Can plants really clean the air in your home? A study conducted by NASA seems to provide some pretty compelling evidence that the answer is yes! The NASA study started when the organization needed to find a way to clean the air in space stations. The study found that some plants eliminate significant amounts of benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
If you didn’t realize you had stuff like that floating around in your home, then you’re not alone. Those three scary sounding compounds are found in paint, drywall, cosmetics, detergents, and even in furniture. And they can be harmful at high levels. But don’t reach for the hazmat suit just yet. It turns out that most homes have relatively safe levels of these chemicals. But it’s easy to bring even those levels down for fresh and healthy air inside your home. You just have to go green…literally.
Here are five plants that look great, pump out tons of fresh oxygen, and naturally filter many harmful substances from the air you breathe.
Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
Sometimes called a snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue is a very lovely, pleasant plant and by no means should be associated with anything negative regarding anyone’s mother-in-law or what she may have to say. The plant has long, tongue-like leaves that shoot vertically with slight, curving twists.
One of the top air-purifying plants studied by NASA, the mother-in-law’s tongue was found to decrease the levels of over 100 air pollutants.
One of the plant’s other distinctive attributes is its ability to convert CO2 into oxygen during the night, making it an excellent choice for the bedroom. It’s also an excellent plant for people who don’t have a green thumb. Sansevieria is a species that is very resilient and low-maintenance. It can go for weeks without water, thrive in low light and can withstand just about any climate. A native of Madagascar, the plant does like a little taste of home now and then, so the occasional direct sunlight and fresh air will keep it happy and healthy.
Money Plant (Epipremnum aureum)
No, it’s not called the money plant because it’s expensive. Native to Asia, the money plant derives its name from its traditional use as a wealth and prosperity booster in the Chinese system of Feng Shui. We don’t know if it will help your bank account much, but it is a powerful air-purifier with a particular affinity for neutralizing the harmful chemicals that come from synthetics in paint and carpet. The plant grows long, wandering vines that can reach up to 40 feet.
Epipremnum aureum does best in rooms with indirect light and needs frequent watering. Like all plants, it provides ample amounts of oxygen and due to its potentially large size, can give you a lot of bang for your buck when selecting your air-purifying plants (pun intended.) Just make sure you keep a pair of trimming shears handy to keep this prolific grower in check. This plant is beautiful and provides some significant health benefits. Be warned that it can be toxic to pets and children. You may want to keep it suspended in a pot if this is a concern in your home.
Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)
Also known as the butterfly palm or the bamboo palm, the areca is another hardy plant from the exotic land of Madagascar. This plant does a great job of keeping the air clean and fresh and is particularly good at reducing levels of benzene and formaldehyde. These types of palms grow fast and can reach heights of 20 feet. You can limit the vertical growth by keeping them in smaller pots or use those trimming shears you bought with the money plant. Palms typically like bright, filtered light and need frequent watering, but they tend to hibernate in winter needing less care.
As if all that air-cleaning ability weren’t enough, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens is also a natural humidifier. The plant can produce a liter of ambient water every 24 hours, making it perfect for dry climates and particularly beneficial to people with allergies or breathing issues. Imagine breathing in all that moist, clean tropical air all day. You can close your eyes and imagine you are in Madagascar or some other far away paradise with your new favorite plant!
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
The peace lily is a deep, dark green plant with delicate, beautiful white flowers. It’s an evergreen, so you don’t even have to have a green thumb to keep it healthy while it purifies your air. The plant does well in indirect light, but it may get leaf burn if left in direct sunlight. Stick it in a corner, and it will be fine. Peace lilies, with their big, broad leaves, grow from about 16” all the way to 3′ tall, making them a perfect floor plant.
Spathiphyllum doesn’t need a lot of water either. Just give it a good drink about every four or five days, and it will thrive. You’ll know if you aren’t giving it enough water because the leaves will start to droop a little. How handy! These hardy air fresheners can even grow up to 6′ when grown outside in mild climates, making them a beautiful addition to exterior landscapes in specific areas. Inside or out, the peace lily is a healthy addition to any home.
Dracaenas are even easier to take care of than peace lilies and come in all kinds of shapes and colors. From the rainbow variety with its bright purple markings to the subtle limelight version with its distinctive markings, this air-purifying plant really can go with any décor. The plant derives its name from the Greek term meaning “female dragon,” and is native to parts of Asia, Africa and Central America. It’s recommended that you don’t put the female dragon and the mother-in-law’s tongue in the same room. (Just kidding.)
This hardy plant originated in some pretty harsh climates, so it can survive in direct sunlight, indirect light, or even low light conditions. In the wild, it can grow up to about 50′, but can easily be kept trimmed down to about 6′ or so in your home. It doesn’t need a lot of water. Keep the soil moist and you’ll have a healthy, air cleaning machine. Because dracaenas can grow rather large, they pump out a lot of oxygen and are particularly good at reducing levels of benzene found in things from cigarette smoke to furniture polish. The hard part for you is going to be selecting which of the 40 or so varieties are the best fit for your dwelling.
These are five of the top air-purifying plants for your home, approved by NASA and ready to get rid of all those harmful chemicals floating around. They’re beautiful, refreshing, and great for you and your family’s health. Just like The Maids®, these plants help keep your home clean and fresh with healthy, natural cleaning. For more tips and information about plants and more, check out some of our other great blog posts.