Cleaning Your Indoor Air with Plants
By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
|Hibiscus 'Bon Temps'|
All plants will clean the air. However, some plants do a better job than others. Plants with a larger leaf surface have a greater ability to clean the air. Plants actually breathe. PLANTS BY DAY, let off oxygen and take in carbon dioxide and PLANTS BY NIGHT, let off carbon dioxide and take in oxygen. During plant respiration, glucose is broken down into water, carbon dioxide and energy.
This is a natural filtering system of air molecules. Air molecules containing pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene (found in paints, particle board, foam insulation, plastics) and even chemical gases coming out of materials such as new rugs or furniture also gets filtered out of the air by plants. In our opinion, the more plants the better. However, for beginners, we recommend indestructible plants to start. Plants such as Dracaenas, Ficus, Spider plants, Philodendrons, Crotons, Sanseverias are easy to care for and very suitable for home environments.
Decorative tropical plants such as Hibiscus, Thunbergias, Weeping Blue Ginger, Heliconias, will clean the air but need much more light and attention to thrive and grow.
NASA has done many studies of plants for cleaning air. They tested indoor plants or tropical plants that needed low light. The plants that grow under the dense canopy of the jungle in their native land need to have efficient photosynthesis systems. NASA has a famous list of plants that are proven air cleaners. These plants have often been found in offices to combat the well-known "Sick Building Syndrome." This is when the air that you breathe in buildings becomes toxic because there are no air-filtration systems in place. Today, people are more aware of this problem and have used Hepa filter systems, ozonators or plants.
If you are trying to clean the air of a 2,000 sq foot home, NASA recommends at least 15 plants grown in 6-inch pots. Here is a partial list of the simple and common plants NASA recommends.
- English Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Spider Plant (Cholorophytum comosum)
- Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures)
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum hybrids)
- Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema hybrids )
- Bamboo plant (Chamaedorea sefritzii)
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria hybrids)
- Philodendrons (Philodendron hybrids)