Healthy Home

The Best Air-Purifying Plants

  • Air Purifying Plants

    Whether it’s old or new, your home could be harboring unhealthy (and invisible) toxins. These chemical compounds are found in emissions from paint, plastics, carpet, cleaning solutions, and numerous building materials. Three major offenders found in the home include:

    • formaldehyde: in carpets, upholstery, glues, paint, and more
    • benzene: in plastics, synthetic fibers, lubricants, rubber, pesticides, and more)
    • trichloroethylene: in paint removers, rug cleaning solution, adhesives, and more

  • Plants that Clean the Air

    Lucky for us, nature has a way of keeping itself clean. There are many powerful air-cleaning plants that naturally remove pollutants from the air. We picked nine of our favorites and offer tips on how to keep them in top working condition.

    Tip: In a 2,000 square foot house, bring in 15 to 20 plants in 6-inch pots or larger. Rather than scattering single plants, create group displays in each room for a great look and maximum air quality. Adjust accordingly for larger or smaller homes. Before purchasing, ask about which plants could be harmful to pets if ingested.

  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

    In the 1980s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America discovered that peace lilies absorb benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more. To maximize the plant's air-cleansing potential, keep the foliage dust-free. Pristine white blooms are a bonus with this efficient plant.

    Care: The peace lily thrives in both low and bright light. Keep the soil slightly moist and feed monthly during spring and summer with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Low-light conditions inhibit flower production.

    Eliminates: formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, ammonia, and more

  • Dracaena

    This large group of houseplants offers selections in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The tall corn plant (D. fragrans 'Massangeana') looks at home in a corner, while the colorful striped leaves of 'Lemon Lime' (D. deremensis 'Lemon Lime') and the day-glow 'Limelight' (D. deremensis 'Limelight') brighten up a dark spot. These selections flourish in low light, while the Madagascar Dragon Tree (D. marginata) prefers bright light.

    Care: There's a dracaena for every light situation. Keep the soil damp but not soggy. A pot sitting in a water-filled saucer is the kiss of death for this plant. Feed monthly during spring and summer with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer.

    Eliminates: formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, trichloroethylene

  • Florist’s Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)

    While anthurium and orchids do a good job purifying the air, the florist’s chrysanthemum (commonly called a "mum") is one of the best. Technically not a houseplant, this seasonal beauty flowers for about six weeks with proper care. When it’s spent, toss it in the compost pile and treat yourself to another fresh pot.  

    Care: Place the chrysanthemum in bright, indirect light. Check the soil’s moisture every other day, and keep it damp. Don’t bother with fertilizer, as it won’t re-bloom.

    Eliminates: formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, ammonia

  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

    Easy elegance best describes this sturdy palm. It grows between three and six feet tall and also transpires a healthy bit of moisture into a room, making it particularly welcome in dry winter months.

    Care: Although this palm requires bright light to flourish, don’t place it in direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist and feed your plant monthly during summer with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Placing the plant where air circulates freely and occasional misting both help deter spider mites.

    Eliminates: formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, xylene, chloroform, and more

  • Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

    Virtually indestructible, golden pothos consistently grows in high gear and is considered one of the most effective indoor purifiers of the plant world. Show it off in a hanging basket or place in small 6-inch pots at the base of a tall indoor tree (such as the Dracaena corn plant) to cascade over the pot’s edge. The newest selection, ‘Neon,’ boasts brilliant, glowing foliage.

    Care: Golden pothos grows in any light situation except direct sunlight. Water it when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Feed monthly with an all-purpose liquid plant food and trim long tendrils when the plant becomes too large.

    Eliminates: formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, carbon monoxide, and more

  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)

    English Ivy is an evergreen climbing plant that is well adapted to indoor conditions. They’re easily grown as houseplants in hanging baskets or containers and are an excellent choice for low-light situations. Use green-leaved varieties to provide contrast against lighter surroundings and choose variegated forms to brighten up dark corners. English Ivy is recommended for removing allergens such as mold and animal feces.

    Care: Green-leaved varieties will grow in bright indirect light and low-light situations. Pale, variegated forms need bright, indirect light to thrive. Water generously during growth and keep compost moist but not waterlogged through the winter months. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during growth.

    Eliminates: benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more 

  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema spp.)

    Chinese evergreen plants are evergreen perennials from tropical forests in Asia. They’re usually grown as foliage plants where they produce numerous leaves, which are attractively patterned or variegated in some varieties. They remove formaldehyde and benzene amongst other toxins.

    Care: Grow in well-drained potting soil in filtered light and provide high humidity by placing plants above trays of water or by regularly misting with water. Water moderately and allow compost to almost dry out before watering. During the growing season, provide a balanced liquid fertilizer. Repot every two to three years.

    Eliminates: benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more 

  • Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

    Areca palm is a small, cluster-forming palm from Madagascar. The plants’ graceful, arching leaves and architectural form make it an attractive indoor specimen plant. According to NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, Areca Palm is the most efficient air purifying plant and is an excellent air humidifier.

    Care: Grow in bright filtered light with shade from hot sun. Provide plentiful water when in growth, but reduce watering in winter. Apply a balanced liquid fertilizer monthly during growth.

    Eliminates: benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and more 

  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

    Rubber plants are evergreen trees from India. Tropical in appearance, they make handsome container specimens. Leaves are typically broad, deep green and shiny. However, some varieties exhibit cream variegated and purple tinged foliage. Roots are produced ‘aerially,’ which oftentimes entwine around the trunk forming interesting entangled shapes and buttressing. Tests have shown that rubber plants are especially efficient at removing formaldehyde from the air.

    Care: Grow in full or bright, filtered light. When in growth, water moderately and apply a high nitrogen fertilizer monthly. Keep the compost moist in winter. Some pruning may be necessary to reduce plant size. Retain leaf shine by wiping with a damp cloth periodically.

    Eliminates: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and more

  • More Ways to Make Your Home Healthier

    Getting a few houseplants to help improve the air quality in your home is a great first step in making your house a healthier place to live. Here are more ways you can make your home safer and healthier:

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