4 Powerful Air Purifying Plants to Clean the Air in Your Home
“The air inside the average home is up to five times more polluted than the air outside”
NASA had a small problem on their hands when it came to long-period manned space missions. They needed an efficient, lasting source of clean air to keep astronauts alive and thriving during extended interstellar travel. What they discovered is that a few common houseplants, and one in particular—Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (botanical name: Sansevieria trifasciata)—did the job wonderfully and were also powerful air purifiers to boot.
Long, tongue-like leaves with sharp pointed tips earn Sansevieria trifasciata the endearingly euphemistic name of Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, although certain varieties also resemble the geometrically patterned scales of a snake. The sturdy leaves of Sansevieria shoot upwards majestically, with beautiful twists and turns that resemble a mobius strip.
One of the top air purifying plants identified by NASA, Sansevieria removes at least 107 known air pollutants, including carbon monoxide and nitrogen monoxide, formaldehyde, chloroform, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene among many others. Sansevieria also produces copious amounts of oxygen throughout the night, making it an excellent plant to keep in the bedroom.
Best of all, Sansevieria is an extremely resilient species that can go for weeks without water and seems to thrive in just about any climate, including those with low light, although they do appreciate direct sunlight and fresh air on occasion, which is characteristic of their native habitat of Madagascar.
MONEY PLANT [Epipremnum]
Native to Australia and Asia, the money plant earns its common name from its traditional use as a wealth and prosperity booster in the Chinese system of feng shui, which is the ancient art of harmonizing indoor spaces via the strategic placement of furniture, plants and other common household objects. Whether or not it brings you greater material abundance, Epipremnum aureum is a powerful air purifying plant that will clean the air in your house very effectively, due to its particular affinity for volatile organic compounds (otherwise known as VOCs) most commonly in the form of off-gassing from synthetic paint or carpets.
With long, wandering vines, don’t be surprised if your Money Plant slowly takes over your room, with vines reaching up to 30 to 40 feet. You can, of course, trim them if you want to keep your plant more modest. Epipremnum aureum does best in rooms with indirect light and requires regular watering. Be warned, however, the leaves of the plant are toxic when ingested and if you have dogs, cats or small children, you may want to keep the plant suspended in a pot well out of reach.
ARECA PALM [Chrysalidocarpus lutescens ]
Also known as the Butterfly Palm and the Areca Palm, is another hardy plant native to Madagascar that does an excellent job as an indoor, air purifying plant, with a particular penchant for formaldehydes, benzene and carbon monoxide. As an added benefit beyond air purification, Chrysalidocarpus lutescens is also a natural humidifier, producing a liter of ambient water every 24 hours, making it a well suited plant for dry climates or those with breathing troubles.
Bamboo Palms grow rapidly and can become quite large (up to 20 feet in height), but you can limit their vertical reach by keeping them confined to smaller pots. They prefer bright, filtered light and enjoy being watered frequently when growing, however, in the winter months they tend to need less.