A great way to improve the air quality in your home is to add some air purifying houseplants! Not only do they look beautiful, but houseplants can also clean and filter indoor air to remove toxins, as well as reduce mould spores and bacteria.
Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers poor indoor air quality to be “among the top five environmental risks to public health”?
Yes, you read that right—the air inside our homes, schools, and offices is a top public health risk! Isn’t that just wild?
When I think of pollution, I think of smog, car exhaust, and trash littering the streets and waterways. I never once considered that my own home could be a source of pollution—and a significant one, at that!
So how can we improve the air quality in our indoor spaces?
One of the best ways to do that is by bringing in air purifying houseplants!
It’s true—houseplants can brighten up any indoor space, but studies have shown the power of plants to clean and filter indoor air to remove toxins, as well as reduce mould spores and bacteria.
In 1989, scientists at NASA conducted a Clean Air Study and identified 12 houseplants that remove (or reduce) indoor air pollutants and gases, like benzene and formaldehyde, among others.
For more than 30 years, the lead scientist for that study, Dr. B.C. Wolverton, has produced some of the most well-known and reputable research papers on this topic.
He also published a book, How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 House- plants that Purify Your Home and Office, which explains more of his findings and ranks the plants in descending order from the most effective at removing air pollutants, to the least.
Each plant has its own two-page spread with a full-colour photo, information on how to care for the plant, and which specific toxins it removes from the air. If you’re looking to bring more houseplants into your home and need some guidance, I highly recommend this book!
I’ve compiled 15 of my favourite air purifying houseplants from Dr. Wolverton’s book into the list below. They’re listed in the same order that they appear in the book—from the most effective to the least—and their scientific names are provided in parenthesis. These are plants that I’ve grown myself and are fairly easy to find at your local garden centre.
The only thing missing from the book, that I wish he would have included, is a warning about the possible toxicity of each plant. Most houseplants are toxic if ingested and can cause mild to severe reactions, so it’s important to keep them out of reach of small children and pets.
So after the scientific name of each plant below, I’ve noted if they’re SAFE or NOT SAFE to keep around pets, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website.
Air Purifying Houseplants
- Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) SAFE
- Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta) NOT SAFE
- Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena dermensis) NOT SAFE
- Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) SAFE
- Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”) SAFE
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) NOT SAFE
- Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) NOT SAFE
- Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) SAFE
- Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) NOT SAFE
- Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia camilla) NOT SAFE
- Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata / laurentii) NOT SAFE
- Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura “Kerchoveann”) SAFE
- Dwarf Banana (Musa cavendishii) SAFE
- Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) SAFE
- Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) SAFE
Download the Printable!
Click the image below to download a printable with all 15 plants! Get the full list of 15 air purifying houseplants with close up, hi-res images, common and scientific names, as well as notes on their safety for pets!
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