In the late 80s NASA did a Clean Air Study to look into potential plants for cleaning the air on space stations. For us inner-city dwellers down here on Earth these findings are especially useful for filtering out the air pollutants of urban living such as trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia. These toxins are found in everyday items and can effect our health in many ways varying from mild eye and throat irritations through to heart problems and liver and kidney damage.
This all sounds very serious, but plants can really help in keeping the air in our homes as clean as possible. NASA’s guidelines recommend one plant per 100 square feet, and those who are a little lacking in the green thumb department will be pleased to discover that some of the recommended plants are very hard to kill! We’ve picked out the ones that filter the most pollutants.
This popular plant native to tropical regions of the Americas and South East Asia is super easy to care for and also has beautiful pure white flowers. They like low to medium light, but if you keep them in medium light you’ll end up with more flowers. They prefer to be under rather than overwatered, but the optimum is slightly damp soil.
Another beautiful flowering plant, this one will brighten the room while it purifies! Florist’s Chrysanthemums prefer medium light and to be kept away from heating vents, air conditioners, and harsh direct sunlight. Always let the top couple of inches of soil dry out before rewatering.
Variegated Snake Plant
You might know this one as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue. These are so tolerant you can ignore them for weeks and they’ll still look perky and fresh. They like indirect sunlight and even power on in low light, and prefer to be left to dry out between watering.
If you want to add a bit of tropical flair to a room these dramatic trees with slender woody stalks and spiky leaves are ideal. They can grow up to 15 feet tall outside, but indoors will grow to around 6 feet without taking up much floor space. Bright yet indirect light is best, though they’ll survive in lower light levels. This is another one that likes to dry out between waterings.
Ivy can make a beautiful bright, lush houseplant, perfect for draping out of hanging baskets. It does thrive in bright light, so keep this one near a window. Ivies like to dry out a bit in between watering, but the leaves do enjoy a wash every now and again to keep dust out of the pores. Either run the shower over them for a few minutes, or keep a mister handy to give them the occasional spritz.
If you have kids or pets always remember to check whether a houseplant could be toxic to them if they were to ingest it. Once you’ve found the right plant for you enjoy that extra-clean air, and the fresh, alive look that plants bring to a room.