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Detox Your Space: 10 of the Best (and Easiest to Care For) Air-Purifying Houseplants

by Madison Crabtree June 13, 2019

Detox Your Space: 10 of the Best (and Easiest to Care For) Air-Purifying Houseplants

Have you ever felt stuffy and dizzy from being indoors, then walked outside to take a deep breath of fresh air and instantly felt a million times better? Well, what if we told you that you can bring that feeling indoors with you?

The solution is simple - PLANTS.

Any plant lover with an urban jungle of their own (plants here, plants there, plants everywhere) will tell you that plants really do improve air quality. Adding a vertical garden to your home or office can improve your overall health by eliminating pollutants from the air you breathe, not to mention all the other benefits, such as increasing productivity and decreasing stress levels. Goodbye, constant sneezing and watery eyes; hello, clean air!

 

What’s In Our Air?

Stagnant indoor environments are rife with contaminants that can come from everywhere - furnishings, upholstery, synthetic construction materials, and cleaning products can emit certain toxic compounds, while pollen, bacteria and molds can also build up in poorly-ventilated spaces, causing all sorts of irritation and health problems. Let’s take a look at some of the unseen chemicals that lurk in our air spaces, and where they can be found:

 Trichloroethylene
Formaldehyde
Benzene

Found in printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, adhesives and paint remover/stripper. Can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea and vomiting.

Found in paper bags, waxed papers, facial tissues, paper towels, table napkins, particle board, plywood panelling, and synthetic fabrics. Can cause irritation to the nose, mouth and throat.

Used to make plastics, resins, synthetic fibers, rubber lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides; is contained in tobacco smoke, vehicle exhausts, glue, paint and furniture wax. Can cause irritation to the eyes, drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches.

Xylene
Ammonia

Found in printing, rubber, leather, paint, tobacco smoke and vehicle exhausts. Can cause irritation to the mouth and throat, dizziness, and headaches.

Found in window cleaners, floor waxes, smelling salts and fertilizers. Can cause eye irritation, coughing and sore throat.

Note: Harmful effects of these toxins depend on several factors, including the amount you may be exposed to, method and duration of exposure, and form of the chemical. The sources above give off toxins in trace amounts, which build up in small or poorly ventilated spaces, making their effects worse. Information on contaminant effects is from the “NASA Guide to Air-Filtering Houseplants” from Love the Garden.

 

Where Do Houseplants Come In?

The good news is that there’s an easy and fun way to combat indoor air pollutants - bring in the plants! Plants are natural air purifiers, and they look amazing indoors, too. You may already know that plants ‘breathe’ in carbon dioxide, which they convert into oxygen using light (aka photosynthesis). But did you know that they also absorb particulates from the air while they ‘breathe’? Another cleaning factor is the presence of plant-associated microorganisms in potting soil - microbes that are also a big help in air purification.

 

Wallygro’s Top Ten Air Purifying Houseplants

Back in 1989, NASA conducted a Clean Air Study in association with Associated Landscape Contractors of America in an effort to study the effects of houseplants on filtering toxins and pollutants from the air. The plants below were all proven by this study to significantly reduce the levels of certain contaminants from the air around them, and are all plants that we at Wallygro recommend for ease of care and styling! (NASA research suggests having at least one plant per 100 square feet of your space, but feel free to add more.)

 

 

Chinese Evergreen in Wally Eco Stone

1. Chinese Evergreen Aglaonema

Removes: Benzene, Formaldehyde

This plant comes in many varieties of colors and is an effective cleanser of Formaldehyde and Benzene. Chinese Evergreens enjoy medium to low light and humid conditions, so it will thrive in your bathroom; elsewhere, mist leaves occasionally to prevent browning. Careful; this plant is toxic to pets.


 
English Ivy in Wally Eco Stone
2. English Ivy Hedera Helix

Removes: Benzene, Formaldehyde, Trichloroethylene, and Xylene

English Ivy is a classically elegant choice that can be trained into shapes as it climbs and is likely to survive for several years. It’s easy to grow and will adapt to a variety of home environments, but it doesn’t like high temperatures. This plant is especially adept at filtering mold and fecal particles in the air as well as being a natural air cleanser; keep English Ivy in indirect medium to low light. Careful; this plant is toxic to pets.

 

 Dracaena in Wally Eco Stone
3. Dracaena Marginata, 'Janet Craig’, Warneckii

Removes: Benzene, Formaldehyde, Trichloroethylene, and Xylene

There are more than 40 different kinds of Dracaena plants with different colors and variegation, perfect for an indoor accent in any room. It tolerates drought and low light, making it fit right in at the office, though growth will be slow; ideally, Dracaena prefers indirect medium light. This is one of the best plants for removing Trichloroethylene and it can become tree-like and tall over time. Careful; this plant is toxic to pets.

 

 Snake Plant in Wally Eco Stone
4. Snake Plant Sansevieria Laurentii

Removes: Benzene, Formaldehyde, Trichloroethylene, and Xylene

Snake plants are hardy succulents that can survive the toughest of temperature and light conditions, but it prefers drier conditions, some sun, and only occasional watering. Careful not to overwater, as its roots are prone to rot. With this plant in your bedroom, you’re in for a good night’s sleep, as it releases oxygen at night. One of the best air-filtering plants around! Careful; this plant is toxic to pets.

 

 Peace Lily in Wally Eco Stone
5. Peace Lily Sphathiphyllum

Removes: Ammonia, Benzene, Formaldehyde, and Trichloroethylene

Peace Lillies are easy to grow, with major air-cleaning abilities. Known for its ability to fight against Formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, this plant needs indirect medium to low light and prefers moist soil (without overwatering). It will show signs of drooping when it’s thirsty and blooms throughout the summer months, and does give off pollen during this time. Careful; this plant is toxic to pets.

 

 Kimberly Queen Fern in Wally Eco Stone
6. Kimberly Queen Fern Nephrolepis Obliterata

Removes: Formaldehyde, Xylene

Like most ferns, Kimberly Queen may shed leaves for the first few months and likes humid air conditions. Provide it with high indirect light and moist (but not too wet) soil to keep it happy and your air clean. This plant is non-toxic, but may still cause indigestion if consumed, so it should be kept out of reach of pets and children. 

 

Spider Plant in Wally Eco Stone
7. Spider Plant Chlorophytum

Removes: Formaldehyde, Xylene

One of the easiest houseplants to grow, Spider Plants are resilient and perfect for first-time plant parents. It works hard to eliminate pollutants such as carbon monoxide, Formaldehyde and Xylene. Spider Plants prefer bright, indirect sunlight and will grow baby ‘spiderettes’ which can be repotted and will grow into new plants. This plant is pet-safe. 

 

 Aloe Vera in Wally Eco Stone
8. Aloe Vera

Removes: Formaldehyde

Aloe Vera leaves hold a fluid that has anti-inflammatory, wound-healing properties. Like most succulents, it thrives in sunny locations, and when it comes to watering, less is more. Careful; this plant is toxic to pets.

 
Mums in Wally Eco Stone
9. Mums Chrysanthemum

Removes: Ammonia, Benzene, Formaldehyde, and Xylene

Especially good for removing Benzene, this plant is a colorful addition to the home and popular in autumn when many other flowering plants are past their prime. Mums love sunlight, so place it in a sunny window and enjoy your clean air! Careful; this plant is toxic to pets.

 

Anthurium in Wally Eco Stone
10. Flamingo Lily Anthurium

Removes: Ammonia, Formaldehyde, and Xylene

The tropical blooms of Anthurium can come in many attractive colors. High light will keep them healthy and flowering year-round, and keep their soil moist while protecting them from the cold for best results. Careful; this plant is toxic to pets.


 





Madison Crabtree
Madison Crabtree

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