While most people who love gardening in Colorado appreciate houseplants for their ability to add life to long winter days, few understand just how healthful it is to have these green beauties inside of the house. Houseplants have been shown to increase happiness, speed up the healing process and even lower blood pressure; all by simply adding a bit of calm and green to our indoor environment.In the late 1980s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America studied the effect of houseplants working as air purification systems in space facilities. The study showed that indoor plants actually significantly reduce volatile organic compounds (or VOCs).
What does that mean for us? VOCs can cause headaches and other nasty ailments, so with plants in your home, you will naturally feel better. Plants are also natural humidifiers and can soften the air, and increase the moisture level in your home. This helps to moisturize dry skin and reduces cold-related illnesses. Some plants, like eucalyptus, can even help clear phlegm and congestion from your system.
NASA researchers suggest efficient air cleaning is accomplished with at least one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space. So an 1800 hundred square foot house would need 18 plants.
How do houseplants clean the air? Plants absorb some of the particulates from the air at the same time that they take in carbon dioxide, which is then processed into oxygen through photosynthesis. But that’s not all… microorganisms associated with the plants are present in the potting soil, and these microbes are also responsible for much of the cleaning effect.
The following list of air filtering plants was compiled as part of the NASA Clean Air Study, which researched ways to clean air in space stations.
|Plant, removes:||Benzene||Formaldehyde||Trichloroethylene||Xylene and Toluene||Ammonia||Toxic to dogs, cats|
|Aloe vera (Aloe vera)||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||toxic|
|Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens)||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||non-toxic|
|Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||non-toxic|
|Banana (Musa Oriana)||No||Yes||No||No||No||non-toxic|
|Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||non-toxic|
|Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||non-toxic|
|Broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||non-toxic|
|Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||toxic|
|Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||toxic|
|Dendrobium orchids (Dendrobium spp.)||No||No||No||Yes||No||non-toxic|
|Devil’s ivy, Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||No||toxic|
|Dumb canes (Dieffenbachia spp.)||No||No||No||Yes||No||toxic|
|Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||non-toxic|
|Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)||No||Yes||No||No||No||toxic|
|English ivy (Hedera helix)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||toxic|
|Flamingo lily (Anthurium andraeanum)||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||toxic|
|Florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||toxic|
|Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)||No||Yes||No||No||No||toxic|
|Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||toxic|
|Kimberly queen fern (Nephrolepis obliterata)||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||non-toxic|
|King of hearts (Homalomena wallisii)||No||No||No||Yes||No||toxic|
|Lilyturf (Liriope spicata)||No||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||non-toxic|
|Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.)||No||No||No||Yes||No||non-toxic|
|Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||toxic|
|Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||toxic|
|Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)||No||Yes||No||No||No||toxic|
|Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||non-toxic|
|Variegated snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||toxic|
|Warneckei (Dracaena deremensis “Warneckei”)||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||toxic|
|Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)||No||Yes||No||Yes||No||toxic|
Here is the link to the original 1989 Nasa Indoor Air Pollutant Abatement study. Lots of scientific terms but really fascinating! Clean Air Study
Information credit: Wikipedia