On a large scale, we can appreciate that the trillions of trees in the world work around the clock to absorb carbon dioxide and other pollutants from our atmosphere. While it’s completely natural to worry about the pollution outside your door in Lothian or Alexandria, you might not be aware of the pollutants that are emitted right inside your house. Luckily, decorating your home with air-purifying indoor plants can help to refresh your living space, making it a cleaner and safer environment for you and your family.
How Houseplants Clean the Air
Most of us who passed middle school science are aware of a process called photosynthesis. Although many of us probably don’t remember exactly how it works, the important thing to know is that plant leaves absorb gases and use them to fuel this process, and release oxygen in exchange. Aside from the heat-trapping gas, carbon dioxide, scientists have found that houseplants can actually absorb many other gases too, like benzene, which is in plastics, fabrics, and pesticides, and formaldehyde, which happens to be in many of your detergents and cleaners. These compounds can lead to sore, itchy eyes, breathing problems, and other illnesses.
If you’re wondering to just what extent houseplants can combat these toxins, NASA has already answered that question for us. They published a major study on houseplants in 1989, where they found that houseplants significantly reduced the levels of toxins inside their space stations, detoxifying the air and alleviating symptoms of the pollutants. NASA recommends two average-sized air-filtering plants per 100 square feet of your home. Basically, the more you can fit into your house, the better!
The Best Indoor Plants for Air Quality
The cleaning ability of plants is just one of the benefits of bringing them home. Luckily, there is a variety of efficient air-cleaning houseplants to choose from, so you can make sure yours checks all the boxes for both function and beauty! Here are the best indoor plants for improving air quality.
Spider Plants: Named for their long, narrow foliage, spider plants are low-maintenance houseplants that are perfect for newbies! They look great spilling from hanging containers, filtering out formaldehyde and xylene from above. Water them a few times a week, and your spider plant may even reward you with some dainty, white flowers.
Golden Pothos: A charming, climbing houseplant with heart-shaped leaves and yellow streaks, golden pothos is perfect for cascading over hanging baskets or windowsills. You’ll especially want to keep them up high if you have any dogs or cats that might want to nibble on their leaves. This pothos cleans the air in your home, ridding it of a variety of pollutants, including benzene, carbon monoxide, and xylene. It’s super easy to care for, so you can set it out of reach and pretty much forget about it.
Dracaenas: Dracaena plants offer a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors, so there’s bound to be one to suit your space. Their often dramatic foliage and eye-catching color patterns are sure to be a focal point in whatever room they’re in. This houseplant will remove a variety of pollutants from your home, including trichloroethylene, without asking for much in return. Dracaena is toxic to dogs and cats, so place it out of reach of your furry friends!
English Ivy: It’s hard not to fall in love with the delicate, dark green leaves of English ivy, and those who suffer from environmental allergies will love them even more! This climbing evergreen removes not just pollutants, but also airborne mold, allergens, and even airborne feces from your home. Since English ivy can flourish in a range of light conditions, including low-light, it’s a good idea to stick them in a hanging basket or a high shelf because they’re toxic to both animals and people.
Bamboo Palms: Introduce the freshness of the tropical rainforest to your home with air-purifying Bamboo palms. These tall, leafy additions are the best at soaking up benzene and trichloroethylene from your couch and other fabrics in your living room. Plus, they transpire moisture, preventing your home from getting too dry during the winter. Remember, they’re used to the tropics—keep their soil moist and mist their palm leaves regularly.
Boston Ferns: As one of the first plants ever to be recognized as a houseplant, Boston ferns have had a long time to perfect their air-cleaning abilities. They’re one of the best plants for filtering toxins and molds, and you’ll find that their finely-toothed, pinnate leaves and shaggy appearance add character to the room. They’re a little higher maintenance, requiring a cool, humid place with indirect light, but anyone can easily learn how to care for them properly.
In this day and age, we have more than enough hazards to worry about. Your home should be a haven—a place where you feel safe and comfortable. Breathe a little easier knowing these guys are working day and night to keep your home fresh and clean. Drop in to one of our three local garden center locations (Lothian, Alexandria, and Belle Haven), and we’ll help you clear the air with air-purifying houseplants.