Here’s our guide on 11 Houseplants to Remove Toxins and Enhance Air Quality.
Discover how these green companions can transform your living space into a healthier, fresher environment.
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Table of Contents
The Purifying Power of Plants
In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) shed light on a concerning reality: approximately 6.7 million lives are prematurely lost each year due to a combination of outdoor and indoor air pollution.
This pressing issue gained further attention when a study published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal identified over 100 common products containing hazardous chemicals.
These pollutants have been intricately linked to a range of noncommunicable diseases, encompassing stroke, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), reproductive and developmental problems, and cancer.
Recently, a study conducted by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), in collaboration with Ambius, a plantscaping company, sought to explore the air-purifying capabilities of indoor plants.
Their findings revealed that a simple green wall made of various indoor plants was able to effectively eliminate a staggering 97% of the most toxic airborne compounds in just eight hours.
Those indoor plants were able to eradicate hazardous petrol-related pollutants, such as benzene—a recognized carcinogen— at a quick pace.
Thriving indoor plants can eliminate:
- 80% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- 20% of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide,
- 97% of the most toxic petrol-related chemicals.
In 1989, NASA conducted the first conclusive study on air-purifying plants. The results of this study have been confirmed several times since then. Good news, many effective air-purifying plants are also common and easy to care for, and they can be found in your garden or at garden centers.
Can a plant Completely purify the air in a room?
It’s important not to be misled; a few houseplants will never be enough to transform the polluted indoor air of a home into completely pure air free from pollutants, mold, and allergenic dust.
In reality, to truly purify the air in a room, you would need 2.4 plants per square meter, which is equivalent to a small forest. Considering that indoor air can be up to 8 to 10 times more polluted than outdoor air (even in urban areas), it’s also essential to take simple hygiene measures to maintain air quality:
- Ventilate the room daily.
- Monitor the room’s humidity level to prevent mold growth.
- Regularly vacuum the rooms, furniture, and carpets to eliminate as much dust as possible.
- Minimize the use of synthetic construction or decoration materials loaded with solvents (such as carpets, adhesives, insulation, paints, particleboard furniture, etc.).
- Use natural cleaning products and avoid synthetic fragrances.
- Refrain from smoking indoors and use incense and candles in moderation.
Which plants can help purify indoor air?
Or peace lily, has a comprehensive action as it is effective against benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, formaldehyde, alcohol vapors, and ammonia. This plant is also very decorative with its beautiful white flowers.
Or flamingo flower, is another plant that combines beautiful flowers with air-purifying effects. It absorbs a significant amount of xylene and ammonia.
Or snake plant, is a smoker’s ally. It absorbs formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene, among others.
Is highly effective against volatile wood treatment products, neutralizing formaldehyde and pentachlorophenol.
Absorb most pollutants, including formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, and are known for absorbing electromagnetic waves and limiting dust mite proliferation.
Especially the areca palm and Kentia palm, effectively absorb volatile compounds found in paints and building materials (xylene, toluene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and ammonia).
Cousins of palms, reduce concentrations of trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, xylene, and benzene.
Especially the Boston fern, absorb formaldehyde and xylene and are also believed to have the ability to remove heavy metals from the soil, such as mercury or arsenic.
Helps reduce air levels of formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia.
10. Ficus trees
Especially the rubber tree, prevent mold growth and effectively eliminate formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.
Or spider plants, absorb almost all pollutants, especially carbon monoxide.
How to choose the right houseplant?
- Understand Your Environment: Assess your home’s lighting conditions and choose plants that thrive in those conditions. Different windows and directions receive varying amounts of light, so select plants accordingly. Consider your personal plant-care habits, as some plants require more attention than others.
- Consider their suitability for your home environment: Some plants, like juniper bonsai and majestic palms, may not thrive indoors. Instead, opt for indoor-friendly varieties like snake plants, philodendrons, pothos, tradescantia, and ficus.
- Water Appropriately: Pay attention to your plant’s watering needs. Overwatering and underwatering are common mistakes. Use room-temperature water and adjust the frequency of watering based on your plant’s specific requirements. Consider using rainwater if possible and avoid soft water from a water softener.
- Soil & Fertilizer: For thriving houseplants, choose quality potting mix for good soil aeration, and add porous materials like orchid bark. This supports healthy roots and prevents overwatering. When fertilizing, use a “weekly, weakly” approach: fertilize regularly at half the recommended strength to avoid overdoing it and salt buildup in the soil.
- Prune and Repot When Necessary: Pruning can help rejuvenate leggy or straggly plants. Repot your plants when they outgrow their containers, but be mindful not to use pots that are too large, as this can lead to overwatering and root rot.
- Create Clusters: Instead of scattering individual pots, group plants together in clusters for a more impactful display. Mix and match plant varieties to add texture, color, and interest.
- Read Your Plants: Pay attention to your plants‘ visual cues. Drooping leaves, yellowing, or browning can indicate specific issues such as underwatering, overwatering, or inadequate light. Be observant and adjust your care routine accordingly.
Still unsure about how to proceed? Get Guidance from Plant Hero
To learn more about non-toxic living, read our articles