The increasing rate of pollution in the air is alarming, making it almost impossible for people to breathe fresh air. And according to several studies, air pollution is a leading cause of heart and respiratory related ailments.
To curtail this dire situation, many people adopted varying strategies to purify the air around them, including wearing masks, remaining indoors, keeping their windows closed – especially when there’s an increased tiny particle in the air – and using gadgets like air purifiers. Although all these methods have proven to be effective in purifying the air around us, especially in the home, however, one often neglected method of purifying the air around the home is the use of indoor plants.
Recall in your basic science class where you were taught about photosynthesis. This process literally involves the plants to absorb the unhealthy carbon dioxide in the air while they release oxygen. Hence, this process means plants are excellent and natural air purifiers.
Contaminants of Indoor Air
Some of the most harmful and most common indoor pollutants are formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, ammonia, and trichloroethylene. These pollutants have been shown to be carcinogenic in nature, that is, they have the tendency to cause cancer when exposed to them for an extended time.
However, indoor plants perform a great job of absorbing these carcinogenic toxins and releasing clean, breathable air into the environment. The effect of plants and their ability to filter air is taken so seriously that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) researched to determine the air-filtering capabilities of house plants as far back as 1989.
The NASA Clean Air Study
As part of the NASA Clean Air Study, a few houseplants were listed and used for the experiment. The research was focused on sustainable ways of getting rid of air pollutants on space stations. The results were remarkable: under controlled conditions, the researchers discovered that some house plants removed up to 87 percent of indoor air pollutants in less than 24 hours.
It was concluded at the end of the research that indoor plants play notable roles in remedying air pollution indoors, thus minimizing health hazards for people working or living in newly erected commercial office spaces, apartments, and residential homes. Subsequent research about the effectiveness of indoor plants in purifying the air produced results that were inconclusive, health experts and gardeners opine that having lots of house plants around does a lot of good. They can help in reducing stress and can even boost the mood of residents.
Several indoor plants are excellent at filtering air, making it purer for breathing. This means that you will no longer have to worry about health problems caused by air pollution – such as headaches(here’s a good article on headache pressure points), choking lungs, frequent cough and cold, burning of eyes, etc. – when you have them in your home.
Therefore, here are the top ten best indoor plants for air purification:
Peace Lily is not only known for eliminating benzene, acetone, formaldehyde, alcohols, and trichloroethylene, but it is also famous for its high transpiration rate which humidifies and purifies indoor air. Peace Lily is one of the fewest tropical plants that grow well indoors. It does not require too much attention as long as it is grown in an area with high humidity and indirect sunlight. When placed out of drafts, however, it can also flourish in semi-shaded areas.
To get the best results from the Peace Lily, make sure it is always watered thoroughly. Then allow it to go relatively dry between waterings. Mist the leaves of the Peace Lily with warm water from time to time to ward off attacks from pests like spider mites and scale insects.
Caution: Keep the plants away from children since its leaves contain calcium oxalate.
Aloe Vera is very popular and is utilized for healing purposes. Its gel, found inside the leaves of the plant, can heal cuts and burns.
However, aloe vera is also an excellent indoor air purifier. It can be grown in a flower vase without any undue stress.
This houseplant loves direct sunlight but should be watered moderately. When it is properly maintained, it produces lots of beautiful flowers that help in brightening your home. In addition to this, the Florist’s chrysanthemum cleanses indoor air.
Florist’s Chrysanthemum efficiently eliminates indoor pollutants like xylene, formaldehyde, toluene, ammonia, trichloroethylene, and benzene.
Although this plant is native to the Soloman Islands, it is one of the most popular indoor plants used all over the world for its ability to purify indoor air. Its beautiful leaves make it highly attractive, which is why it is generally sold in ornamental hanging baskets.
To get the best results, the Devil’s Ivy should be situated near a window, but out of direct sunlight. The soil should always be moist. Devil’s Ivy purifies indoor air by eliminating benzene, xylene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
Whether you are a casual or serious plant keeper, garden mum is one of the best
options for you.
Apart from sprouting bright-colored and beautiful flowers, Garden Mums are natural filters for several indoor pollutants like ammonia, benzene, and xylene.
Bamboo Palm also scores high marks when compared with other plants that remove formaldehyde from indoor air. It is an indoor plant that also effectively removes benzene (the ingredient used in making lubricants, dyes, detergents, and rubbers) as well as trichloroethylene – an industrial solvent. The bamboo palm adds a tropical feel and humidity to any home, thanks to its lacy, green fans and clusters of slender canes.
The bamboo palm – otherwise called the reed palm – thrives in bright but indirect sunlight. Don’t be alarmed if new plants appear to lose some of their foliage when introduced newly into your home. It is a normal process that undergoes as it acclimatizes to indoor settings.
It does not tolerate over-watering or do well in standing water, though it likes to stay moist homogenously. But you can water it generously during the spring and summer seasons when the bamboo palm is growing actively. During winter, you should make sure that the root ball remains moist. Indoor bamboo palms may attract spider mites, and you can control them by spraying it with soapy solutions from time to time.
Dracaena “Janet Craig”
This is purportedly one of the easiest indoor plants to grow and very good at removing the colorless trichloroethylene from the air. The Dracaena can also grow to a height of ten feet and spreads its foliage up to three feet. The Dracaena can even survive for several decades if it is adequately maintained.
It thrives in indirect sunlight, especially if the rays are beamed from the east/west direction. It also does well in semi-shaded areas. If watering becomes reduced – due to one reason or the other – the Dracaena adapts to lower light levels. However, you should always make sure the soil is uniformly moist, but do not let it get waterlogged. You should prevent the root ball from drying out completely.
During winter, watering it should be less frequent. Remove dead leaves and mist regularly with warm water. The Dracaena is very sensitive to fluoride; therefore, avoid using fluoridated water for watering purposes.
Dwarf Date Palm
The Dwarf Date Palm has received a lot of accolades for getting rid of airborne chemicals, especially xylene, a generic solvent ingredient. The Dwarf Date Palm thrives in environments with controlled temperature, usually in homes and offices. If positioned at an optimal location, it can survive for several decades.
The Dwarf Date Palm should be situated in an area with semi-sunlight and free of drafts. It grows slowly, but can reach a height of eight to ten feet; therefore, ensure you provide a lot of space for it. The root ball must always be moist, except during winter when you can allow it to dry out before watering it again. Feed it weekly and mist it from time to time for best results.
However, a note of caution: you should never position it in a place that children can access it readily. This is because the Dwarf Date Palm has sharp and needle-like spines arrayed near the base of its leaf stem. These spines can penetrate the human skin easily even if you wear protective clothing, and are extremely painful.
Also known as the Rhapsis, the Lady Palm is one of the easiest indoor plants to grow. However, there are different species of this plant, and each one has its own specific culture and environmental requirements. The Rhapsis is a plant that is not only durable but acclimatizes well to most interior settings. It prefers semi-sunlight and moderate temperature.
Although the Lady Palm’s growth is somewhat slow, it can grow up to fourteen feet in height, and even beyond. Its clumps can also be very broad with diameters that almost matches the height of it. Spider mites are the number one pest that attacks Lady Palms, and you can get rid of them with soapy solutions, especially if detected early enough. Besides this, the Rhapsis is generally very resistant to insect invasions.
This Indoor plant is highly effective in getting rid of formaldehyde indoors. It has always been a favorite as far back as the Victorian era and grows well indoors. It can even tolerate low temperatures to a significant extent. Although rubber plants fancy semi-sunlight to semi-shade, they can also put up with dim lighting. This makes them easy to position in your home.
It grows up to eight feet and spreads its leaves as far as five feet. Therefore, you may need to support the plant using stakes. But in summer, you should ensure that it is shielded from direct sunlight. Endeavor to feed it with diluted liquid fertilizer. Always water the rubber plant thoroughly and wait until the soil is almost dried out before watering it again. It does not tolerate too much watering.
In rooms that are also heated centrally, you should be on the watch for thrips, scale insects, and spider mites. When handling the plant, ensure you wear protective gloves since its milky sap can irritate the skin.
These are the top ten best indoor plants for air purification. Not only will they remove toxic pollutants from the air in your home, but they also help to make the air safe to breathe.
Some of these plants can even improve your memory, mood, and concentration. You can also further enhance the quality of indoor air by using air purifying essential oils, increasing the ventilation and reducing the humidity in the atmosphere.