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Improve your home’s air quality – one potted plant at a time.

July 2020

House plants with air purifying superpowers.

According to the EPA, our homes can have three to five times more pollutants than the outdoors. So, while we’re indoors, we may also be breathing in substances that can produce symptoms like headaches, sore throats, or allergies.

Fortunately, there’s an easy home remedy. Follow in the footsteps of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and pot some plants.

The 1989 NASA Clean Air Study was designed to find ways to detox the air in the space station. It revealed that certain household plants are capable of filtering certain toxins out of the air – among them, formaldehyde (upholstery, air fresheners), benzene (furniture wax, insect sprays), trichloroethylene (cleaners, adhesives), and carbon monoxide.

This study has been the basis for newer studies about the air purifying abilities of indoor plants.

Yes, you can invest in an air purifier. But you also can opt for a more natural and cost-effective option. NASA recommends two or three plants in 8 to 10-inch pots for every 100 square feet of space.

15 Best Air-Purifying Plants, according to NASA

Dwarf Date Palm

This hardy and drought-resistant palm is noted for its ability to filter out xylene. But it’s a slow grower and has sharp, needle-like spines that can penetrate through skin and clothing.

Boston Fern

The Boston Fern thrives in low light and high humidity, so, put one in the bathroom. According to NASA, it’s the top house plant for removing formaldehyde.

Kimberly Queen Fern

This tidy, upright fern can be grown indoors and out. Put Kimberly on your deck or hang her close to the garage. It will help filter the xylene found in vehicle exhaust.

Spider Plant

This variegated spiller sends out “spiderettes” that flower and eventually grow into baby spider plants. It’s also a workhorse at removing air impurities like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.

Chinese Evergreen

This slow-growing evergreen plant thrives in low to medium light and filters formaldehyde and benzene. But beware if you have pets or young kids, as it’s toxic when ingested.

Bamboo Palm

This elegant palm helps keep indoor air moist – a plus in winter months. It also removes benzene and formaldehyde. But it does need extra TLC like monthly fertilizing and regular misting.

Weeping Fig

This easy-care plant is extremely efficient at clearing the air of formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Keep it out of direct sunlight and the weeping fig will flourish happily for years.

Devils Ivy

Great for newbies, this plant is lush, hardy, cheap and grows in many different directions. It’s also considered one of the best indoor air purifiers of benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene.

Flamingo Lily

This showy evergreen plant is known for its heart shaped red flowers and ability to remove airborne formaldehyde ammonia, toluene, and xylene. Warning: Toxic to pets and kids.

Lily Turf

Why grow this popular outdoor groundcover indoors? It helps remove trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia.

Broadleaf Lady Palm

With a maximum height of about six feet, this palm does well in a corner with low sunlight. It’s also a giant at removing formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and toluene. 

Barberton Daisy

These cheerful daisies can be grown indoors and flower for up to six weeks. Enjoy the colorful blooms as the dark green leaves filter out formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. 

Cornstalk Dracaena

This hardy, low light plant doesn’t yield ears of corn. But it does rid your home of toxins like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene. And it will forgive you if you miss a watering.

English Ivy

This ivy is the ultimate antidote for at-home salon treatments with keratin, hair coloring, perms, hair-straightening, and nail polish. This classic hanging plant filters out trichlorethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene.

Variegated Snake Plant

It’s perfect for the bathroom because it requires humidity. Plus, it can filter out the formaldehyde in cleaning products, facial tissues, toilet paper, and hair treatments and dyes.

Red-Edged Dracaena

Don’t do home improvements without this easy-to-grow plant. It’s a pro at removing trichloroethylene – which is found in everything from paint removers and strippers to adhesives and aerosol degreasers. 

Peace Lily

The lush and beautiful peace lily is known for having an excellent air filtering system. It also soaks up mold spores. Warning: Toxic to cats and dogs.

Florist’s Chrysanthemum

Come fall, bring a few mums indoors. This plant reduced the levels of every harmful pollutant NASA studied. And if you deadhead the flowers, you’ll have blooms for up to eight weeks. Warning: Toxic to cats and dogs.

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