Decorating your living space with plants is currently all the rage. Beyond aesthetic value, certain plants provide the added bonus of filtering the airborne toxins, dust and germs most commonly found in indoor spaces. Household chemicals come from an array of objects and materials such as carpets, glues, ovens, and cleaning solutions. NASA’s Clean Air study recommends two or three plants in 8-10 inch pots for every 100 square feet. To give your home a breath of fresh air, I’ve created a guide of the best air purifying plants and how to care for them:
1. Bamboo Palm: Is a low-maintenance tropical plant that thrives in low light and can grow to 7 feet tall, allowing flexibility as to where you would want to place it in your home. Bamboo Palm filters formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.
2. Snake Plant: One of the best plants for filtering the air of formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene. It and you will thrive if you place it in your bedroom, as it releases oxygen at night, which will help you breathe better while you sleep. The roots are prone to rot in moist soil, so be mindful not to over-water it.
3. Spider Plant: Battles toxins including carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the printing and rubber industries. It is pet friendly, as this is one of the few houseplants that are non-toxic to animals.
4. Golden Pothos: One of the most low maintenance plants. Golden Pothos loves bright and indirect light. Allow for soil to dry out between waterings. A downside is that they are toxic to cats and dogs, so if your fur baby likes to nibble, be sure to place it out of their reach.
5. Lady Palm: This plants helps reduce levels of ammonia that can be found in most cleaning products. They are expensive to buy fully-grown so I suggest shopping around for a smaller one or start from seed. Lady Palm’s thrive in humidity, making it the perfect plant to place in your bathroom.
6. Aloe Vera: Purifies the air of formaldehyde and benzene, which is found in varnishes, floor finishes and detergents. Aloe Vera love to be in the sun. I keep mine in the kitchen, as it also helps sooth any cuts or burns.
7. Red-Edged Dracaena: Will go to war with trichloroethylene and xylene. Red-Edged Dracaena has the potential to grow well over 8 feet, so be sure to keep it in a room with high ceilings, and where it will have access to reasonable amount of sunlight.
8. English Ivy: Particularly effective at reducing airborne fecal and mold particles, which makes it the perfect air purifier for your bathroom or en suite. Provide your English ivy with generous watering and four hours of direct sunlight a day.
9. Chinese Evergreen: This tropical plant is proven to be an effective cleanser of formaldehyde and benzene, found in detergents and cosmetics. Chinese Evergreens enjoy low-lit and humid conditions, so will thrive in your bathroom. If you choose to keep the plant somewhere else, remember to mist the leaves occasionally to prevent browning.
10. Weeping Fig: Has been a popular houseplant since the Victorian era. Weeping Figs help to tackle levels of formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. They are fairly fussy plants that don’t like change. Keep your Weeping Fig in bright, indirect light away from drafts.
Before you rush to your nearest nursery, keep in mind that an increase in plants can shift humidity and promote mold growth. Some preventative measures you can take include: letting less water drain, removing water regularly, and using sub-irrigation planters. You can also cover the top of the soil with Spanish moss or aquarium gravel to remove mold. Take care of these purifiers, and they will return the favor by improving the air quality in your home for years to come.