More than 90 percent of people spend their time indoors. Our homes are subject to all kinds of air pollutants, from pollen and pet dander to molds and bacteria. Even upholstery, furniture, cleaning products and synthetic building materials can emit toxic compounds. The Environmental Protection Agency ranked indoor air pollutants among the top five environmental threats to public health. Thankfully, plants are easy to use as air filters in your home, just as they are for the earth. Below is a list of the plants that remove some of the most common pollutants from indoor air. This list was compiled from NASA research and published studies in the Journal of American Society of Horticultural Science and elsewhere.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to become a master gardener with Aloe. The cactus doesn’t require a lot of water, and it loves getting sunny exposure. Airborne formaldehyde, released from cleaning products, personal care items, toilet paper, and tissues, is also removed. Its leaves are also walking medicine chests, so even if you weren’t aware, aloe is a wonder plant. When you crack one open, you get a treatment for cuts, burns, and other minor skin irritations and inflammations.
Azalea is another great formaldehyde buster, like aloe. Humidity and temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees are ideal for these flowering shrubs. You should keep your plants away from your heater vents, and you should mist them instead of watering them.
Bamboo palms, also known as reed palms, filter benzene (present in detergents, glues, paints, and plastics), formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air. In the shade or in the sun, they’ll grow equally well. As an added bonus, bamboo can grow as tall as 12 feet high and often produces flowers and berries, transforming any room into a beautiful Eden.
The Boston Fern tops the charts for formaldehyde filtration, but it also effectively removes benzene and xylene (process solvents used in tanning, printing, and rubber production) from the air. If you want to grow these ferns, you better have a green thumb — they need regular waterings and feedings, plus a humid environment with indirect light.
The more air pollutants this plant is exposed to, the more it filters. It is still possible to plant Chinese evergreens in low light, provided they are misted regularly.
All kinds of toxins can be filtered by mums, particularly ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. Mums’ flowers are good for removing benzene from the air, and they come in virtually every color. To get them to bloom, place them directly in the sunlight.
English ivy, another formaldehyde remover, is a beautiful climber that will thrive anywhere you train it to grow. Fecal-matter particles can also be reduced by the plant.
Dracaena has been known to take poisons from varnishes and oils like benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air. However, if you have pets that like to chew, stay away from this plant as it can be poisonous to them. In addition to that, dracaena grows quickly and can reach a height of over 10 feet.
The Ficus tree is native to Southeast Asia and thrives both indoors and outdoors. The plant can be left potted all winter and will remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from your home, and then taken outside for the summer.
Benzene (found in many inks) and trichloroethylene (used by dry cleaners) will be removed by Gerbers. A well-drained soil and at least six hours of full sun are all they need.
Golden pothos is another formaldehyde filter that grows in indirect light however can’t be kept near pets or children due to its poisonous leaves.
Peace lilies will eliminate ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and other VOCs left behind by cleaning products and paint. Plants with this feature give the air additional humidity, are easy to grow, and need low light.
The snake plant is one of the easiest houseplants to care for and requires little water. If you keep them in low light with steamy conditions such as a bathroom, they will help remove pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air.
Another plant that’s hard to kill is the spider plant. The firm will take on formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide and xylene. Moreover, regrowing them is extremely easy-just chop off the spiders that spring off the main plant and plant each one in a new pot.