Not everyone has an outdoor space to call their own, and the benefits that come with it. For some, growing plants indoors is the only way to garden, and it’s a great way to relieve stress, and improve the air quality inside the home.
It’s also a great excuse to have a screen break, whether you work from home or you just like binge-watching series. Keeping indoor plants is a great way of switching off and reconnecting with the world around you.
Air purifying plants take these benefits one step further. Not only is it good for you to care for plants and to see them thrive, it also helps improve the air inside your house.
Here’s what you should know about air purifying plants, including some of the most popular plants that will improve the air quality in your home.
What Makes a Plant Air Purifying?
Many plants remove harmful toxins from the air inside homes, and slightly improve the oxygen levels, reducing carbon dioxide.
All homes contain building materials which emit pollutants over time, so it’s worth having a few air purifying plants around your home to improve the air quality, especially if you spend a lot of time indoors.
Building materials aren’t the only things responsible for bringing down the air quality.
Some household cleaning products and furniture can also be detrimental, so it is important to keep some houseplants, especially if you don’t get into the green outdoors as often as you probably should.
These plants also cut down on the amount of dust and germs circulating in the air.
Some studies claim that you need many houseplants to help clean the air inside, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need hundreds.
Even a few can make a difference, not only for the air quality but also for the benefits it can have on you, too.
Why Should You Grow Air Purifying Plants?
Besides the obvious, air purifying plants are among some of the most striking houseplants you can grow, and it helps that some of them are among the easiest to look after.
Most are perfect for those who are just getting started in the world of houseplants, and quite a few will flower in the right conditions, too.
Caring for houseplants gives you a reason to stop and look at the world around you. Taking stock of how they are doing and then caring for them is a great grounding method.
It reduces stress and worry, as well as giving you a great sense of satisfaction and purpose, even if you have both of those in abundance already.
Houseplants also have the benefit of softening any interior space, no matter the design or look. The color green promotes relaxation, and it’s been proven that we see more shades of green than any other color.
If you feel there’s something missing from your home, but you can’t quite figure out what it is, call us biased, but a houseplant in an empty corner or on a blank shelf or table can really do the trick.
Air Purifying Plants You Should Consider Growing Indoors
Aglaonema modestum ‘Chinese Evergreen’
Chinese evergreens are slow-growing plants that are valued for their beautiful foliage, including types which are covered in colorful blotches or different variegation.
It also helps that these evergreens tolerate lower light than other air-purifying plants, making them perfect for darker rooms which are just screaming out to have a little more greenery.
While the Chinese evergreen does flower, this plant is grown for its ornamental foliage, and some people cut the flowers off to make sure the plant’s energy goes into growing more leaves.
One thing you do need to get right is the temperature. Chinese evergreens, or their hybrids, need temperatures which don’t fall below 60°F (or 15°C).
It’s also worth mentioning that the variegated leaves won’t stand as little light as the all-green varieties do.
Aloe Vera (see also Aloe Varieties And Care) is one of the best purifiers on this list, and it also helps that it’s one of the easiest plants to care for.
Because it’s a succulent, it uses its leaves as its water reserves, meaning that you can be quite forgetful with watering, and it will thrive.
You will need to put it in a very bright position, where there aren’t any drafts.
It will only need watering every few weeks, and in return, it extracts carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds, or VOCs from the air, while providing your home with a little more oxygen.
Ananas comosus ‘Pineapple Plant’
If you want a very unusual and tropical look peppering your home, the pineapple plant is the one to go for.
These gorgeous plants feature dramatic foliage and ornamental pineapples on the top, while being one of the most air purifying plants you can easily keep in your home. It has a reputation of also improving snoring, too.
Pineapple plants love warmth and sunlight, so give it as much of both as you can. Keep a pineapple plant away from drafts or curious pets, and only water when the soil has dried out.
Anthurium andraeanum ‘Flamingo Lily’
Flamingo lilies are very beautiful plants, featuring deep green heart-shaped leaves, and brightly colored spathe leaves which look like flowers.
Normally, you’ll see a flamingo lily produce these altered leaves in crimson, but other varieties such as white, pink, green, yellow, and a stunning maroon which is nearly black.
As well as having a stunning look which is likely to stop anyone in their tracks, they help purify the air, and they are very easy to look after.
They require bright indirect light, and they also love humid environments such as a bathroom or a kitchen.
A flamingo lily will also tell you when it wants water, as the leaves will start to droop, instead of standing tall and upright.
Calatheas are beautiful houseplants with some of the most unique foliage available. Most will flower, too, but they are prized for their patterned leaves, with characteristic purple undersides.
The leaves of a calathea will visibly follow the light throughout the day, visibly curling up and ‘going to bed’ once the light levels drop. It helps to filter out a lot of pollutants from the air.
The key to keeping a calathea healthy is to use distilled water, and to keep them away from direct light.
Chamaedorea seifrizii ‘Bamboo Palm’
The bamboo palm, or chamaedorea seifrizii, is perfect for adding a ton of foliage into any living space, whether you choose to get a standard adult plant, or you decide to get a much more compact, juvenile version.
It helps remove formaldehyde from the air, and while it can stand a bright, indirect position, it prefers partial shade, where the delicate leaves won’t burn.
Depending on the temperature of the room you put it in, it may need water once a week or so. Let the soil dry out at least in part before you water it again.
Chlorophytum comosum ‘Spider Plant’
One of the best ways to help clean the air in your home is to grow a spider plant. Once it gets big enough, it will off-set regularly, producing trails of tiny spider plants which you can cut from the mother plant and grow separately.
It’s also the perfect plant for beginners, and it helps that it’s completely safe for pets, too. This lovely little plant pulls carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and xylene from the air, and if you take care of it, it will do so for years to come.
The dracaena is a popular indoor plant, and it’s not difficult to see why. It produces striking pointed leaves in abundance, atop a bamboo-like stem. It helps keep the air clean, too.
The dracaena is perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time on their hands, as it only needs watering every few weeks like a succulent.
Not only that, but it also helps that the plant will tell you when something isn’t right, just look at the leaves. Too little water will result in dry edges along the leaves, and round dry patches or streaks suggest too much sunlight.
Dracaena plants (see also Dracaena Types And Care Guide) like bright, indirect light where the sun cannot scorch the leaves. It’s also a slow-growing plant, so keep this in mind when you choose what size you’d like.
Dypsis lutescens ‘Areca Palm’
The Areca palm looks a little like a bamboo palm, but with much fuller leaves. It pulls xylene and toluene from any room you decide to put it in, and like the bamboo palm, keep it out of direct sunlight, as this will burn the leaves.
The Areca palm does add a little moisture to the air, which isn’t enough to be detrimental, in fact, it is the opposite.
Epipremnum aureum ‘Pothos’
Also known as silver vine, devil’s ivy, or the money plant, the pothos does need some support, and an indirect position, and only a little water to thrive.
This plant is so robust it can live in just water, as well as extracting pollutants from the air.
Ficus benjamina ‘Weeping Fig’
A favorite among the Victorians and modern houseplant enthusiasts alike, the weeping fig will help purify the air by taking out small amounts of toluene, xylene, and formaldehyde.
While it looks like a fairly simple plant, it’s not for beginners. Weeping figs (see also Fig Houseplant Guide) hate change, so once you’ve found the perfect spot for it, somewhere bright and indirect, keep it there.
Ficus elastica ‘Rubber Plant’
Rubber plants have a unique look, with thick, oval leaves which can vary in color, from a deep, rich green, or variegated with bright green, yellow and pink.
This plant acts as a natural humidifier, and it’s one of the most efficient at helping to purify the air.
It’s not suitable for houses which have pets, as it’s toxic to both. Put it somewhere which has indirect light, and water it once the soil dries out.
Gerbera jamesonii ‘Gerbera Daisy’
When you think of indoor plants, you might think of huge plants with sprawling foliage like palms or monsteras, but not necessarily flowers.
Well, the Gerbera is one that will happily thrive indoors, while it will also extract toxins such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from your home.
The gerbera needs indirect sunlight, and only moderate temperatures. You’ll need to drench it when the top few inches of soil has dried out. Make sure that the pot drains before you put it back, so it doesn’t sit in water.
Guzmania lingulata ‘Scarlet Star Bromeliad’
The scarlet star bromeliad is one of the longest-lived bromeliads, as they often die once they flower.
Bromeliads need indirect light with some humidity, so they are the perfect houseplant for a bathroom, where they will help purify the air.
Hedera Helix ‘English Ivy’
Ivy is incredibly easy to grow, almost too easy to grow, as it can quickly grow where you don’t want it.
Simply prune any vines that you don’t want, and this lovely plant will extract airborne nasties, especially in the bathroom.
Give English ivy plenty of water, and a few hours of direct sun, and it will thrive.
Musa oriana ‘Banana Dwarf Cavendish’
You might not immediately think that a banana plant is a good idea indoors, but the gorgeous foliage will soften any bright corner of your home, preferably somewhere a little humid.
You will need to chop any dying leaves, and water them down the middle of the plant. It extracts harmful particles from the air, while oxygenating the room.
Nephrolepsis obliterata ‘Kimberly Queen Fern’
If you’d prefer much smaller leaves, the Kimberly Queen Fern is perfect for a low-maintenance option. It’s perfect for places with lower light levels, where it will purify the air.
Philodendron bipinnatifidum ‘Lacy Tree Philodendron’
Available in both petite and grand forms, the star of the show in a Philodendron bipinnatifidum is its split leaves. They have often been compared to cheese plants with large fenestration, but these have the advantage of not needing constant support.
It’s also perfect at extracting formaldehyde from the air.
Philodendron cordatum ‘Heartleaf Philodendron’
A shade-loving plant, the heartleaf philodendron is easy to care for, as it’s a highly adaptable plant. Give it plenty of light and water, and it will contribute by helping to clean the air in your home.
Rhapis excelsa ‘Broad Lady Palm’
This plant is expensive to buy as a mature plant, so you may want to get a much smaller one. It helps pull ammonia from the air, usually found in cleaning products.
You will need to put this plant somewhere with high humidity, such as your bathroom or your kitchen.
Sansevieria ‘Snake Plant’
One of the best air purification plants while also being easy to care for, the snake plant will extract toluene, benzene, and formaldehyde from the air, while increasing the oxygen levels.
Snake plants love bright, indirect light, and only the occasional water.
Spathiphyllum ‘Peace Lily’
Peace lilies are famous for eating mold spores, while producing large glossy foliage and white spathe leaves. They don’t like direct sunlight, but they love humidity and plenty of water.
This plant will also tell you when it’s time to water, as the leaves will drop dramatically to rest at the sides of its pot. Once you give it a good soak, they’ll pick right back up again within a day.
Zanzibar Gem ‘ZZ Plant’
A houseplant which is very hard to kill, the ZZ plant pulls benzene, toluene and other harmful things from the air, while being very forgiving if you forget to water it.