Who needs an indoor air-purifier when nature can do the job for us?
A NASA study from 1989 found that houseplants help purify indoor air, diffusing a number of pollutants found in everyday household products like formaldehyde, benzene, Trichloroethylene, and more. In high volumes, these chemicals can cause minor irritation in your eyes, nose, and mouth—and even more worrisome troubles, like headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting.
The NASA study concluded that the more plants you have, the better. It recommends two plants per 100 square feet in your home.
Now to the fun part: choosing which air-purifying plants to bring into your home!
Below, we’ve listed 8 great indoor plants for purifying the air.
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a pretty plant that works double duty: not only does it offer relief to those minor sunburns, but it also purifies your air, clearing it of formaldehyde and benzene—chemicals found in common households, like detergents, floor finishings, and varnishes.
Caring for Your Aloe Vera:
“Succulents thrive on neglect,” as the common saying goes. While it’s true that succulents don’t prefer not to be smothered with your love, they do require specific light, soil, and watering conditions to do well.
As with any succulent, aloe vera likes dry conditions: plant in well-draining cactus soil. Choose a pot that is only slightly larger than your aloe vera plant; these succulents prefer confined roots and won’t do well in pots that are much larger than the plant itself.
Standing water and overwatering are both quick tickets to root rot. Only water your aloe vera after the soil has gone completely dry. When watering, thoroughly soak the soil, but allow it to freely drain—that’s why holes in your pots are so important.
Aloe vera plants love to sunbathe: give them plenty of bright, direct sunlight. A south or west-facing windowsill is the best home for these succulents.
2. Barberton Daisy
For the advanced green thumb gardener, bringing this colorful daisy indoors can help purify your air of chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene.
Caring for Your Barberton Daisy:
Barberton daisies are a bit like Goldilocks: they need sunlight, temperature, and watering to be just right in order to survive indoors and produce their beautiful white, red, orange, pink, or purple flowers.
The first step will be finding a spot in your home that provides enough light, but isn’t beaming direct hot sunlight onto your plant; otherwise the leaves will wilt. Direct sunlight in the morning will do just fine, but afternoon sunlight is often too strong for this daisy.
Additionally, daisies want to keep it cool: temperatures above 70°F simply won’t do.
When the topsoil begins to feel dry, it’s time to water. Like aloe vera, allow the pot to completely drain through the hole after watering to prevent root rot. This plant needs more water in the summer months than the winter months, but avoid letting the soil go completely dry during any season.
3. Bamboo Palm
Go to bat with benzene and formaldehyde when you bring a bamboo palm into your space.
Caring for Your Bamboo Palm:
A palm is a tropical plant—so it wants direct sunlight, right?
Not so with the bamboo palm. This palm prefers indirect or filtered sunlight. A southeast-facing window should work best.
Thoroughly water to moisten the soil; allow soil to dry out between each watering. Make sure water doesn’t collect in the drainage tray after you water to avoid root rot.
Bamboo palms also have temperature preferences: in the non-winter months, between 70°F – 80°F is the name of the game for daytime temps, with nothing lower than 60°F at night. However in the winter, when growth is dormant, it prefers lower temperatures between 55°F – 60°F at night.
If you notice your palm’s fronds begin to yellow or dry, remove these using sharp shears.
Like aloe vera plants, the bamboo palm enjoys confined roots, so only report every 2 – 3 years.
4. English Ivy
Dreaming of adding hanging plants to your home? Look no further than the charming English Ivy. This hardy plant not only looks great in a hanging basket, but also filters out trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene, often found in common salon products.
Caring for Your English Ivy:
As a low-light tolerant plant in need of watering only when the topsoil has gone dry, this is a great plant pick for beginners. When choosing a home for your new English ivy, settle your plant away from drafts or vents.
5. Money Tree
If only money grew on trees… but hey, the money tree is still a great addition to your decor. The money tree removes pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air. But beware: the money tree is highly toxic to animals and children if ingested, so keep this in a location away from them.
Caring for Your Money Tree:
Plant your money tree in peat moss soil. Like other plants, a pot with a drainage hole is necessary. Let the top 2 – 4 inches of soil dry out completely between each watering. Soak the soil completely until the water drains from the pot.
In NASA’s study, the Pothos gets top marks for purifying the air of benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, carbon monoxide and xylene.
Caring for Your Pothos:
Pothos is another beginner-friendly plant that can tolerate a range of low-light to bright indirect light. Plant in nutrient-rich soil and water when the soil goes dry.
You can also grow pothos directly in water, too. Learn how to grow pothos in water here.
7. Snake Plant
(Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
A snake plant, also known as Mother-in-law’s tongue, is another trendy, easy-to-grow plant that will clean your air of chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene.
Caring for Your Snake Plant:
Unlike other plants that cease producing oxygen at night due to the lack of sunlight, the snake plant continues producing oxygen through the night, making it a great fit for your bedroom.
Snake plants do well in almost any light condition, though they are fond of medium light conditions. You can go 2 – 3 weeks between watering your snake plant. Just make sure the water is completely (and we do mean completely) dry between waterings.
8. Spider Plant
Last but not least, we bring you the spider plant. This plant purifying powerhouse cleans the air of carbon monoxide and xylene. Additionally, the NASA study found that it can even remove the majority of formaldehyde from a sealed room within a 24 hour period.
Caring for Your Spider Plant
Add this one to the Beginner Plants 101 list. These tough plants will do well in bright, indirect light, and prefer to go completely dry between each watering. Unlike some of the other plants on our list, the spider plant is nontoxic to pets and children.