5 house plants to purify the air in your home
It can be easy to ignore or forget about the quality of the air that we breathe. There are so many other things to think about, and well, why worry about something you can’t even see?! However, in London, air pollution contributes to 9,500 early deaths per year, and significantly increases our risk for many health problems such as asthma, bronchitis, heart and lung disease, and lung and brain mal-development in children. Therefore, anything that we can do to cleanse the air in our homes, however small, is surely worthwhile.
The NASA Clean Air Study, compiled by NASA and published in 1989, researched techniques to clean the air in space stations and prevent the astronauts from getting sick. Its results found that certain indoor plants can provide a natural way of purifying air and removing toxic agents such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. NASA researchers suggest that efficient air cleaning in your home (or any indoor space) can be achieved by placing at least one plant per every 100 square feet.
Indoor plants are everywhere at the moment and they can really help to add colour and interest to any space. No matter how big or small your home is, how much sunlight you do or do not get, or how terrible you are at remembering to water them, there is a plant for you. And with so many websites around now that will hand-select your plants for you, instruct you on how to look after them and bring them ready-potted straight to your door, it really has never been easier!
Here are five of the most effective plants for purifying the air in your home (and luckily they all look pretty good too!):
Golden Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)
The long, trailing branches, and green and yellow heart-shaped leaves of the Golden Pothos look great dangling from a shelf or hanging basket.
benefits – removes benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air
how to look after them – The Golden Pothos is happy in both bright, indirect light and low light. It doesn’t like to be overwatered, so ensure that the top half of soil is able to dry out in between watering.
Peace Lily (Spathipyllum Wallisi)
Peace lilies are very striking plants, with their dark green foliage and year round white flowers. As their name suggests, they can bring a real sense of peace and calm to any room, and are one of the most effective at removing toxins.
benefits – removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia from the air
how to look after them – Peace Lilies enjoy humidity and are not a big fan of direct sunlight. Keep the soil moist from Spring to Autumn, and water sparingly in winter.
Snake Plant (Sanseveria)
The Snake Plant, also known as the Mother-in-law’s Tongue due to its sharp, pointy leaves, is one of the easiest to look after and hardest to kill! Therefore a great starter plant for the green-fingered newbies. While most plants take away oxygen at night snake plants give it off, therefore they’re the perfect plants for the bedroom.
benefits – removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene from the air
how to look after them – Snake plants grow best in bright light, but don’t mind being kept in the shade. Keep the soil moist but not wet, watering about every 10 to 14 days in spring and summer, and once a month during winter.
English Ivy (Hedera Helix)
English Ivy’s other name, Hedera Helix, comes from the Ancient Greek meaning ‘twist’ or turn’, which tells us a lot about their growing habits. They are often seen trailing along gardens or climbing fences, but can be just as happy indoors as a houseplant.
benefits – removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and mould from the air
how to look after them – English Ivy is happiest in bright, indirect light. It prefers cooler temperatures, the cooler the better, so make sure to keep it away from radiators. Keep the soil moist, but allow it to dry out slightly between watering.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Native to the South American tropics, Boston Ferns love humidity, so are great plants for the kitchen or bathroom. Their long, feather-like branches can add vibrancy to any space.
benefits – removes formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air
how to look after them – they’re happiest in a shady spot of a brightly lit room, away from any radiators. Their soil should be kept moist at all times, and should be watered 1-2 times per week. Every 6 months water the foliage with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of Epson salt and 2 litres of water in order to keep the leaves luscious and green.