Houseplants have always been admired for the freshness and beauty they bring indoors. But did you know that they can also filter the indoor air for you? In this article, I’ll be introducing the 20 best air-purifying houseplants and some basic care instructions for each of them.
- 1 An Introduction to Indoor Pollution
- 2 How Can Houseplants Purify Indoor Air?
- 3 20 Best Houseplants for Air Purification
- 3.1 1.Philodendrons
- 3.2 2.Chinese Evergreen Plants
- 3.3 3.Aloe Vera
- 3.4 4.Dracaena Marginata
- 3.5 5.Spider Plants
- 3.6 6.Peace Lily
- 3.7 7.Golden Pothos
- 3.8 8.Chrysanthemum Morifolium
- 3.9 9.Rubber Plants
- 3.10 10. Boston Fern
- 3.11 11. Pineapple Plants
- 3.12 12. Ficus Benjamina
- 3.13 13. Snake Plant
- 3.14 14. English Ivy
- 3.15 15. Flamingo Lily
- 3.16 16. Broadleaf Lady Palm
- 3.17 17. Bamboo Palm
- 3.18 18. Gerbera Daisy
- 3.19 19. Fittonia Frankie
- 3.20 20. Areca Palm
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions About Air Purifying Plants
- 5 Conclusion
An Introduction to Indoor Pollution
Indoor air pollution is caused by synthetic building materials, pollutants, viruses, and airborne mold. The lack of proper air circulation also increases indoor air pollution.
Several wall paints, rubber, and plastic products break down and release harmful toxins in the air. Houseplants can help us improve the indoor air quality by absorbing harmful toxins from the air via the leaves. They are transmitted to the root, where the plant converts them into a food source.
Indoor air quality matters because we spend most of our time (almost 90%) indoors, whether in the office cubicles or the comfort of our own house.
The harmful toxins mentioned in this article can pollute the indoor environment that too without any visual warning. If you neglect the air quality of your house, it can have serious health consequences ranging from allergies, asthma to headaches. It can even disturb your digestive system.
How Can Houseplants Purify Indoor Air?
The idea of air-purifying houseplants was initiated in 1989 after research by NASA. This study focused on ten plants, but with time and further research, several plants have been added to the list.
The scientists experimented with certain plants to tests their potential to help clean air. A few of the toxins are listed below:
- Formaldehyde – comes from pressed wood products, wood floorboard resins, adhesives, grouts, heating, and cooking fuels. It is even found in simple household products like paper towels or facial tissues. It is a cancer-causing chemical pollutant.
- Benzene- mostly found in detergents, glues, furniture wax, paint, rubber.
- Ammonia – found in cleaning products and fertilizer. Your regular glass cleaner also has ammonia in it.
- Trichloroethylene – prevalent in homes that are going through renovation.
- Carbon monoxide – commonly found in fireplace, stove, etc.
20 Best Houseplants for Air Purification
Following popular houseplants can remove harmful toxins from the air. You can carefully select a plant from the list below to make your home healthier.
Philodendrons can be found in almost every house. They are famous for their low maintenance, stunning foliage, and delicate blooms. Originating from the South American rainforests, today, we have almost 489 varieties of Philodendrons.
They come in all shapes and sizes, but most of them prefer filtered sunlight and well-draining soil. You can grow them in a hanging basket or train them to climb a pole or trellis. They will add a tropical touch to your indoor area in both ways.
There are two main groups in the Philodendron family, hybrids and vining plants. Although Philodendrons are classified as air-purifying, the plant itself can be toxic if ingested. Therefore, keep it away from your cats and dogs.
2.Chinese Evergreen Plants
This is a perfect plant for novice gardeners. It requires minimal attention in terms of light, water, and temperature. This flowering plant can be found in shades of classic green or variegated versions. The leaves have gorgeous patterns and colors.
This plant is famous for offices and houses because of its low light requirements. The average temperature range for this species is 70 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (21 to 22 degrees Celsius). You should plant them in a well-draining mixture of potting soil, sand, and perlite.
In Asia, the Chinese Evergreens are considered lucky plants. You can try the following varieties for indoor gardening Aglaonema Modestum, Aglaonema Widuri or Red Peacock, Aglaonema Cutlass, Aglaonema Pictum Tricolor, and Aglaonema Harlequin.
It cleanses the two main pollutants found in cosmetics and detergents; formaldehyde and benzene.
This hardy plant variety originates from Africa, and it has several medicinal uses. It will look lovely in your kitchen window sill. This succulent can grow well in poor soil with little water and reaches an average height of 2-3 ft. (61-91cm).
The gel extracted from the leaves of Aloe Vera is used to treat burns or heal wounds. Those growing outside can produce bell-shaped flowers. This medicinal plant thrives in cacti or succulent soil and appreciates bright spots with indirect sunlight.
This plant takes in carbon dioxide and at the same time releases oxygen at night. It also purifies the indoor air from toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.
Dracaena is a famous plant genus with a collection of 120 succulent shrubs and trees. If you like unusual plants, you can try the tricolor varieties from the Dracaena family.
The Dragon Tree plant adds a flash of color with the sword-like leaves with pinkish-red edges. You can grow it in a loamy soil mixture after fixing it with peat moss. For light, it requires bright sunlight but also survives in partial shade.
It removes xylene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde, which are usually found in hair sprays, furniture varnish, and polish.
This is an ideal houseplant because it demands minimum attention from you and adapts to several growing conditions. It is an ideal choice for all newbie gardeners. These plants look great in hanging baskets because of the trailing growth habit.
With proper care, a Spider plant multiplies quickly by growing spider-shaped plantlets.
The name indicates the spidery appearance and the rosette foliage of the plant. This plant requires a cool temperature for healthy growth, between 55 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (13 to 18 degrees Celsius). The narrow leaves and tiny white flowers make it a beautiful houseplant.
This plant is safe for your pets. According to NASA research, Spider Plants can remove up to 90% of formaldehyde from the indoor air in 24 hours. It also reduces carbon monoxide and xylene.
You can keep this plant at your desk to reduce indoor pollutants.
This is a well-known houseplant that is beautiful and hardy. It was also featured in NASA’s list of top 10 household air-cleaning plants. The spoon-shaped, white flowers help this plant stand out among others.
This cheerful houseplant grows 1 -4 ft. tall, and you can enjoy the deep green leaves for many years.
You should water this plant when the soil dries to keep them happy. Water quantity should be adjusted to make sure the soil is damp but not supersaturated.
The Peace Lilies can filter harmful toxins like benzene, trichloroethylene, ammonia, and formaldehyde. The flowers can elevate the humidity by up to 5%.
Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy belongs to the Solomon Islands and can be grown in pots, water, or hanging basket. The cascading foliage can add character and color to any area in addition to purifying the air.
Some gardeners have nicknamed this plant as cubicle plant because it survives well in boring environments of offices. It can grow easily under fluorescent lights.
It is proven to filter benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the indoor air of commercial buildings.
These floral houseplants are native to East Asia and Europe. They belong to the daisy family.
Chrysanthemums not just produce lovely blooms but also clean the indoor air. They can brighten up any corner of your house. This particular plant variety is difficult to grow, but you can surely try it to enjoy the colorful blooms.
The bright flowers can filter pollutants like benzene or ammonia, commonly found in plastic, glue, and detergent.
Water the Chrysanthemum with lukewarm water and provide plenty of indirect sunlight plus good airflow. Always place them near a sunbathed window.
This plant variety is native to India. You can grow them in small containers or let them thrive and become indoor trees. This plant is a great addition to indoor gardens, especially in areas with low sunlight.
It is good at removing formaldehyde but to help it function properly, keep it in moist, well-draining potting soil and filtered light.
Whether you grow the regular green or burgundy variety, both of them effectively remove up to 60% of mold and bacteria from indoor air. It has the highest oxygen production rate compared to other plants, and fighting the bacteria is the plant’s defense mechanism to protect the soil.
10. Boston Fern
Ferns are historical plants that are used for food, bio fertilization, medicine, and gardening. This Fern is famous for the sword-shaped fronds that can each a length of 3 ft. It has a feather-like, bushy appearance with lush green foliage.
Boston Fern is a charming houseplant that thrives in moisture-rich areas. The potting soil for this plant should be damp, and you should grow it under indirect lighting.
It will not only improve the indoor air humidity but also reduce air toxins from your environment. Boston Ferns remove formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
11. Pineapple Plants
They do not remove any toxins but instead improve the air quality by producing more oxygen at night. Pineapple plants add an exotic touch to your house with the dramatic foliage and huge leaves.
The tough leaves do not allow much water to escape. Therefore this plant requires minimal watering. This plant comes from the bromeliads family, so it has a small root system and does not need high-quality soil. Pineapple plants prefer full sun but can also withstand dappled shade.
Pineapple plants started from South America and soon spread to other areas in the region. This hardy plant variety is not suitable for frosty areas, and like many other houseplants, it cannot tolerate waterlogged or soggy soil.
12. Ficus Benjamina
Also known as the Weeping Fig, it filters most of the toxins in furniture and carpeting, such as formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
This is a popular houseplant from the Victorian Times. But it’s not an easy plant, unlike some others mentioned in this list.
This fussy variety dislikes change in the environment. This sensitive plant will start dropping or yellowing the leaves if you change its location or watering habits. But luckily, the leaves will grow back once the plant adjusts to the new environment.
This plant is native to a range of locations, starting from India to Australia.
This plant can thrive for many years if you maintain consistent plant care that includes watering with gaps, providing filtered sunlight, and high humidity. It should be kept away from drafts.
13. Snake Plant
Snake Plants are famous for their stylish, sculptured appearance. They can handle dry soil and a range of lighting settings, making them a great plant for forgetful gardeners.
This plant should be protected from overwatering to eliminate the risk of root rot. Indirect sunlight is the best for all Snake plant varieties.
Snake Plants originate from Eastern Asia, Africa, and Madagascar, and there are around 70 different species that are popular for gardening.
Snake Plants can filter the formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene from the air. In fact, it is one of the best air purifiers.
14. English Ivy
This plant is native to a variety of regions starting from Asia, Africa, and Europe. It was first introduced in 1727.
This plant is perfect for purifying the bathroom environment as it reduces airborne faecal particles and fights the mold levels within your house. This trailing plant demands regular watering from its grower because it grows in moist soil conditions.
The English Ivy also needs about 4 hours of direct sunlight and a generous amount of moisture. Under perfect conditions, this climber can get 50 ft. tall.
It removes toxins like formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and benzene.
15. Flamingo Lily
Another name for this plant is Anthurium Scherzerianum. It is named after the Flamingo-like colorful flowers that are curled, and the foliage is elongated.
This plant comes from the rainforests in Central and Southern America. Therefore humid climates are closer to their natural habitat.
Water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist, not soggy. Additionally, mist the foliage to maintain high humidity around this Anthurium.
Flamingo Lily also needs bright filtered sunlight. For temperature, you can grow it in a range of 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 32 degrees Celsius).
It can filter ammonia, toluene, and formaldehyde.
16. Broadleaf Lady Palm
This plant is a style statement as it adds drama to your indoor space. This strange species originated from a Chinese cultivar. It is among the few houseplants that can help you reduce ammonia levels. Ammonia is usually found in cleaning products.
Full-grown plants might be expensive; therefore, it is economical to grow your own from seeds or a smaller version.
Your bathroom is the perfect location for this humidity loving plant. But you should ensure it gets filtered sunlight and the soil remains moist. Maintain the acidity of the soil and add organic matter to facilitate drainage.
If you want to enhance the dark green color of the leaves, keep the plant in a shady location. The plant itself can reach a maximum height of 14 ft., and the fronds can grow 6-12 inches in length.
There are two main types of Broadleaf Lady Palm; variegated and green.
17. Bamboo Palm
As an indoor plant, the Bamboo Palm can add color and warmth to any room in your house. The fronds on this plant are slightly wider than other varieties, but it enjoys the same growing conditions; bright filtered sunlight, moist soil, and thorough watering.
To water, a Bamboo Palm always uses filtered water at room temperature.
This Palm can adjust to low lighting and filters xylene, ammonia, and formaldehyde within your house. However, the more sunlight it receives, the taller it can grow. A mature Bamboo Palm is 4-12 ft. in size.
It thrives in high humidity. Therefore your bathroom is a perfect location. The plant care for Bamboo Palm is easy and straightforward but watch out for pests like spider mites.
This plant genus has more than 100 species to choose from. You can grow any variety based on your indoor climate and preference.
18. Gerbera Daisy
This blooming plant originates from South Africa and has a high transpiration rate. It is a powerful air purifier that produces the happiest blooms in shades of white, orange, salmon, pink and yellow. The daisy-like blooms are 2-5 inches in size.
Gerbera Daisies have many cultivars for indoor gardening, but most of them thrive on sandy soil and full sunlight. You should not plant the crown very deeply; otherwise, this Daisy plant can suffer from crown rot. Avoid covering the crown with mulch.
If you keep this plant happy, it can survive for 2 or 3 years. This plant cannot bloom with inadequate sunlight. Therefore if you keep it in filtered sunlight indoors, make sure it gets sunlight for the whole day.
This plant should be watered when 2-3 inches of soil layers have dried. Remember to keep it at moderate temperature because it cannot survive in temperatures higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit ( 21 degrees Celsius).
Grow this Daisy indoors to filter out air toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
19. Fittonia Frankie
This Nerve plant is low maintenance and filters toluene, benzene, and trichloroethylene to improve the indoor air quality of your house. It has beautiful leaves in shades of pink and green. The pattern and leaf structure of this Peruvian makes it a great houseplant.
This plant is a perfect choice for your terrarium or dish garden because it reaches a maximum height of 3-6 inches only. However, it requires high humidity, filtered sunlight, and a well-draining soil mixture that remains moist.
If you water the plant well, the frilled leaves will have a stiff appearance. If you notice the plant is fainting, revise your watering schedule to make sure the Frankie plant is not under-watered. Do not forget to repot this colorful plant in the spring season.
20. Areca Palm
Areca Palm or the Yellow Butterfly Palm is the easiest Palm to grow indoors. It can reach a maximum height of 6-8 ft. You can grow it in a soil-based potting compost and avoid unnecessary repotting. I am growing mine in a peat-based potting mixture in a sunny location because this plant enjoys full or partial sunlight.
The Areca Palm is native to Madagascar; therefore, it needs high humidity to maintain the plants’ look. It is also a heavy feeder that requires regular feeding from spring to early fall.
The temperature range for this beautiful plant is 68 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (20 to 30 degrees Celsius).
This beauty removes xylene and toluene from the atmosphere.
Frequently Asked Questions About Air Purifying Plants
How many plants should I keep in my house to achieve the air-purifying effect?
You should keep at least 2-3 plants in every one hundred square feet. You can choose any plant mentioned in this article and grow them in 8 or 10-inch pots for maximum air purification.
Can Orchids purify the air?
Orchids are slow-growing plants; they do not contribute much to air purification. Fast-growing plants have higher photosynthesis and oxygen release rate; therefore, they are a better choice to clean indoor air.
How can plants help cure sick building syndrome?
Buildings or rooms with plants have 50-60 percent fewer bacteria or airborne molds compared to those with no plants. Plants cure or at least reduce the sick building syndrome by controlling humidity and purifying toxins from the indoor air.
What are some health benefits of indoor plants?
They reduce irritation to the eyes, throat, nose, lower stress levels, and ease coughing or congestion.
Which plants produce oxygen 24 hours a day?
Some famous indoor plants that produce oxygen at night include the Areca Palm, Snake plant, and Aloe Vera.
This article gives a brief description of 20 varieties of air-purifying houseplants. You can choose one for your indoor garden based on your likings and care requirements. Some are easy to grow, while others are difficult.
Some of the plants mentioned here are natural air filters, while others increase oxygen levels. All these are statement houseplants that can add a touch of nature to your home.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.