Health and wellbeing are two increasingly important topics we face. Whether we’re talking about physical fitness, healthy diets and mental states or even the environment, going green has never felt more important. From eco-friendly design to energy use, we’re constantly looking at new ways to improve our footprint and contribute accordingly.
Why not start with your houseplants? We all know that green = good, but did you know that some houseplants actually help to clean and filter the air around us, removing toxic chemicals and reducing those pesky CO2 levels?
The reality is that we rarely ever get to breathe clean air anymore. Of course pollution outside in cities tends to be higher but, when indoors (which most of us are about 90% of the time) toxins from outside, fabrics, furnishings, heating, pets, damp, mould, dirt, cleaning products and our breath can build up over time.
Scientific research conducted over the last 50 years or so has shown that plants have various air purifying qualities that we can harness in our homes. Different studies have produced a variety of different results and, while we’re certainly not saying a houseplant will solve all of your air quality problems, when choosing a houseplant for our homes, we might as well choose one that will go some of the ways to improve the air we breathe, even if not all of it.
The Big NASA Clean Air Study
In 1989 NASA undertook a comprehensive study researching ways in which to clean the air in space. One of those methods was to study a range of common houseplants and monitor their effect on the environment, specifically, the air around them.
As well as reducing carbon dioxide and increasing oxygen, NASA found that some houseplants removed a range of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde benzine and ammonia from the air.
To give your home a healthy breath of fresh air, here's our picks of NASA’s best air purifying plants for air quality at home…
A good thing in a small package. The whole peace lily family offers amazing air purifying powers, including the Bellini whose small, compact size makes it perfect for sitting on a small table or bookshelf.
An electric green colour, Syngonium is a herbaceous hero, lighting up darker space and purifying the air.
Air Purifying Plant Families
It doesn't end there. While all plants will offer some degree of air purifying (at a minimum they all pull CO2 from the air during photosynthesis) some plant families are especially prized for their purifying powers.
These "honorable mentions" include:
Aglaonema - Chinese Evergreens are on NASA’s list of air-purifying plants removing Benzene and Formaldehyde toxins, so they are ideal for areas with high pollution or low air-circulation.
Aloe Vera - Aloe Vera's health and beauty benefits aren't just skin deep, it also provides air purification against common chemicals found in household detergents, paints & adhesives.
Asplenium- Popular for air purifying qualities, Aspleniums neutralise harmful gases by absorbing them and breaking them down, improving humidity levels in the air and converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Beaucarnea - Pony tail palms filter formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide toxins from the environment and, because they thrive in dry air, if you're trying to dry your air to reduce mould (which thrives in moist air) then they will cope with the conditions normally hostile to plants.
Calathea - Not only do they attract your attention with their wonderfully patterned leaves, Calathea is also a highly effective air-purifying plant family. Orbifolia is a firm fave but the whole family are pretty purifiers.
Cordyline - Cordyline filters airborne toxins such as such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene from the atmosphere while offering an incredible display of colour.
Dieffenbachia - Dumb canes are anything but stupid. As well as filtering toxins (and looking fab) dieffenbachia humidifies the air when it is too dry. A very useful plant to have in your arsenal when air conditioning or heating is on.
Dracaena- As well as those mentioned in our list above, special shout-outs go to Dracaena fragrans "Lemon Lime" and Dracaena marginata "Red Edged" for striking good looks backed with air purifying powers.
Ficus - Ficus is a BIG family of very diverse plants. As well as those individual plants listed above, have a closer look at Fiddle Leaf Figs, Fig Trees, Rubber Plants and Indian Laurels for powerful plants in pretty packages.
Peace Lilies - Foliage with white flowers. These houseplants range in small and large varieties, all of which are easy-care and tolerant of a range of light levels.
Philodendron - Philodendrons (including sweetheart plants, monkey mask, and Philodendron erubescens) are all effective air-purifying plants.
Sansevieria - These upright architectural houseplants are drought tolerant and nearly indestructible, suitable for direct light or lightly shaded conditions. Perfect for almost any spot in the house, they freshen the air while offering a huge range of looks and styles to suit practically any interior.