Our Favorite Air-Purifying Houseplants

Home Design

by Fergie McGuire 69 Views 0

Indoor plants don’t just look good, they make us feel good mentally and physically, too.
Studies have shown indoor plants:
  • Boost mood, productivity, concentration and creativity
  • Reduce stress, fatigue, sore throats and colds
  • Clean indoor air by absorbing toxins, increasing humidity and producing oxygen
  • Add life to a sterile office, give privacy and reduce noise levels
  • Are therapeutic and cheaper than a therapist

It’s true when we say plants make people happy.

Plants Against Pollution

Pollution levels on the planet earth are on the rise. If you live in a busy, dense city, you encounter pollution everyday. It wreaks havoc on our skin, our hair and most of all, the air we breathe. Pollution is not just outside. It’s in the places we call ‘work’ and ‘home’.

Sick Building Syndrome is a term used to describe symptoms experienced by otherwise healthy people working in large commercial buildings -- think sudden allergies; irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; headache, dizziness, and fatigue; respiratory and sinus congestion; and nervous system disorders. In 1989, Dr. Bill Wolverton, a leading scientist in NASA’s Clean Air Study revealed, “when the building occupants are away for a given time, the symptoms usually diminish, only to recur upon re-entry into the building.”

The cause? Indoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution is generally a consequence of toxic emissions from synthetic building materials, airborne mold, viruses, and pollutants, along with energy efficient construction, like making spaces as airtight as possible, which reduces the air circulation. These contributors release toxin emissions such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.

Gross, right?

It’s not just big commercial buildings either. These compounds can be found in almost every home. Not great news when the Environmental Protection Agency estimates Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors.

Most wall paints, rubbers, vinyl, laminates, computer parts and plastics all break down over time and release compounds into the air we breathe. The good news is, we can improve our indoor air quality with plants. Plants absorb harmful toxins, breaking them down into gentle byproducts, and storing them in their soil to use later for food.

Back to Nature

When you feel a little low, it’s amazing how a walk in the park can do wonders. That’s because when we get in touch with nature, we reduce mental fatigue and stress, while increasing relaxation and self-esteem. Even brief exposure to nature has been shown to make us more altruistic and cooperative. This study shows touching real foliage elicits an unconscious calming effect. Other studies like the lean vs green study show where indoor plants are present, work performance increases, staff well-being improves and employees take less sick days.

We are only beginning to understand the impact indoor air quality has on our mental health and work performance, but so far, the introduction of indoor plants to improve indoor air and reduce pollution points to positive outcomes.

Plants for Purification

Here are some of our favorite air-purifying plants,

Snake Plant

This no-fuss tropical plant has thin, upright leaves with irregular banding that resembles the skin of a reptile. Its adaptations for surviving drought make it a suitable plant choice for anyone, anywhere. Snake Plants have been shown to filter benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene.

Pothos

Nicknamed the “cubicle plant” at our office, the Pothos is our go-to for brown-thumbed customers with less than ideal conditions. Like the similar-looking Philodendron, the Pothos's trailing vines can grow to over 10 feet long. The Pothos has been shown to filter benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.

Rubber Plant

A popular houseplant, this variety of ficus has thick upright stems with glossy, oversized leaves that can store water in case of drought. They prefer bright to moderate indirect light. Rubber Plants have been shown to filter formaldehyde.

ZZ plant

A ZZ Plant is a spectacular choice for any low-light environment. They are extremely dry-tolerant and low maintenance. In addition, the plant meaning of ZZ is prosperity and friendship, making it a gift for the plant lover in your life.

Bird’s Nest Fern

The Bird’s Nest Fern is characterized by ripple-edged fronds that grow out of a nest-like crown. It makes for a lovely hanging plant indoor. They thrive in indirect light and a humid environment. Ferns have been shown to filter formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.

Philodendron

In the right indoor conditions, the Philodendron’s heart-shaped leaves and trailing vines can trail to over 10 feet long, making it the perfect plant for a high shelf. Did we mention it has a reputation of being one of the easiest houseplants to grow Philodendrons have been shown to filter formaldehyde.

With air-purifying in mind, we hope you’ll make any one of these plants an addition to your home or office.

Authors Note

NASA recommends one 8” potted plant per every 100 square feet of space (with an average ceiling height of 9 feet.).  The more, the better.

For more information, check out NASA’s Clean Air Study and Dr. B.C. “Bill” Wolverton’s “How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office”.

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