Ten Houseplants that Improve Air Quality

In 1989, NASA published a study reporting that houseplants could remove cancer-causing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene from the air. This study, originally conducted with the purpose of learning how to clean the air in space stations, would also have big implications for our homes on earth, as well. The same chemicals that NASA wanted to remove from enclosed space stations also fill the air of our homes and workspaces, thanks to cleaning products and interior finishes such as paint, carpet and furnishings. Today, the average person spends 90% of their time indoors, so indoor air quality is of great concern.

According to NASA, including 1 or 2 houseplants per 100 square feet of space is enough to purify the air. But some plants are better at removing toxins than others. Surface area is important, so the bigger the leaves, the better. Here are ten east-to-grow houseplants that can make wonderful additions to your home or office:

Pothos

Pothos

Anthurium

Anthurium

Pothos

Often confused with philodendron, this low-maintenance vine is one of the most versatile plants. Sometimes called ‘devil’s ivy’ it’s heart shaped leaves come in an expansive selection of hues from dark green to a nearly neon yellow. Many varieties also have marbled variegation from yellow to white to light green. They look great as a mounded tabletop plant, in a hanging basket, and can even be trained to grow upright on a pole. They tolerate low light but brighter conditions will make variegated varieties more defined.

Peace Lily

Peace lilies have glossy leaves and long-lasting flowers surrounded by a spathe as is typical for aroid species. Peace lilies are a favorite indoor plant. They flower best when root bound and when thriving can bloom twice a year. Peace Lilies like high-humidity, so mist frequently. Do not over-water, but don’t allow soil to dry completely between waterings. If the plant collapses due to dryness, water as normal and wait for the plant to perk up again. This can take several hours.

Dracaena

This beautiful houseplant has colorful yellow-and-green-striped leaves and a single upright stem. It is often called a ‘corn plant’ because it resembles a decorative corn stalk. Several can be planted together for a more full display. When it grows too tall, cut back the stem to one foot tall and new growth will form under the cut.

Snake Plant

The snake plant is a succulent that tolerates neglect. The only problem these plants seem to develop is root rot when over watered so don’t be afraid to leave them on the drier side. They offer an interesting contrast to other house plants with their solid, tall, sword shaped leaves.

Anthurium

Part of the arum family, like Peace Lilies, Anthuriums have unique flowers enclosed by vibrant red spathes, which are the most colorful part of the plant. Leaves are dark green and shiny. They need good light, but not direct light, to grow best inside the home.

English Ivy

If you have bright light, English Ivy can be a great plant to have in a hanging pot by a window. It’s easy to grow and there are leaf variances to choose from: white and green variegated, yellow and green variegated, or dark green. English Ivy also makes a great complement to other plants in arrangements, such as orchids.

Benjamin Fig

One of the more popular houseplants, the Benjamin Fig creates instant vertical appeal inside the home. Leaves are dark green or variegated, and branches droop downwards, giving it a weeping effect. When grown indoors, it can reach 10 feet tall. Grow in bright, indirect light.

Bamboo Palm

Bamboo Palm

Spider Plant

This striking plant is great in hanging baskets or on a shelf where its “babies” can hang over the edge. Most cultivars are of the variegated sort. They require medium to bright light and water about once a week.

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen is very easy to grow, considered one of the best for beginner’s. You’ll find many different types of Chinese Evergreens with varying shades of leaf color and variegation, from pink to green. They also are extremely tolerant to low light and low humidity.

Bamboo Palm

As it names suggests, this palm has slender trunks that resemble bamboo. Leaves are green and feathery. It requires consistent moisture to thrive, but does not like becoming over-wet. It can tolerate low-light conditions but prefers bright, indirect light for best long-term growth.