Four Houseplants That Purify Your Indoor Air

Gardening with houseplants doesn’t have to be a daunting task. In fact, it can actually be a rewarding hobby watching the fruits of your labors grow and blossom.  If your house is like mine and overrun with a variety of smells from pets, kids, and whatever else life throws at you, some houseplants can even clean the air in your home! Deciding to dive headfirst into this new project, I found this bundle of four air-purifying plants on Amazon.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Of the four plants, the peace lily is perhaps the most attractive.  Producing white petals and flowers that resemble calla lilies, this plant grows to about 3 feet tall and is one of the easiest houseplants to grow.  The peace lily can be grown year-round and helps to remove pollutants in the air such as ammonia, benzene (a carcinogen found in paints, furniture wax, and polishes), formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.  It can also absorb acetone, which is released by adhesives, certain cleaners, and electronic devices.

Environment: This plant is sturdier than it appears and can grow and adapt well to low light areas, but tends to flower more if placed in brighter light

peace lily

Care: The peace lily requires weekly watering. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Unlike many plants, the peace lily is rather resistant to root rot.  If you think you have the tendency to overwater, this could be a good plant for you.  The peace lily will droop if it gets too dry, but don’t worry! It will revive itself if you saturate the soil with water once more.

Be aware that the flowers of the peace lily do contribute some pollen and floral scents into the air.  This may be a plant you want to refrain from filling a room with, but can look nice by itself with proper care.  Keep out of reach to pets, as the petals of the peace lily can be toxic to animals.

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

With dark green leaves adorned with golden streaks and marbling, this fast-growing vine is known for its flexibility.  This beautiful plant can be potted with something to support it, planted in a hanging basket, or trained to climb up the wall.  The possibilities are almost literally endless.  The contrasting color of the foliage are sure to attract the attention of a wandering eye. Like many other vines, the golden pothos works to remove formaldehyde from the air as well as carbon monoxide and benzene. golden pothos

Environment: Consider placing your golden pothos in an area without direct sunlight such as a mudroom or entryway.  Areas like these are perfect for this air-purifying plant because car exhaust fumes heavy in formaldehyde are most likely to sneak indoors from the garage.

Care: This plant does not require water frequently. Let soil dry between watering periods.   Avoid direct sunlight.  This plant thrives in shady environments with adequate air flow.   

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans or Neanthe bella)

The parlor palm is probably the easiest of the four to manage, so don’t be intimidated by this easy-to-grow plant.  The parlor palm is graceful and smaller than other palms, so it is easy to fit into nearly every type of room.  It usually grows to a maximum of 3 or 4 feet tall.

Environment: The parlor palm thrives in low light and shady areas of the home. Bright filtered light is also acceptable but do not place in direct sunlight. Intense light may cause drying of the plant which can lead to pest and pathogen problems later or cause the Parlor Palm to perform poorly.Parlor Palm

Care: This palm prefers areas with high humidity. The soil around a Parlor Palm should be evenly moist. Water freely during the growing season but reduce the frequency of watering during the winter. Make sure that the soil remains moist but well drained.

The miniature variety “Bella” is very popular. The only drawback is that the parlor palm is not as good at removing air pollutants as many of the other plants listed here.  If you have space for a large palm and want a better air purifier than the parlor palm, consider the areca palm or the bamboo palm. The 6-foot bamboo palm, Chamaedorea seifrizii, is easy to grow and is very effective at removing air pollutants.

Mother-In-Law’s Tongue – Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, this sharp-leafed plant absorbs carbon dioxide at night and releases oxygen (a reversal of the process most plants undergo). Pot a couple and put them in your bedroom for a slight oxygen boost while you sleep. In addition to helping lower carbon dioxide, the snake plant rids air of formaldehyde and benzene, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. The snake plant also helps remove trichloroethylene and xylene.snake plant

Environment: To keep the foliage full, high light is the best for this plant. It can survive in lower light provided that it is allowed to dry. Put one of these plants in your bathroom where it can thrive off the low light and steamy humid conditions as well as filtering out pollutants.

Care: Mother-in-Laws Tongue has rhizomes that store water, so stay more to the dry side with this plant. In low to medium light, allow potting media to dry down completely in between waterings. In higher lighting, allow to dry down at least 3/4 of the pot depth. Take care when you do water your Mother-in-Laws Tongue that you DO NOT POUR THE WATER IN THE LEAF ROSETTE as it may cause them to rot. Water the soil only and use room temperature water. This is one of the hardest houseplants to kill.

While it may take a few weeks to have a noticeable effect, these plants can add an extra layer of protection unwanted smells and odors.  I put these four plants in my home around a month ago and I already notice a difference in the smell and feel of my indoor air.  Is my indoor air purer? Scientifically, I can’t say. But it does smell cleaner, feel fresher, and the plants give a nice aesthetic to my living room. To ensure that your home has the maximum protection against air contamination, you should look into purchasing a furnace filter.  Air filters work to block unwanted pathogens from your indoor air supply.  Working in tandem with your new air-purifying indoor houseplants, you’ll almost never have to worry about air contamination again!

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