9 Air Purifying Plants You Just Can’t Kill

9 Air Purifying Plants You Just Can’t Kill
iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Plants are an inexpensive and effective tool for improving indoor air quality. Not to mention that all the added greenery makes a house feel more like a home. But for those of us brown thumbs of the world, keeping plants alive can be a difficult endeavor. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with these air purifying plants that even you can’t kill.

Indoor Air Quality is a Major Problem

Air purifying plants are more important than you might think. According to the EPA, the long term affects of poor air quality are no small deal and can include respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even some forms of cancer. It’s difficult to know how you’ll be affected because different people respond differently to pollutants. Rather than risking your health, why not improve your home’s air quality? Start by identifying the main sources of air pollution in your home. These can include:

  • Poor ventilation
  • Dirty central air systems
  • Mold (found in areas where there’s too much moisture)
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Tobacco
  • Off-gassing from furniture, carpeting, floors, paints, lacquers, adhesives, rust preventers, thinners, etc.
  • Radon

Simple Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

When it comes to improving indoor air quality, there are a number of steps that you can take once you’ve identified the culprits. These include:

  • Don’t smoke. This is the single biggest thing you can do to protect your indoor air quality. When you smoke you’re not just putting yourself at risk, you’re also putting every member of your family at risk as well.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide kills 400 people a year. It’s an odorless, clear gas that can be in your home without you ever knowing it. But a simple inexpensive detector is an easy fix.
  • Test for radon. Radon is an odorless, clear, radioactive gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer. Here’s how to get a radon testing kit so you can remove the gas if necessary.
  • Clean your A/C units. This is one of the main sources of air pollution in the home.
  • Use a dehumidifier (also cleaned regularly) to keep your home free of mold if you live in a part of the country with higher humidity levels.
  • Ventilate your home. If your home feels stuffy, open the doors and windows to air it out.
  • Buy an air purifier. A good old air purifier is a great way to give your indoor air some daily filtering. Consider the Coway AP-1216L Tower Mighty Air Purifier with True Hepa & Smart Mode ($195) or the less expensive Holmes HEPA-Type Desktop Air Purifier with 3 Speeds and Quiet Operation ($48).

These Air Purifying Plants Can Help

Now that you’ve cleared up some of the main indoor air pollutants, these plants can help keep your air as clean as possible.

1. Spider Plants

These plants are hearty and easy to maintain. They love indirect, bright sunlight. Let them dry out between waterings so they don’t get soggy and rot. These guys remove formaldehyde, one of the most common indoor air pollutants, from the air.

2. Peace Lilies

Peace lilies work best away from the window, in somewhat shaded areas. They need to be watered occasionally, but that’s really it. Peace lilies are great for removing air pollutants including formaldehyde and benzene. Sources of benzene include building materials, furniture, as well as heating and cooking systems.

3. Boston ferns

I’m a huge fan of Boston ferns because they’re large, tropical, and very inexpensive. Boston ferns provide a lot of foliage for your buck. They need to stay moist and do best with indirect light. Boston ferns remove formaldehyde and xylene from the air. Xylene is a poisonous solvent used in paints, lacquers, adhesives, rust preventers, thinners, gasoline, and permanent magic markers.

4. Pothos

Pothos don’t need very much sunlight, which means you can put them just about anywhere in your home. They’re even nicknamed the “cubicle plant” because they do well in offices and require zero maintenance beyond a little watering here and there. They remove formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and toluene from the air. Toluene is found in inks, dyes, paints, gasoline, and cigarette smoke.

5. Snake plants

Snake plants are much more attractive than the name would imply. They require some indirect sunlight and occasional watering. Snake plants remove formaldehyde, xylene, benzene, and trichloroethylene from your indoor air. Trichloroethylene can be found in wood stains, varnishes, finishes, lubricants, adhesives, typewriter correction fluid, paint removers, and certain cleaners.

6. Bamboo palms

Although bamboo palms will grow higher with more light, they don’t require direct sunlight to grow. They need to be watered periodically when the soil feels dry. Bamboo palms remove formaldehyde, xylene, and trichloroethylene from the air.

7. Areca palms

Palms are the best. They make your home feel like a tropical rainforest all the while making you breathe a little easier. Areca palms require indirect sunlight. These guys will do really well in a larger room because they take up space and can’t be pruned. They’re great at removing chemical toxins like formaldehyde and xylene from the air.

8. Lady palms

Yet another palm worth adding to your home because they’re hearty and great at purifying your indoor air. They’re adaptable and able survive in most parts of the world with a little sunlight and occasional watering. Lady palms are effective at removing formaldehyde from the air.

9. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is not only great for moisturizing your skin, it’s also good for cleaning the air. Aloe vera is easy to care for, requiring water when the soil is dry as well as indirect sunlight. Beyond treating dry skin and having antibacterial, wound healing qualities, they’re also great for removing formaldehyde from the air.

Are you concerned with your indoor air quality? Do you love your indoor plants?  What are your favorite varieties of indoor plants? We want to know! Drop us a line via Twitter @OrganicAuthorit.

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Sara Novak
Sara Novak

Sara Novak is an independent journalist who reports on health, science, yoga, and travel. She was a writer for Discovery Communications from 2006-2013 and her work has been featured on Discovery Health, Popular Science, TLC, Animal Planet, What to Expect, TreeHugger, and many more. She’s also a certified yoga teacher. When she's not churning away on her laptop, she can be found atop her yoga mat or walking the beach with her husband, baby boy, and two lovable cocker spaniels.