It only takes bringing a few plants into your home to understand why some people are wild about plants and plant care. They add a certain element that just can’t be matched; a combination of color, texture, and the routine of caring for them. In 1989, NASA ran studies that showed plants can remove toxins from the air. Since then, extensive studies have come to show that plants are an excellent natural alternative to air purifiers and can remove chemicals commonly found in glues, cleaning products, synthetics like rubber and plastic, and more. To get the most out of this natural purifying option, you’ll need several plants per room. Since some plants are better purifiers than others, it’s a safe route to pick a variety.
Consider too, that some house plants are toxic to animals and children. You can search on the ASPCA website for more information about specific plants.
Here are our favorite options for plant purifiers:
Devil’s Ivy (Pothos)
This plant not only helps purify the air from unwanted toxins, but it is also easy to maintain. It can survive almost any light condition, but will grow faster in brighter light. It is forgiving if you forget to water it, but with regular watering once the soil is dry, it’ll grow long. I have a brown thumb. Really, I can kill plastic plants! But even I can grow this plant. The majority in my house are over a decade old and they still look vibrant and healthy.
Removes these toxins: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene fumes, (often found in recently painted or furnished rooms)
A beautiful addition to any home, Peace Lillies are effective in reducing several toxins commonly found in households. They are best for homes or spaces where animals and young children won’t be near, as they are toxic to humans and animals. Peace Lillies require medium, filtered light and will begin to produce yellow leaves if they are overexposed to light. You’ll have to get to know your Peace Lily, as watering needs greatly depend on the room they are in, lighting, and how dry the environment is in.
Removes these toxins: benzene, formaldehyde, and carbon monoxide
Popular due to their beautiful color and wide leaves, rubber plants are relatively easy to maintain. They do require a spot in the house that receives adequate light (although not direct). Wait until the soil is dry before you water again.
Removes these toxins: carbon dioxide, xylene, benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, as well as other bacteria and spores
Dwarf Date palm
Dwarf or Pygmy palms are the babies of the palm family. They can grow in partial shade, all the way to full sun, allowing for flexibility in what part of your home they can be placed. Pygmy palms require a regular watering schedule and well-draining soil. A bonus about these plants is that they are non-toxic for cats and dogs, so you can rest assured your animal friends will be safe. I love this plant- it adds a tropical, fun look to any home.
Removes these toxins: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene
A perfect plant for tight spaces and when you need a little green in the room, the Snake plant is easy to care for. It tolerates low light and relatively light watering (generally once a week). The snake plant is one of the best plants for filtering out formaldehyde, commonly found in cleaning products, toilet paper, and tissues. In studies, it has been shown that in an airtight room, 6-8 plants can produce enough oxygen to breathe normally. Now, that’s a productive plant!
Removes these toxins: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, mold spores, and toluene
The spider plant is one of the few house plants that is non-toxic, so safe for animals. This plant can do well in low light conditions- like those darker corners in the house. But, they’ll do much better in brighter light (but not direct). The spider plant is easy to propagate- just use the smaller “spiderettes” to add to your plant family. Through this method I’ve been able to help friends and family start their own gardens. It too is easy for a brown thumb to grow and maintain.
Removes these toxins: carbon monoxide, xylene (a solvent used in printing and rubber industries).
Beyond the purifying element that plants contribute to a household, recent Japanese studies have shown that plants benefit our mental health. Even just spending three minutes caring and gazing at plants can lower pulse rates and contribute to a moment of relaxation. Try adding a few plants to your work space or bedroom to benefit from all they contribute- you may find yourself developing a green thumb sooner than you think!