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You may love plants in your home as a decorative element, because plants enhance the warmth and ambiance of a room. Architects, designers and builders who build healthy homes alike know the appeal of bringing “the outside in,” and design spaces to bring that natural element into your home. Did you know that plants do much more than improve the aesthetic appeal of your indoor environment? We’re going to show you some of the best air-purifying houseplants, improving the air quality inside your home. These plants will help you transform the air inside your home into fresh, oxygenated air so you and your family can enjoy a healthy home environment.
It is a shocking fact that the air inside your home is between two to five times more polluted than the air outside, according to the EPA.
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It is a shocking fact that the air inside your home is between two to five times more polluted than the air outside, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). In fact, burning fireplaces, candles and unclean ductwork and/or molds can make indoor air quality up to 100 times more toxic than outside air.
How Toxins Get Trapped Inside Your Home
In the late 1960s, Dr. B.C. “Bill” Wolverton, an environmental scientist and researcher for NASA, conducted studies about the ability of plants to eradicate toxins. In 1973, as a NASA researcher, Wolverton discovered 107 VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) inside the Skylab Space Station. The VOCs got into the Skylab’s air during the construction process when building materials naturally release low levels of chemicals into the air through a process known as offgassing. VOCs spread in enclosed environments, and because they are well-known irritants, as well as potential carcinogens, they can make you ill.
In 2016, CNN reported that Dr. Vadoud Niri, a chemistry professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) in Oswego, led a team of researchers to find the best houseplants for air quality that remove VOCs from the air. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are found in everyday household products like carpeting, cleaning supplies, any fabrics that were commercially dry cleaned, furniture, laminate flooring, printers, paint and other household products that we all use regularly in our homes.
Plants use carbon dioxide in the way we use oxygen. When you have plants in your home, they take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen, in addition to serving as Mother Nature’s air purifier. Here are some of the best houseplants to improve air quality that will become your friends inside your home.
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Aloe Vera is a succulent, which means that the plant holds water in its leaves. Those fleshy leaves contain the gel that is often used in health care products to treat burns and skin abrasions. It removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air. Those toxins are found in detergents, flooring finishes, laminate flooring and varnish.
Iconic Tip: Place in a window where it can get direct sunlight. LED grow lights can simulate sunlight in the absence of direct sun. Succulents like Aloe Vera have very shallow roots. Avoid overwatering the plant because that can rot the roots. It’s always better to underwater a succulent.
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Known as the Snake Plant, Sansevieria is also a succulent. It is effective at removing benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, trichloroethylene and xylene from the air. It is unusual in that it releases oxygen at night. Consequently, it may improve your quality of sleep. If you have sleeping trouble, consider putting a snake plant in your bedroom – especially on the nightstand next to your bed. It can be especially helpful for people who have breathing difficulties.
Iconic Tip: Snake plant tolerates low light. It can go for extended periods without water. It’s always to err on the side of underwatering a succulent because overwatering it leads to fungal diseases or worse.
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Beautiful as a groundcover or a houseplant, English ivy is a classically elegant choice that is also excellent for removing harmful chemicals found in the home. It can grow in full shade to full sun, can be trained into shapes, and with proper care, it is likely to survive for several years.
Iconic Tip: English Ivy plants prefer an evenly moist environment. Water the plants freely during growth. Keep English Ivy houseplants moist in the winter. Spraying English Ivy with soft water weekly will help prevent spider mites from infesting the plants.
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Jade plant is another succulent plant. It is easy to recognize because of its dark green leaves that are narrow at the base. Jade absorbs toluene that comes from cars, gasoline, heating oil, kerosene, lacquers and paints.
Iconic Tip: Jade is a succulent that needs bright light and soil that drains well. It is easy to grow, and you can keep it in the same pot for many years because it doesn’t mind being root bound. Jade will survive for weeks without water, so it’s the ideal plant for beginners and those who don’t want to grow high-maintenance plants.
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Spider plants are both fun and easy to grow. You’ll find them in solid green or variegated varieties with green and white leaves. Spider plants produce new plants that grow off of long stems that extend from the mother plant. Those baby plants can be propagated in water or soil. Spider plants can absorb more than 90 percent of Xylene from fuels, and p-Xylene that rubber and plastic products emit. It can also absorb as much as 90 percent of the carbon monoxide and formaldehyde toxins that many household products release. The spider plant is an excellent plant for homes with pets because it isn’t toxic to animals.
Iconic Tip: Spider plants tolerate most growing conditions. The most popular and practical way to grow them is in hanging baskets. Give them bright light during the day, and water them when the soil is dry.