NASA scientists have found houseplants are beneficial to creating suitable space station habitats. Regardless of whether they flower, all plants are able to help purify air via their natural photosynthesis process. Of course, not all plants were created equal – some are able to remove 90% of household toxins from the air in less than 24 hours! The plants listed remove at least one of the five chemicals below from the air.
Benzene is a carcinogen found in detergents, pesticides, cigarette smoke, glue, paint, and furniture wax.
Formaldehyde is released from particle board, foam insulation, cosmetics, cigarette smoke, and some synthetic fabrics.
Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a man-made chemical that is found in paint, carpet cleaners, varnishes, and dyes.
Toluene is the main reason for the anti-huffing campaigns. It is found in paint, glue, gas, inks, resins, cleaners, and adhesives & has a negative effects on the nervous system.
Xylene is used as a cleaning agent, paint thinner, and solvent.
- Golden Cane/ Butterfly Palm/Areca Palm is a general air purifier that grows quite large and is great for rooms that don't get a lot of direct sun.
- Broadleaf Lady Palm is considered one of the easiest plants to grow. It is slow-growing and very long-lived.
- Bamboo Palm is easy to care for. Unlike most plants, it doesn't require any soil. Instead, it is anchors in a container of water and fertilized as needed.
- Rubber Plant is a type of ficus that will tolerate dim light and cool temperatures. It is considered the best plant for removing air pollutants so far. If you only buy one type of houseplant, this would be my recommendation.
- Striped Dracaena “Janet Craig” is the most popular Draceana grown indoor. It grows well in low light and tolerates dryness well. If you have trouble remembering to water your plants, this would be a good starter for you.
- Aloe Vera is also a medicinal plant. We always have one on hand for burns.
- Dwarf Date Palm is a slow-growing tree that is great for removing xylene from the air. It is drought tolerant (another great one for those forgetful waterers) and require little care.
- Snake Plant is a natural humidifier, only needs watered every couple of months during the winter, and tolerates low ligh.
- Boston Fern is great for hanging baskets. It is the best for removing formaldehyde from the air and also aids humidity.
- Peace Lily is an easy to care for plant, so its great for those without a green thumb.
Many of these plants are toxic to cats and/or dogs. This doesn't mean you can't grow any of these; you just have to be smart about it. Hanging baskets, tall stands, and tall furniture are great locations for plants to prevent access for your pet. Bitter Apple is a spray deterrent that works well (Jinger finally quit eating my flip flops after spraying them with it) and won't hurt your plants at all. You can also grow catnip, mint, or cat grass to allow your feline family members to have safe plants to nibble on.
You may have noticed that cigarette smoke is a common denominator with these and other harmful chemicals. If you smoke, please do so outside and away from others (especially children and those with health problems) to avoid indoor air pollution. If you are interested in quitting, many states offer a hotline for support and there are many smoking cessation products out there now.