Best air purifying houseplants

(That are also easy to keep alive!)

The term “Plant Mom/Plant Parent” has become increasingly popular since the lockdown months, as many people turned to indoor gardening to keep their minds occupied and away from stress. Besides being a cure for boredom and a great way to add freshness and colour to your home, some indoor plants can also serve as air purifiers especially in enclosed spaces with little air flow.

Reduced air flow leads to a buildup of air pollution which can, in turn, lead to health issues like dizziness, nausea, headaches, etc. Other sources of indoor air pollution include synthetic building materials, synthetic furnishings (rubber, plastic, and fiber), cleaning solutions, etc. The right indoor plants can be helpful in such situations, as they can absorb harmful toxins from the air. It is recommended to have two or three plants in 8- or 10-inch pots, for every 100 square feet of floor space.

The following plants are generally known to be great air cleaners, eliminating common household toxins like formaldehyde, xylene, carbon monoxide, etc.

  1. The Peace Lily: Thanks to their large and glossy leaves, peace lilies are regarded as one of the top three plants for removing common household toxins. Their blooming white flowers make them ideal as centerpieces, and a great gift for friends and family. Keep their soil moist but not soggy, by watering once a week, without using too much water. However, be mindful if you have pets in your home, as peace lilies can be toxic if consumed by cats and dogs.
  2. The Dracaena Family: A fantastic choice for newbie gardeners, the dracaena family of plants come in various sizes, shapes and colours; meaning you can find the perfect fit for your home. They are sturdy and quite hard to kill. Water once a week but take care not to use too much water – the aim is to keep the soil damp, not soggy. As with peace lilies, be careful with dracaenas if you have pets as they can cause irritation to cats and dogs when consumed.
  3. The Snake Plant: A member of the family of succulents, this is considered one of the sturdiest, low-maintenance houseplants. Succulents are plants with thickened, fleshy and engorged parts, which help them retain water. The snake plant requires little water and light to survive, making it a great choice for just about any room in the house. One unique characteristic they have is that while most plants take away oxygen at night, this one releases it into the atmosphere, making it particularly great for bedrooms.
  4. The Spider Plant: Another great choice for beginner green thumbs, spider plants grow quickly and easily with minimal attention. They flourish in bright, indirect sunlight and should be watered two to three times a week. Place them in hanging baskets for an elevated décor look. They are safe for children and pets to play with.
  5. The Bamboo Palm: Although this elegant, sturdy plant grows slowly, it reaches up to 12-14ft in height and 3-5ft in width at full growth. Bamboo palms thrive in bright but indirect sunlight and should be watered occasionally to keep the soil moist. These plants are also non-toxic to pets and children.
  6. The Aloe Vera Plant: Another member of the succulent family, Aloe Vera is not only great at cleansing the air, but also as a natural remedy for burns and inflammation. The key thing to note about caring for your Aloe Vera plant is that it does not thrive in standing water, so make sure your pot/planter provides proper drainage.

Plant Safety

Some plants can be toxic to pets and/or children. When considering which plants to buy, make sure to check with the vendor about pet-safe and allergy-safe options. Alternatively, you can simply do the research online.

One other thing to note is that all plants do need to be watered, even if not frequently, and as a result, they can increase humidity and promote the growth of mold. To mitigate this, cover the exposed topsoil with aquarium gravel or Spanish moss. Also, make sure to drain out excess water into a tray when watering the plants.

In summary, while plants may not carry as much power as mechanical air purifiers, they are more natural and cost-effective. Plus, they provide the added benefits of reducing stress and fatigue, improving moods, and increasing productivity. So whether or not you have air purifiers, consider investing in some indoor plants today; you’ll be happier for it.

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Dania Nwizu is a creative entrepreneur based in Lagos, Nigeria. She spends most of her time writing, telling food stories and walking on water.

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