to snake plant.
Chlorophytum – Spider Plant
Even if you have never had a green thumb, spider plant is almost certain to survive in your home. With a little light and water, it may even thrive. In addition to taking benzene and formaldehyde out of the air, spider plant gets rid of xylene, which is used in ink, leather, adhesive and paint production.
If your spider plant is happy and healthy, it will send out shoots with baby spider plants or spiderettes. These can be rooted in soil to start new plants.
Aloe Vera – Aloe
Aloe may be the most well known plant on this list. Aloe vera is used in a wide range of health and beauty products and even beverages. Most people keep aloe plants around as a source of gel for treating minor cuts and burns. It also filters the most common household pollutants.
Aloe is easy to grow and prefers to sit in a sunny space in your home, but should not get full sun all day long. It also likes soil a little on the dry side.
Hedera Helix – English Ivy
Don’t plant English ivy in your yard. It’s invasive and wreaks havoc on natural woodlands if it escapes. Instead, keep a pot of ivy in your house where it will filter out formaldehyde and airborne mold. It may be particularly useful if you suffer from allergies.
Ivy prefers even soil moisture – not too wet – and a lot of bright light.
Chamaedorea – Bamboo or Reed Palm
This indoor palm is known as one of the most effective household pollutant removers. In addition to the chemicals listed above, it takes care of trichloroethylene, which is a solvent and degreaser found in some correction fluids, paint removers and spot removers.
Reed palm likes bright, indirect light and well drained soil. It does not like soggy conditions. It is not unusual for Chamaedorea to get mites. A soapy spray for plant pests will help get rid of them.
How Many Plants do I Need for Air Purification?
Though we know that these houseplants – and many others – are effective air purification plants, it’s a little harder to know how many plants you need per room. In rooms with a lot of electrical equipment or chemicals, which might include craft rooms, workshops or kitchens, try to find space for two full size plants in 12 inch containers per 100 square feet. For other rooms, a single six or eight inch plant per 100 square feet is enough to help clear the air.
Even if you live a green lifestyle with minimal use of chemical cleaners and other products, it’s difficult to completely eliminate all sources of air pollution from the home. Having tropical house plants around the house is a fun way to liven up your home, produce more oxygen and quite possibly, make your house a healthier place to live.