House Plants for a Healthier Home

Grow your own clean air with these 10 house plants.
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Rubber Plant

Rubber plants are particularly effective at absorbing three of the most common household air toxins: formaldehyde, trichlorethylene and benzene. These chemicals often originate inside your home. For instance, particle board and pressed wood— materials used in furniture and flooring— typically contain formaldehyde. Trichlorethylene can come from paint, heating systems, and electrical appliances. And the chemical benzene often contaminates air through cigarette smoke and the use of certain cleaning agents. Rubber plants are easy to care for. They enjoy damp soil and low to moderate light levels.

Boston Fern

The Boston fern—with its attractive, cascading lush leaf growth— virtually eliminates any formaldehyde present in the ambient air of a room. Since the calling cards of formaldehyde contamination are irritated eyes, nose, and throat, you might consider adding Boston fern to your living spaces if you tend to experience these symptoms. Ferns grow best in shade. Since they thrive in high humidity, they are ideal for bathrooms.

Aloe Vera

Known for the soothing properties of its gel, aloe is another house plant that fights formaldehyde (though not as successfully as others). However, aloe is adaptable enough that you can place it anywhere in your home— a cool, dark room or a warm, bright window ledge. Aloe is a tough plant that can withstand a range of environments. Its needs are similar to that of a cactus— lots of sun and infrequent watering.

Date Palm

Moderately effective at absorbing formaldehyde and other airborne chemicals, but extremely effective at eliminating xylene (a harmful chemical used in printing, rubber and leather applications), the date palm is an especially cool-looking air-purifying house plant. It grows slowly, but can reach a height of five or six feet. Palms do best in moist soil under bright, indirect sunlight. They should be protected from drafts or air conditioning as much as possible.

Weeping Fig

Ammonia, xylene, and formaldehyde are a few of the many toxins that the weeping fig is effective against. Though it takes up a lot of space once mature, the weeping fig never needs special care. Avoid moving weeping figs around; they are very sensitive to changes in light. But once settled in barely moist soil, they can survive in sunny conditions or relative shade.

Spider Plant

Spider plants are exceptional eliminators of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. People new to growing greenery indoors often succeed with these, since they are so forgiving of mistakes. Spider plants will respond in low or bright light conditions and will survive (but not necessarily thrive) without regular watering.

English Ivy

English ivy removes mold from the air, giving relief to allergy and asthma sufferers. If the air in your living space is stale and dry, introducing ivy could make an improvement. English ivy doesn’t like high temperatures but otherwise it’s a tough plant that you can train to grow in any direction.

Snake Plant

This is a resilient plant, drought- and heat-tolerant, which has been shown to be one of the most powerful cleansers of contaminated indoor air. The snake plant works against formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia and nitrogen oxide. With minimal care, Snake plants will survive in all but extreme environments.

Heart Leaf Philodendron

A wonderful climbing or hanging plant, philodendron is another resilient, hands-off house plant that improves the quality of surrounding air. Avoid overwatering and exposing the plant to cold temperatures.

Peace Lily

Who would have thought such a beautiful (and easy-to-maintain) plant would be such a successful eliminator of the toxins benzene, trichloroethylene, acetone, alcohol and formaldehyde (among others)? The peace lily thrives in moist soil under bright, indirect light but will tolerate low, interior light. Since this plant enjoys being watered regularly, it is (fortunately) quite difficult to overwater.


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