Transforming your home into a lush, green oasis does more than provide an aesthetically pleasing look. In addition to providing a decorative touch, indoor plants may serve as mini air purifiers. So, what plants are best for our peace of mind? And are they enough to fully purify air? Let’s take a look.
Potted Plants and Purified Air
As plant parents, there’s nothing more rewarding than keeping our green babies alive for weeks, months, years, or even decades. Coming home to a plant’s flourishing foliage can put a smile on our faces. As it turns out, it can help us breathe a little easier, too.
Indoor Plants Can Reduce Nitrogen Dioxide Levels
In a 2022 study assessing the air quality of some common, easy-to-maintain houseplants, researchers focused on nitrogen dioxide. It’s one of the most prevalent indoor air pollutants and is associated with a range of potential health consequences, including respiratory problems like asthma, cardiovascular issues, and even increased risk of premature death in newborns.
The good news is that, regardless of plant species and environment, it was found that plants have the capacity to reduce NO2 levels by as much as 20%.
Houseplants are Associated with a Modest Reduction in Ozone Removal
While you’d need a room filled from floor to ceiling with plants to harness significant benefits, indoor plants do offer some ozone removal. In 2017, researchers investigated five of the most common houseplants, discovering that they can remove up to 9% of indoor ozone.
Phytoremediation May Help to Remove Pollutants
Phytoremediation is the use of plants to remove pollutants from an environment, or minimize their harm. A 1989 NASA experiment reported that indoor plants can remove pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia. Unfortunately, more recent studies challenge these findings, often only reporting a minimal impact on pollutants.
Still, the NASA study’s author, Bill Wolverton, stands by his recommendation of using two large plants per 100 square feet of living space to remove pollutants. While the plants may not clean your bedroom or office of cancer-causing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), they’ll still look great as they provide other benefits.
The Best Air-Cleaning Plants
While thorough scientific research may not back all claims of air-purifying benefits, the following plants are associated with cleaner air. Consider planting these for a reduction in carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, alcohols, benzene, acetone, trichloroethylene, and other pollutants.
- Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
- Variegated Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
- Rubber Plants (Ficus elastica)
- Areca Palms (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
- Chinese Evergreens (Aglaonema)
- Reed or Bamboo Palms
- Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata)
- Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)
Too Green (Good) to Be True?
While indoor plants certainly have a role to play in improving our health and overall well-being, they’re not a cure-all to the many contaminants found in indoor air. There’s no harm in going overboard at the plant store (we’ve all been there!), but just know that your plant family won’t fully purify the air in your home.
VOCs remain one of the most problematic indoor air pollutants. They’re released while cooking, burning a candle, or even from our furniture. To effectively get rid of them, we’d need around 10 plants for every square foot of our homes.
An Air Purifier is the Best Way to Improve Indoor Air
No one has the space, time, or budget for that many plants! So, for the purest indoor air and true peace of mind, an AirDoctor is the best thing to have around the home. In addition to VOCs, an AirDoctor will filter out mold, pollen, pet dander, viruses, bacteria, and smoke. Unlike our plant friends, it’ll automatically make filtration adjustments based on your indoor air quality—leaving you more time to water and fertilize.