People are increasingly concerned with the quality of air in the indoor spaces in which they spend significant amounts of time. Whether it be at school, work, or at home, we are becoming more cognizant of the various forms of air pollution and steps we can take to minimize it and remediate any existing issues. There are many aspects that contribute to indoor air pollution including outdoor air quality, climate, geology, and chemicals present in our indoor spaces. Toxins can come from everything from construction materials to cleaning products we use to the materials used to manufacture our furnishings. This pollution can contribute to problems like asthma and other breathing issues and may even contribute to long-term health problems.
Indoor pollution, however, is a significant worldwide problem. People can help “clear the air” at home by becoming more aware of the issues and the toxins that contribute to the issue, and through use of houseplants and foliage to help clean the air. While people should be aware that houseplants alone will not resolve the issue entirely, they can help in creating cleaner, fresher indoor air.
This guide is designed to help households become more aware of indoor toxins and in reviewing some specific plants that can help remove them from the air. We also include some tips to keep those plants vibrant and healthy while performing their air cleaning tasks.
Table of contents
- Video – NASA study on Purifying Air
- Preface: Types of Indoor Pollution
- 1. Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis)
- 2. Areca Palm / Yellow Palm / Butterfly Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
- 3. Barberton Daisy / Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera Jamesonii)
- 4. Boston Fern / Sword Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
- 5. Chinese Evergreen / Aglaonema (Aglaonema)
- 6. Dendrobium Orchids (Dendrobium)
- 7. Dwarf Date Palm / Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
- 8. Elephant Ear (Colocasia)
- 9. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- 10. Flamingo Lily / Laceleaf / Tail Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)
- 11. Golden Pothos / Devil’s Ivy / “Money Plant” (Epipremnum aureum)
- 12. Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
- 13. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
- 14. Parlour Palm / Neanthe Bella Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
- 15. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
- 16. Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracaena reflexa)
- 17. Rubber Tree Plant (Ficus Elastica)
- 18. Snake Plant / Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
- 19. Spider Plant / Spider Ivy / Ribbon Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
- 20. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
- Keeping a Healthy Home
Video – NASA study on Purifying Air
Preface: Types of Indoor Pollution
Sources of indoor pollution can range from radon and carbon monoxide to asbestos and mold. While simple indoor plants won’t always significantly help with these major problems, they can contribute to managing indoor air pollution produced by second-hand smoke and common chemicals found in the home. Here are some common contributors to air pollution in the home:
Benzene is sometimes abbreviated as PHh and is a constituent of crude oil. It is responsible for the distinct aroma at gas stations. Because it is a known carcinogen, it use is limited in gasoline to 1% or less and is also limited in use for other products. It is a known contributor to various forms of leukemia and cardiovascular disease. Benzene contributes to indoor air pollution via automobile exhaust, gasoline fumes, cigarette smoke, pesticides, dyes, rubber, lubricants, and other household chemicals. Cigarette smoking is one of the main contributors to putting benzene in indoor air and inhalation is an easy pathway into the body.
Abbreviated industrially as TCE, Trichloroethylene has been used as an anesthetic and in industrial solvents. It is now listed as a known carcinogenic by the EPA and has been linked to Parkinson’s disease. For year’s TCE was used by industry and the U.S. military and its disposal has been a source of groundwater contamination, which is exacerbated when heated in showers when it more easily enters indoor air. Trichloroethylene has been the cause of multiple “Superfund” cleanup sites throughout the United States and the Department of Defense has some 1,400 sites nationally that are contaminated with trichloroethylene. While its use has been widely discontinued there remains groundwater contamination and indoor pollution concerns from the chemical.
Many are surprised to learn that formaldehyde is a naturally occurring organic compound. Its formula is CH2O. It is widely used in manufacturing and construction as a resin, coating and in particle board. It is extensively used in plastics and in the production of permanent press clothing. Because of its wide use in construction materials, it is considered a major contributor to indoor pollution. Its use in paints, plywood, varnishes and floor finishes creates off-gasses which are concerning. Regulating formaldehyde is complex because it naturally occurs in the environment and is such a major contributor to the economy. The EPA has taken steps to limit its use in new construction. It has been a particular concern in pre-fabricated, modular housing and mobile homes.
Also known as NH3, ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen. Although it naturally occurs in nature, especially in the decomposition of organic material, it can be particularly caustic and dangerous when in concentrated forms. Most ammonia-based products are fertilizers, but it is also used frequently in household cleaners. Rural homes near farms may experience increased levels of ammonia as an indoor air pollutant. Because it limits streaks when used as a household cleaner, ammonia is popular in glass cleaners, stainless steel cleaners, oven cleaners and more. Its use, especially when excessive, will contribute to poor indoor air quality.
Xylene is a series of petrochemicals used in fuels and solvents and in the manufacturing of plastics, polyester clothing, plastic bottles and more. It is used in the leather industry and in the production of rubbers and adhesives. It can cause dizziness, nausea, weakness, and vomiting. Because it is used extensively in construction materials, furnishings and even clothing, xylene is a significant source of indoor air pollution.
1. Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis)
Aloe Vera has multiple topical and internal benefits. Its gel has long been used as a natural healing agent for cuts and burns and is also used in soothing sunburns. It more recently has become popular as an ingredient in beverages to promote health and well-being. It is less known, perhaps, as an air toxin remover that can also serve as a monitor of indoor air quality. For example, when excessive amounts of harmful chemicals like benzene are present, the plants’ leaves develop brown spots. Aloe Vera is hearty, easy to care for and attractive. Care should be taken in the home, however, as the Aloe Vera plant can be toxic to pets and children.
Aloe Vera grows best in temperatures between 55 and 80 degrees, which makes it a perfect indoor plant. It will grow well in indirect sunlight or artificial light. Positioning it near a window that faces to the south or west is optimal. Aloe Vera plants need infrequent waterings, once every two to three weeks is usually fine, but when watering, water the plant deeply. Don’t water again until the surface soil is dry an inch or two deep. Fertilization should only be done in the spring and summer and not more than once every four to six weeks. Like most plants, they should be replanted when becoming root bound in the container.
2. Areca Palm / Yellow Palm / Butterfly Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
Areca Palms serve as attractive, hard-working indoor air purifiers that also perform as natural humidifiers. They grow about a half-foot per year and can reach heights of up to about seven feet. Their long fronds have about 100 thin, feathery leaflets each. While many start as small table-top plants, they often become large corner or hallway plants that can become a major feature of an indoor space. When properly taken care of, an Areca Palm can live up to 10 years.
An Areca Palm is not difficult to care for but will not last if neglected. They will grow best in indirect sunlight near a window or glass door that faces the south or west. In the spring and summer, the soil for the Areca Palm should be kept slightly damp. It should be allowed to dry between waterings in the fall and winter. While the Areca Palm will benefit from a palm-friendly fertilizer in the spring and perhaps a safe, spray-on fertilizer for the fronds in the summer, it should not be fertilized in the fall or winter. The Areca Palm thrives best when roots are tight, so only repot every two to three years, and in a wider, not necessarily deeper pot. Do not attempt to separate roots as they can be brittle and subject to damage. As the Areca Palm grows, it becomes an increasingly effective indoor air purifier. It is also nice to know this palm is safe for kids and pets.
3. Barberton Daisy / Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera Jamesonii)
The Barberton Daisy is an attractive indoor plant that serves to help improve indoor air. Its cheery flowers are nice to look at as well. This plant is particularly effective at removing trichloroethylene and benzene from the air. It is a perfect plant for tables, counters and window sills and is safe for pets and children. This plant grows readily outdoors, and with proper care, it can last for two to three years indoors.
Caring for the Barberton Daisy can be a bit touch and go because while it needs bright light, it also thrives in cooler temperatures. If you are not cautious, for example, placing it in a window in direct light in the summer could be harmful. In fact, anytime temperatures near the plant exceed 70 degrees it could be at risk. In the darkness of winter, light may need to be supplemented artificially. The plant should be watered deeply each time the soil gets dry down to about an inch. Any excess water in the tray should be disposed of to prevent root rot. It only needs fertilization during the spring and summer. Blooms should be pinched upon wilting and dead foliage should be removed as necessary.
4. Boston Fern / Sword Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Boston Ferns are particularly beautiful when planted in hanging planters and allowed to overflow. They are lush, green and work tirelessly to clean indoor air. They are efficient at removing formaldehyde and xylene from the air. Like most of our indoor natural air purifiers, these toxins are changed into a usable form in the plants’ root system. It is safe to grow around pets and children.
A healthy Boston Fern takes a combination of indirect lighting and high humidity. This means hanging it in front of a window is not a good idea, while it may thrive in a nearby corner. The soil of a Boston Fern should be kept damp and in the winter, in particular, it may need an assist in increasing humidity. This can be done by misting the plants foliage once or twice a week. This also can serve to keep the soil properly hydrated. An indication of lack of humidity is when the foliage begins turning yellow. In the proper light, humidity and with moist soil, the Boston Fern needs little fertilizer, perhaps only a few times annually. A properly cared-for Boston Fern can provide years of beauty and air purification qualities.
5. Chinese Evergreen / Aglaonema (Aglaonema)
The Chinese Evergreen is a terrific choice as an indoor air cleaning plant even for those who have struggled with plants in the past. It is durable, tolerant and easy to care for. It will maintain its beautiful, tropical appearance even in low light and dry air and is forgiving if you miss a watering. Of course, the better care it receives the more vibrant it will be. The Chinese Evergreen comes in multiple varieties. It is similar to a Snake Plant and Devil’s Ivy. If you are in search of an easy to care for indoor air toxin remover the Chinese Evergreen is an excellent choice.
Chinese Evergreens grow best in a slightly sandy soil that drains well. It will do equally well in low light or indirect sunlight. They will grow best in temps ranging from 60 to 70 degrees. Cool drafts will tend to turn the leaves brown. These plants will tolerate under-watering better than over-watering which can rot the roots. Soil should be slightly dry before watering. Leaves can be trimmed without harming the plant and cuttings will root in water to start new plants. Older Chinese Evergreens may produce blooms in the spring or summer which will produce seeds. The wide leaves of the Chinese Evergreen can become dusty over time which can be resolved by gently wiping them with a soft damp cloth. It also can be rinsed in a shower and allowed to air dry. Caution should be taken with Chinese Evergreen plants as they can be toxic if eaten by animals or children.
6. Dendrobium Orchids (Dendrobium)
Like other orchids, Dendrobium Orchids can be a bit fussy to maintain, but owners are rewarded with beautiful tall blooms and a plant that works to provide cleaner indoor air. Dendrobium Orchids are believed to have medicinal qualities and are frequently used in Eastern medicine. There are easier to care for plants to clean airbut few have the beauty of Dendrobium Orchids.
Dendrobium Orchids will grow best in pots that are small, especially when compared to their height. Watering should only be done about twice weekly and the soil should nearly be dry when watering. Water that has been softened using salt or distilled water should not be used. Plants should be watered over a sink, using water that is room temperature. Allow the water to drain through the plant for about 30 seconds or so and let drain thoroughly. Dendrobium Orchids enjoy bright light but not direct sunlight. They can thrive in heat as long as the room is well ventilated and humidity is provided. They will do well in temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees. This plant should be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer that is at quarter strength. It can be fertilized once weekly with this diluted fertilizer. Dendrobium Orchids need room to breathe and should not be placed in a confined area. They also will do better in high humidity. These plants are safe to have around pets and children.
7. Dwarf Date Palm / Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
The Dwarf, or Pygmy Date Palm, know for its medicinal and religious significance, is also an excellent remover of toxins in indoor air. When nurtured properly, the Date Palm can grow leaves up to a foot long and to heights ranging from six to twelve feet. They can produce red berries that will turn black when ripe. When mature, this magnificent palm can be a big addition to the décor of any room.
Pygmy Date Palms like somewhat sandy soil that drains well. While they appreciate moist soil they do not thrive in soaking wet conditions. It is best to plant a Dwarf Date Palm in a pot with drain holes and empty any residual water from the dish under the pot after watering. Once a week watering is usually sufficient. Pygmy Date Palms only need to be fertilized two to three times annually using a fertilizer designed specifically for palm trees. This palm will grow in a variety of lighting conditions ranging from darker to bright. It is a good idea to clean leaves occasionally by putting it in a shower, leaving it outside in a rain shower or by misting spray hose. This tree is safe around children and pets.
8. Elephant Ear (Colocasia)
Elephant Ear Plants get their name from their large, heart-shaped leaves that have an elephant ear-like appearance. The foliage on these plants can range in color from a purple-black color to green and white variegated shades. These plants can grow to be rather large, up to three feet or more and are usually grown as outdoor plants, but with proper care can serve as excellent indoor air toxin removers.
Because of their potential growth, Elephant Ear Plants should be planted in a large pot.Use a well-draining soil that includes some peat and sand. Elephant Ear Plants are pretty hardy and although they can grow in direct sunlight, they will do best in indirect sunlight. They need high humidity so a humidifier in the room where they are placed can help. Room temperatures should be kept between 65 and 75 degrees. Also, putting the pot on stones raising it above the water in a drain dish will add more humidity. Be careful so roots aren’t soaking in water to prevent root rot. Plants should be fertilized about twice a month using a 20-10-10 fertilizer that is diluted by 50%. While the plant may flower outdoors it rarely does so when grown indoors. This plant’s leaves can be toxic and should be kept away from kids and pets.
9. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
When NASA lists it as the number one indoor air purifying plant one should take notice. Not only does English Ivy remove formaldehyde from indoor air, but it has been shown to be 94% effective in reducing airborne mold. English Ivy just also happens to be used as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory. This gem of a plant has also been known to reduce fatigue and allergies. It looks nice flowing from a shelf or climbing an indoor topiary. In can be toxic when ingested by pets or children.
The first thing to know about English Ivy is that it needs plenty of bright light to grow at its best. Direct sunlight in the summer, however, can burn its leaves indoors and jeopardize its well-being. It will thrive in humid rooms and enjoys cooler temperatures in the 60’s. It will grow in just about any potting soil and needs only to be watered once its soil gets dry. It needs fertilizer only about once a month and only through the spring, summer and fall. English Ivy has tiny roots that that will attach themselves to walls and shelving, potentially causing damage so growth should be closely monitored. The ivy can be trimmed easily and cuttings will sprout roots in water easily. English Ivy is fast growing and a superb choice for removing formaldehyde and other toxins from a home.
10. Flamingo Lily / Laceleaf / Tail Flower (Anthurium andraeanum)
If you are looking for a hardworking indoor air cleaning that has the added benefit of being beautiful, consider the Flamingo Lily. To be upfront, it can be a challenge to grow indoors and novices may want to start elsewhere. For those with a bit of a green thumb, the Flamingo Lily is a top clean-air performer. Tests have shown it to be effective at removing a series of airborne contaminants including ammonia, formaldehyde, and xylene. Caution should be taken to keep the Flamingo Lily away from children and pets as it is toxic and can cause almost immediate health issues.
The Flamingo Lily needs plenty of indirect sunlight to thrive. Leaves, however, can burn in direct sunlight. Humidity is critical and an indoor air humidifier may be the only way to ensure it gets enough. Setting the potted plant on stones or pebbles in a water-filled dish can also help increase humidity. It will do best in warm areas that are kept in the 70 to 90-degree range. The soil also needs to stay damp without soaking but should dry slightly between waterings. A humus type soil will often work best as it drains well. If the soil is allowed to dry, it will cause harm to the plant. The Flamingo Lily only needs to be fertilized about once a month and any flowering plant fertilizer will do. This plant can be damaged by salt accumulation in the soil so once a month the soil should be thoroughly rinsed. When carefully nurtured the Flamingo Lily will not just pay off in cleaner air but in attractive blooms.
11. Golden Pothos / Devil’s Ivy / “Money Plant” (Epipremnum aureum)
Golden Pothos or “Devil’s Ivy” is popular as a houseplant because it is relatively easy to care for. They are distinguishable due to their yellow and green, heart-shaped leaves. Golden Pothos is a fast growing ivy plant that will climb up on anything placed into the pot where it grows.It is a good air toxin remover and works well at ridding homes of formaldehyde in the air. Its vegetation can be harmful to children and pets.
Golden Pothos will do just fine in dark areas but will also do well in bright indirect light. Yellow variegations will become more prominent in brighter light. Soil can be kept moist but avoid from soaking the roots of this plant. Water more frequently in the spring and summer. In the fall and winter watering should be decreased. Golden Pothos plants will only need fertilizer once per month using a balanced fertilizer. Cuts can be taken from the Golden Pathos and can be root-started in water.
12. Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron hederaceum)
The Heartleaf Philodendron has shiny, dark green heart-shaped leaves that make it an attractive air purifying plant. It is generally used as a table or countertop plant or as a hanging plant. This is another excellent choice for cleaning indoor air as it performs well in cleaning airborne formaldehyde and other toxins. One of the reasons the Heartleaf Philodendron is so popular is it is almost impossible to kill through neglect. Its foliage is poisonous, however, and care should be taken to keep leaves away from children and pets.
Direct prolonged sunlight is one of the weaknesses of the Heartleaf Philodendron. It will grow in dim light but will prosper in indirect light. This plant is so easy to care for it will even tell you if it is getting too little water (brown leaves) or too much (yellowing leaves). Water the plant until the soil is thoroughly damp and it won’t need watering again until it is dry about half-way down into the pot. This philodendron will grow better in warmer, humid air but will typically do well regardless. It should be fertilized about once a month in spring and summer using any basic houseplant fertilizer at about half-strength. This plant will not bloom indoors and should only be re-potted when root bound. If you desire a full-looking plant, longer extending vines should be trimmed. The plant can be propagated through stem cuttings. If leaves get dusty, they can be wiped with a soft, damp cloth, sprayed in a shower or misted with a garden hose.
13. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
Lady Palms have upright stalks with fronds containing a series of fan-like thin leaves. They are an excellent indoor air pollution control plant and make a beautiful addition to any home. They are often used in entranceways, hallways and in corners where their majestic appearance can be best appreciated. Their needs are modest but have to be properly met for a Lady Palm to grow its best.
Lady Palm plants grow best in indoor temperatures that range from 60 to 80 degrees.They prefer bright, indirect light throughout the day. During the spring and summer, the plants should be watered when the soil is dry down to about an inch deep. During the fall and winter, they can wait until the soil is dry two inches deep prior to watering. It is important that Lady Palm plants receive thorough waterings, but excess water that drains through the soil should be emptied from the dish under the pot after about ten minutes. Water can also be kept from rotting the roots by placing the pot on pebbles that elevate it from any water in the dish or tray underneath. Lady Palms should be re-potted in increasing large pots as it becomes root bound. When it reaches its desired height, you should still repot about every two years, but do so in fresh soil in the same size pot. A Lady Palm should only be fertilized in the spring and summer with a houseplant or palm-based fertilizer diluted 50%. Frequently, when Lady Palm plants look stressed it is from too little light, too much fertilizer or too much water. The Lady Palm can be toxic to children and/or pets.
14. Parlour Palm / Neanthe Bella Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Because they are slow growing and reach a manageable size, Parlour Palms are a popular plant for smaller areas like table and countertops and even in terrariums. NASA gives this clean-air plant a high purifying score due to its stellar performance in removing benzene and trichloroethylene that are often given as off-gasses from furniture. Many homeowners appreciate the Parlour Palm not only for its air-purifying qualities but for its attractive, rich green, thin leaves.
The Parlour Palm will thrive even in shaded areas of a home but will also do well in indirect light. Direct sunlight should be avoided. It does well in humid areas and soil should be kept evenly moist. The Parlour Palm can be watered frequently during the growing spring and summer seasons but watering should be reduced in the fall and winter. The Parlour Palm will indicate it is being watered too frequently when leaves begin to turn brown. The plant can be fertilized monthly with a balanced house plant fertilizer. The Parlour Palm has the additional benefit of being safe for kids and pets. If you would enjoy an indoor palm but have limited space, this is a superior choice that will thank you with cleaner indoor air quality.
15. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
In the wild, the Peace Lily grows on the floor of tropical forests where it is kept moist and receives spotty sunlight. Duplicating these conditions indoors will help grow a plant successfully. As an air purifier, the Peace Lily does well at removing ammonia and other cleaning producttoxins from indoor air. At the same time, it can help humidify indoor air. As its name suggests it gives off a peaceful vibe and is very popular as a houseplant. Its vegetation contains calcium oxalate which can be toxic in larger amounts, so it is best to keep a Peace Lily away from pets and children.
The Peace Lily will grow best in well-draining soil in a pot with drain holes. It is best to keep the soil moist without leaving the base in standing water. You can support the pot with pebbles allowing to roots to “sip” from any water in the tray without soaking the root system completely. Watering with filtered, tepid water is best. Re-potting the plant in fresh soil annually will help the Peace Lily thrive. When it grows too big for the container it is best to divide it as opposed to placing it in a bigger pot. If these plants get enough indirect sunlight they can produce white blooms that will continue through summer. As with other tropical plants it is best to keep them in temperatures above 60 degrees and away from cold and drafty conditions. The Peace Lily doesn’t need much plant food so a balanced fertilizer used once every six weeks through the spring and early summer is usually sufficient.
16. Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracaena reflexa)
The Red-Edged Dracaena is a low maintenance, fast growing houseplant that serves as a good toxin remover for indoor air. It can grow as rapidly as a foot and a half per year when it is young. Ultimately, it can achieve heights of 10 feet or more. It is toxic to pets and children.
For best results, place the Red-Edged Dracaena in an area where it can receive moderate to bright, but indirect light. Its leaves will provide an indication of the quality of light it is getting. Brown leaves are a sign it is getting too much light. Pale leaves are an indication it is getting too little light. Room temperatures where the plant is kept should be between 65 and 75 degrees. If bottom leaves brown and fall it indicates the plant has gotten chilled. One of the biggest threats to a Red-Edged Dracaena is over-watering. It should only be watered when the soil is dry an inch down. When it is watered, it should be thorough but there shouldn’t be standing water in the drain tray. The plant can be fed with most houseplant fertilizers about every two weeks in the spring and summer. Once per month is sufficient in the fall and winter. The plant should be re-potted to a larger pot about every two years until it reaches the desired height. If it begins to grow too tall, the top can be trimmed off. While it will appear odd for a while, the leaves will grow back in just a few weeks.
17. Rubber Tree Plant (Ficus Elastica)
Rubber Tree plants are a powerful toxin remover and air purifier when grown indoors. Out of doors, they can grow to 50 feet tall so it is best to start with a small plant you can grow to a desired height indoors. They are particularly good at removing airborne formaldehyde so are beneficial when used in areas where glued-furniture is often used, like offices. These are interesting and beautiful plants that aren’t as difficult to grow as one may think. They will need to be kept away from children and pets, however, for leaves can be toxic.
As with most indoor plants, the key to a thriving Rubber Tree is the right combination of light and water. It will do well in bright light as long as it is not direct sunlight that could provide too much heat. Near windows is good or in front of windows with window shades, sheers or blinds that can filter the light. During the spring and summer growing season the soil should be kept damp but not wet. Tepid or even warm water will work best. The soil can be allowed to be a bit dryer in the fall and winter. Off-season watering can be reduced to once or twice per month. If a rubber tree plant gets too much moisture leaves will eventually turn yellow or brown and drop from the plant. When leaves begin to droop it could be a sign the plant needs more water. If a leaf does fall off, cutting a small slit in the node where it was growing can promote additional growth. Cuttings will easily grow roots in damp soil or plain water should you choose to propagate a Rubber Tree plant. Leaves can be gently wiped with a damp cloth or misted to keep them clean.
18. Snake Plant / Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Snake Plants or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue have been described as tough, resilient, durable and simple to care for. There are about six dozen types of Snake Plants that can grow anywhere from about a foot or so to 12 feet tall. These plants are a powerful air toxin and odor remover that work through the night. Snake Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, so a bedroom is a good location. This remarkable plant has also been shown to be effective in treating headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory issues. It also increases overall energy levels. The only real downside to the Snake Plant is its toxicity if ingested and could cause vomiting or diarrhea. Care must be taken when pets or children are nearby.
Taking care of a Snake Plant is as easy as keeping it in indirect sunlight and not over-watering. You can help ensure its growth by planting it in soil that drains well. Remove any excess water from the saucer or tray under the pot after watering. Allow the soil to dry between waterings which should be infrequent in the winter months. The plant will thrive in indirect sunlight but it is also tolerant to slightly brighter or darker areas in the home. Any general houseplant food or fertilizer will do during the growing seasons. It should be fertilized once or twice per month during spring and summer. Repot in increasing larger pots until the Snake Plant achieves the desired height.
19. Spider Plant / Spider Ivy / Ribbon Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider Plants get their name from the spiderette type of baby plants that easily grow from the mother plant. They are why oftentimes the spider plant is grown from a hanging pot or basket to allow these spiderettes to dangle freely as they grow. Spider Plants can be found in both green and variegated varieties. They are effective air toxin removers, fighting benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide as well as xylene. Its relaxed “go with the flow” nature also reduces stress. It is a non-toxic plant.
Caring for a Spider Plant is easy. Make sure it has well-draining soil and keep it in a brighter area of the home and it almost takes care of itself. In fact, the biggest challenge may be keeping its spider-like baby plants from taking over. The plants do particularly well in cooler 55-65 degree temperatures. Water only when the soil begins to dry out. They’ll need occasional pruning to keep them in check. Spider Plants do well when slightly root bound and should only be transplanted when large roots begin to surface in the soil. Spidettes can be grown from a mother by placing the baby plant in a planter of its on with well-watered soil. When the baby plant roots in its new home it can be detached from the mother plant. Slight browning of the leaf tips is common and can be a sign there is too much salt in the soil. Thoroughly flushing the soil with fresh water and allowing it to drain will help resolve the issue.
20. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
The Weeping Fig is a popular, non-toxic indoor air purifier that is tree-like. It looks elegant in an entranceway or corner and when properly cared for, will provide years of enjoyment. Native to Southeast Asia and India, it has become one of the most popular indoor plants across the globe.
Weeping Figs thrive in bright light and can benefit even from direct sunlight in the morning. This plant requires moist soil but allowing it to sit in water will cause root-rot problems. When it drops leaves it is an indication of over-watering. This is why it will grow best in a fast draining potting soil. This is a voracious plant that will need lots of fertilizer in the spring and early summer growing season. One of the biggest complaints about the Weeping Fig is its tendency to drop leaves. This can be from excessive watering, but it may also occur because a watering schedule changed or when you begin to water less in the off-season. Special attention needs to be paid to not over or under water the Weeping Fig.
Keeping a Healthy Home
Whether it’s mold, secondhand smoke, carbon monoxide or the toxic chemicals in household furniture, clothing and cleaners, indoor air can be filled with pollutants. They can create breathing problems like asthma and negatively impact allergies. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to help fight these indoor air toxins. Some of the easiest, most affordable and pleasant ways to get cleaner indoor air is by selecting the right plant or plants to do the job naturally. Indoor spaces with live plants tend to be brighter, fresher and more welcoming. They can add a certain warmth to an area that can be difficult to otherwise accomplish.
The more you know about the air cleaning qualities of plants and how to best take care of them, the more enjoyable your indoor space will be. It will also be healthier for those who spend time there. You may choose an easy to care for plant like the Spider Plant or a more challenging option like the Flamingo Lily. Whatever your choice, growing indoor plants can be rewarding in many ways.