Have you heard of off-gassing? Basically, we bring items into our homes that contain chemicals. These chemicals, also known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are dispersed into the air of our homes. The release of these chemicals is commonly known as off-gassing. We cannot be completely free from off-gassing. However, we can help reduce the number of VOCs we bring into our homes. If you want to learn more about which items in your home off-gas, then check out my post here.
Plants Purify The Air In Our Homes
To help clean the air in our homes we can turn to plants. Plants will absorb these VOCs, process them, and release clean oxygen into our homes. This was proven in 1989 by NASA scientists.
Plants are natures air purifiers!
The Nasa Study
In 1989 NASA published a 30 page report about a study they conducted on using plants to eradicate indoor air pollution. In 1989 NASA focused on three main toxins: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene. Additional chemicals that we need to be aware of are ammonia and xylene.
To conduct their study NASA placed plants (in soil) in enclosed spaces which were full of the chemicals. The scientists tested the plants before they were introduced to the VOCs and again after. They found that the plants were absorbing a lot of chemicals.
The study looked at both the long term and short term effects. NASA found that the plants were able to continue cleaning the air even on a long-term basis!
The 15 Best Plants to Purify the Air in Your Home
Some of the houseplants that are excellent at purifying the air in our homes are toxic to our pet-friends. Additionally, some plants are easier to care for than others. Both of those factors were taken into consideration when making this list. So let’s get to talking about the best plants to purify the air in our homes.
1. Areca Palm – This palm ranks highest overall when looking at air purifying properties, ease of care, and non-toxicity! The areca palm likes to receive at least a couple hours of direct sunlight every day. It’s easy to place it by a window so that it will receive some direct sunlight and plenty of indirect light. It requires somewhat frequent watering, but just enough to keep the root ball damp. It also requires fertilizer every season except Winter. As leaves turn brown, they need to be removed. This is a personal favorite of mine!
2. Lady Palm – The lady palm has the same sunlight requirements as a the Areca palm but is slightly easier to care for. Though it does require heavier watering then the Areca palm. The tips of the leaves may turn brown (which is caused by salt buildup from watering with tap water), but they can easily be pruned with a pair of shears. This plant is also non-toxic.
3. Bamboo Palm – Is anyone else seeing a theme here with the palms? As a whole, palms are great at purifying air, generally easy to care for, and are non-toxic. The bamboo palm has the same sunlight requirements as other palms and likes frequent watering during the warm months. They’re more resistant to insects than Areca palms which make them a great choice for homes.
4. Rubber plant (Indian) – This plant is toxic to pets so is best in a home where there are not any furry friends or in a space where you can be sure the animals will not bother the plant. They do not require as much light as the palms and only require regular waterings during summer and fall. This tree will die if overwatered! Aesthetically it is quite pleasing to the eye.
5. Dracaena “Janet Craig” – This plant can reach 10 feet tall, though it can be pruned to stay smaller. There is also a “compacta” variety that stays smaller, only growing 1-3 feet tall. All Dracaena are toxic to pet friends. It tolerates low-light areas and does not like to too much water.
6. Dwarf Date Palm – Another palm on the list! This palm is a slow grower and only reaches 5.5-6 feet in height. It has the same light requirements as other palms. It does not require as much watering as some other palms, as it can tolerate getting dry between waterings. The dwarf date palm likes weekly fertilizing except during winter months.
7. Boston Fern – This fern is a non-toxic houseplant, though it does require a bit more care than the other plants on this list. However, it is one of the best plants for purifying the air inside our homes. The boston fern requires frequent misting with water and moist (though not wet) soil. It also prefers weekly feedings with liquid fertilizer. The boston fern needs some direct sunlight and should placed near a window. The plant looks nice on top of a bookcase or pedestal.
8. Peace Lily – The peace lily produces beautiful white spathes which open showing the white flower inside. A lush tropical foliage surrounds the spathe. The plant is toxic to pets. The peace lily is excellent at purifying indoor air and is pretty easy to care for. The plant will grow in a room that only receives indirect light, since it does not require direct sunlight. The soil should remain moist from spring-fall. The plant can tolerate drier soil during winter months.
9. Golden Pothos – Pothos are one of the easiest plants to grow. This plant can often be found growing in office buildings and shopping malls. They are toxic to our pet friends, so you’ll want to place it up high out of their reach. The golden pothos can tolerate slightly dry soil during waterings and will grow in a room with minimal sunlight. The golden pothos is not as good at purifying air, as some of the others on this list, but its ease of care makes it an excellent house plant.
10. Sword Fern – Like the boston fern, the sword fern is excellent at purifying indoor air. The sword fern is slightly easier to maintain than the boston fern, though it does like frequent misting and moist soil. The sword fern is non-toxic.
11. Gerbera Daisy – The gerbera daisy is excellent at removing chemical vapors from indoor air and provides a nice punch of color. However, the plant requires plenty of sunlight and does not tolerate soggy soil. The gerbera daisy is excellent plant to use as an indoor/outdoor plant, as it may not be able to get enough sunlight if kept indoors year round. The gerbera daisy is pet safe.
12. Parlor Palm – The parlor palm is one of the easiest plants to grow. It likes to have its roots moist and can tolerate low light. The parlor palm is not as good at purifying air as some of the other palms on this list, but its ease of care makes it an excellent choice. This plant is non-toxic.
13. Weeping Fig – The weeping fig is a type of ficus tree and therefore is toxic to animals. However, it is great at absorbing chemical vapors and is pretty easy to maintain. The weeping fig does require a good amount of sunlight and likes moist soil.
14. Schefflera – The schefflera plant is also known as the umbrella tree. The schefflera is great at purifying air and can tolerate neglect. It will grow large (8-10 feet tall) if left unpruned. It likes having the soil dry between waterings. The schefflera needs a room that gets at least indirect sunlight. It is toxic to pets.
15. Prayer Plant – The prayer plant does not require too much maintenance, it just as happy in a room with one window as it is in a room with multiple windows. The prayer plant likes moist soil and is non-toxic. The prayer plant opens it leaves during the day and closes them up at night and only grows to 8-12 inches in height.
You don’t need to have a green thumb for many of these plants. The important part is to know which plants need to be near windows and which can do with less sunlight.
As for keeping them properly watered. A good rule of thumb is to remember the majority of plants neither like being too dry or too wet. Most indoor plants typically do best in a damp potting mix.
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If you’re interested in learning more about using plants in the home, I would recommend B.C. Wolverton’s book How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House Plants that Purify Your Home or Office
You might also want to check out my post where I go into more detail about the benefits of having houseplants provides.
Enjoy breathing fresher air!
Tell me which plants you like best for in the home. Did I miss listing your favorite one?
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Till next time…