In addition to the dangerous chemicals used to make carpets, couches, paint and drywall, chemicals in household products; things like pressed wood, facial tissue, paper towels, plastic, and rubber, to name a few, frequently contain traces of chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
NASA once partnered with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) to investigate which household plants best to act as natural air purifiers and found 15 common plants that effectively improve air quality. Based on ease-of-care, attainability, appearance and effectiveness, here are our top six air purifying plants.
These are the Plants NASA says to Grow in your Conservatory:
1. Bamboo Palm: According to NASA, it removes formaldehyde and is also said to act as a natural humidifier. Bamboo palm can tolerate low light conditions, but should have a bright spot in the house. When growing in the conservatory, it is a good plant to shuffle in and out. There is a dwarf version of this plant. Play with it moves it around until you find the right growing conditions for it. Do not over-water. It should be moist every day, but not so much that is standing water in the pot.
2. Snake Plant: Found by NASA to absorb nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde. This plant, originally from West Africa is also called Sansevieria or Mother-in-law’s-tongue, because it is so sharp. However, I have never told my mother-in-law what the plant is called! Do so at your own risk. This plant can go a month without water and needs very little light. If you are not a ‘green thumb’ this plant is for you. My plant has grown for years and one hardly even notices it anymore, it’s just part of the furniture. Buy one the size you want as it is a really slow grower in the house.
3. Areca Palm: One of the best air purifying plants for general air cleanliness. This palm was once on the endangered species list and is now plentiful. According to NASA and Dr. B. C. Wolverton, the areca palm filters xylene and toluene from the air. Wolverton also specifies that, at 1.8 m (5 ft. 11 in) in height, the plant will transpire 1 liter of water per 24 hours, thereby making it an effective humidifier. It is not a low light plant. It is ideally suited for the conservatory, however. Keep it moist, moist only. Do not over-water. Do not fertilize in the winter and only a few times during the growing season. This plant will achieve 7 feet in height.
4. Spider Plant: Great indoor plant for removing carbon monoxide and other toxins or impurities. Spider plants are one of three plants NASA deems best at removing formaldehyde from the air. This plant also puts high amounts of oxygen back into the air. Spider plants, native to South Africa are the easiest plant to grow. In the conservatory, find the partial light corner, because they will burn up in full light. Many windows in the house are great for spider plants. Children love spider plants because they are so easy to propagate the ‘spiders’ and they are hard to over water. Feed them frequently during the growing season. Keeping them in children’s bedrooms is a good idea because they are such workhorses for air cleaning and O2 production.
5. Peace Lily: Peace lilies could be called the “clean-all.” They’re often placed in bathrooms or laundry rooms because they’re known for removing mold spores. Also known to remove formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. The peace lily is so easy to grow. They are a beautiful lily and produce a lovely lily flower that even the most novice homeowner can grow. They do not like direct light. Do not over water, but I like to keep just a bit of water on mine all the time. Maybe 1/2 cup a day is all. It keeps the soil moist. You can grow the peace lily in a north window. This plant is always on sale at the big box stores.
Some people worry that Peace Lilies are poisonous. They are not true lilies and have a high level of oxalates, so they will irritate the mouth of a dog or cat that eats them. This usually happens quickly enough for the animal to stop eating the plant before damage occurs.
6. Gerbera Daisy: Not only do these gorgeous flowers remove benzene from the air, they remove trichloroethylene which comes home with dry cleaning. They’re known to improve sleep by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off more oxygen overnight. Though not often grown as a houseplant, they can bring a lot of joy to the home. Keep them slightly moist, not wet. Give those lots of suns for about 5 hours a day. Cut the spent flowers right away.
You can expect a Gerbera Daisy to last 1-3 years in the house, so consider it a disposable plant that brings great health and joy in a short time. Clusters of these plants make a tremendous statement in any room.
Let me know if you have other plant questions or problems. If you don’t grow your plants in a conservatory yet. we need to talk!