Houseplants can be beautiful additions to our homes, but did you know they can also have air purifying properties? There’s a lot going on under that calm green exterior and I just can’t get enough of them. I have over 30 houseplants in my bedroom—here is a picture of my dog, Nacho, trapped in a fortress of plants.
(Side-note, Nacho got very fed up with my making him pose for this picture and now he is getting his revenge by trying to play fetch with me as I write this.)
NASA conducted a study in the 80s which revealed that many common houseplants not only absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but they also remove harmful chemicals from the air around them. This study suggested that, in a space station, one of these air purifying plants per 100 square feet would be enough to suitably purify the air. It’s a little different here on earth because we don’t live in air tight pods and as soon as a window is cracked open it lets in new air and the conditions change etc etc. Regardless, I live right on a main road and the 30 plus plants in my bedroom make me feel better about the air I’m breathing in!
Here are a few of my favorite, easy to care for, air purifying plants from my own personal jungle:
I have so much of this in my house for a few reasons: It is super cheap and easy to find (I bought 2 little pots yesterday for £1 each in Morrisons), it is very pretty (I think), It grows so fast, it’s very easy to propagate, and of course because it’s and air purifying plant.
English Ivy likes medium light and fairly frequent watering. You’ll know when she’s thirsty because her leaves will droop. My happiest pot of ivy is about 2 metres from a north facing window. Warning: If you plant ivy in your garden it will absolutely take over.
English ivy removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene from the air.
Sansevieria aka Snake Plants are ideal if you want something low maintenance. They will just chill. They are happy in shade but are more likely to grow big and spiky and full in a sunnier spot. They need watering every two weeks at most but if you forget it’s no big deal. Pretty much the only way to kill them is to drown them—give them a pot with drainage and they will be happy as Larry.
Just like English Ivy, Snake plants also remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene from the air.
This little baby Aloe Vera plant is growing in a sweetcorn tin. Not only is Aloe vera an air purifying plant, but the gel inside their chubby tendrils can be used for all manner of things including soothing skin complaints like sunburn and eczema. The fact Aloe Vera is so useful means it’s very easy to get hold of: I grabbed this one from the corner shop across the road when I moved in. Aloe Vera can go a long time without water but a little drink every one or two weeks is best—you’ll know when it’s ready because the top inch of soil will be dry. Make sure not to overwater these groovy little plants as they are very susceptible to root rot. A pot with drainage will make rot rot way less likely.
Aloe vera removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air.
This my Ficus Elastica (rubber plant)—I call him Mr Frisky. Mr Frisky is one of my newest air purifying plants and he has brought me so much joy already. I love his big black rubbery leaves—so elegant. He likes bright light but nothing too direct. Mr Frisky is actually in a pretty shady spot and he’s fine but more sun would encourage him to produce more leaves/ have denser foliage. He drinks quite a lot – I would recommend watering him once every few days. Don’t water him unless the top inch of soil is dry though. Over watering him will cause him to drop leaves.
Rubber plants remove formaldehyde from the air.
All of the air purifying plants listed above are toxic to cats and dogs if ingested. If your pets are likely to have a nibble, keep these plants well out of reach.
Whether these air purifying plants are having any impact on the air in my bedroom or not, they are certainly improving my mood. It’s amazing what plants can do for us: we give them so little and they give so much back. Speaking of giving so much back, I must go and play fetch with Nacho before he completely loses faith in me.
Good luck making your clean aired jungles!
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Photo: Kitty Louise