Have you ever thought about just how integral plants are for our survival and a healthy environment? It’s not pseudoscience. Plants are wonders of nature and truly our friends. Not only do they convert our carbon dioxide waste into oxygen, but they also have the ability to filter the very air we breathe. Through a process called phytoremediation, a plant’s roots and leaves absorb toxins from the air, and along with the help of microorganisms living in the plant’s soil, they leave the environment cleaner and fresher.
Realistically, it would take quite a few plants to make a huge impact in a large open-air space, but for smaller areas that generally feel stale and closed in, such as an office or a bedroom, certain houseplants may actually help you feel refreshed and relaxed as they do their “dirty” work. This is because bringing nature indoors is calming, beautiful, and good for the soul.
So what are some plants that you might want to incorporate into your home and office?
1. Aloe Vera
My top choice is the beautiful succulent known as Aloe Vera. Not only does it work to scrub the air of benzene and formaldehyde particles (which are ingredients in paint and chemical cleaners), but traditionally aloe has been used as a wonderful natural medicine for minor burns, as well. Simply snap off a “leaf” and apply the sticky gel trapped inside to your burn or sunburn for instant relief and long-term healing. Plus it is generally considered helpful for various skin conditions when applied topically.
It is easy to grow indoors and thrives on minimal sunlight. It is low maintenance and one of the hardest houseplants to kill, even if you don’t have a green thumb. No matter what, you can’t go wrong with aloe.
2. Peace Lily
Because this plant has many broad leaves, it has a lot of contact surface with the air and does a great job of filtering common pollutants found inside of our homes. It is toxic to cats and dogs, so if you have pets, consider placement carefully.
Famous for their gorgeous foliage and beautiful blooms, peace lilies are well-known and equally well-loved. Isn’t it wonderful to know that not only do they bring serenity and a warm ambiance to your home but that they can literally leave your space cleaner, as well?There are many varieties to choose from and do require some love and attention to thrive, but once you choose the ones that best suit your area and learn their routine, you will be blessed with beautiful flowering plants that live an average of 3-5 years.
3. Spider Plant
Chlorophytum comosum, also known as Airplane Plant, Ribbon Ivy, or Spider Ivy, is a wonderfully fun houseplant that doesn’t require too much watering and looks fabulous as it grows. The long, thin leaves look like ribbons that arch and drape beautifully and can be either solid green or variegated white and green.
Studied by NASA in their usefulness in purifying air, the spider plant was shown to remove 95% of the toxins in an enclosed and sealed chamber in 24 hours. Though they don’t perform this dramatically in open space, they are still a wonderful addition to your living space.
4. Bamboo Palm
This small palm (Chamaedorea) is not related to bamboo but somewhat resembles it due to its multi-trunk, cane-like stems, thus its name. It has a beautiful exotic flair reminiscent of a tropical garden.
Due to its thick, leafy branches and deep green foliage, it works wonderfully as a natural air purifier. Some varieties tend to stay small due to the low light conditions found in many homes and, thus, tend to make perfect houseplants. They don’t require intensive care and will brighten your space with the peaceful qualities that they exude.
Be aware that certain varieties can grow quite large, especially if put outdoors or given copious amounts of bright light. Consider wisely which species will work best for your space.
5. Boston Fern
Nothing can quite beat the beauty and delicate finery of a Boston Fern. Though it requires at least 2 hours of indirect sunlight to thrive, so must have some window space, it is well worth the effort to find it the perfect spot. Especially gorgeous in a kitchen or bathroom space, Boston ferns love the humidity of these rooms.
In NASA’s tests, these plants ranked #9 out of 50 for most effectively filtering out toxins in the air. This is partly due to the sheer amount of surface area that they have, as well, as their special adaptations to this special job. Interestingly, they also ranked highest in removing formaldehyde from the air when compared to the other plants tested.
6. Rubber Plant
What is a rubber plant? Sometimes referred to as a ficus tree, it is an evergreen in the fig family. Originally used as a source for rubber, it is much more common as a houseplant now. It has large, thick, shiny, dark green leaves, is very robust, and capable of growing quite large with the right care and conditions.
The large leaves are most responsible for their reputation for absorbing airborne chemicals and, for this reason, are well-loved. Whether in its smaller “plant-like” stage or grown as a larger indoor “tree,” this plant will beautify your home or office and deserves the space that it occupies.
7. English Ivy
Well-known for adorning the sides of whole buildings, this plant is a fantastic climber and creeper. As a houseplant, you will be entranced with its ability to spread out and frame cabinets and bookcases with beauty and ease.
As one of the top 10 air-purifying plants, ivy (Hedera helix) will quickly win your heart. Though it is mildly poisonous, ivy is easy to keep up high and will turn your home and office spaces into a living garden area.
Though they have a few requirements to keep them happy and healthy, ivy plants are fairly easy to grow and once you have their needs met they will bless you with their stunning displays.
So there you have my top 7 favorite air-purifying plants for your home or office.
Keep in mind that not all plants remove the same chemicals and contaminants, nor do they all have the same efficiency. However, to maximize your results, the basic recommendation is to have approximately 2-3 medium-size plants for every 100 sq. feet in your home or office. Even just the addition of a few plants here and there are worth your efforts, however, as they truly will bring a peaceful calm to your living space.
Melanie is mom to five energetic kids, including a sweet little toddler. She enjoys homeschooling her children from a peaceful parenting perspective and traveling with her family whenever she can.