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12 Plants to Purify the Air You Breathe (1 of 2)

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Are you worried about the quality of the air you’re breathing? Outdoors, we have to cope with external pollution such as manufacturing works and businesses, vehicles, and second-hand smoke.

Indoors, we are subjected to that same air and to all toxic chemicals found in the cleaning products you use or the paint on your walls. Add to that the hundreds of microorganisms living in apartments or houses.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) published the Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement report. This clean air study examined various plants to learn if they could absorb and purify toxins and microorganisms from indoor air. This study found that certain plants could function as natural air filters to remove organic air pollutants.

Here is a list, based on this report and other sources of proven research, of the top indoor plants that can help purify your home’s air and protect you and your family from toxins and microorganisms. Many of these plants are easy to grow and keep in your home or place of work.

Houseplants are a beneficial addition to any room and bring lively beauty. The right plant can complement the whole room and help create fresher air for you and your family. It is helpful to have a good understanding of how each variety of plants works in helping clean the air.

Living plants require attention. If you overwater, they might build mold or other fungi that will deteriorate the air. Follow directions and care for your plants appropriately so they thrive and help remove all toxins from your air.

Pothos or Devil's Ivy

Pothos or Devil's Ivy

1. Pothos

Pothos (Golden Pothos or Devil’s Ivy) is one of the easiest houseplants to keep alive. A tropical plant, it prefers the warmth of an indoor setting. It is a trailing vine with heart-shaped leaves and can grow from six to ten feet in length.

Pothos will accept low light and humidity, so it is easy to satisfy and maintain. For healthier growth, give it bright but indirect sunlight and let the soil dry out between waterings.

As well, choose a well-draining potting soil. If your Pothos has pale leaves, it is probably getting too much sun, though if you start to notice the appearance of differently colored zones within the leaves, it means it is getting too little sunlight.

If this plant starts to get a little leggy, prune it back to control the length.

Note that Pothos and philodendron plants are often confused. Pothos stems are grooved, in contrast to philodendron stems. New philodendron leaves have a sheath that dries and falls off; Pothos does not have this sheath.

Pothos like brighter light and warmer temperatures than philodendrons.

Tip: Pothos are not heavy feeders, so fertilize monthly to bi-monthly during the growing season.

Because it removes toxins like formaldehyde and benzene generally found in fresh paint, you often see this plant in offices or living rooms. Pothos can be placed in bedrooms as this plant absorbs carbon monoxide as well as xylene and trichloroethylene.

Caution: This plant causes oral irritation and trouble swallowing in pets, so make sure your dog or cat does not chew on the leaves or stems.

Dwarf Date Palm

Dwarf Date Palm

2. Dwarf Date Palm

The pygmy date palm is a member of the Arecaceae family, an enormous group with over 2,600 species growing in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world.

This particular type is called the date palm because the small yellow flowers on the female trees give way to purplish dates once fertilized.

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Palms have many graceful arching frond-like leaves that branch directly from the trunk and the dwarf or pygmy variety can reach a height of six to ten feet.

In the wild in Southeast Asia and Africa, they grow in the dense underbrush along riverbanks, in full sun to partial shade. They don’t like a lot of direct sunlight, but a little will be all it needs.

Tip: Try a south-facing or east-facing window.

Your palm will need plenty of water so plant it in sandy, well-drained soil and keep a regular watering schedule.

Date palms prefer temperatures above 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (10-23 degrees Celsius) so keep them away from cold drafts in winter.

It’s easy to keep a pygmy palm tree pruned by removing the dry or damaged leaves at the trunk. They’re slow growers, so be patient.

However, if you see chlorotic or spotted leaves, your palm likely requires magnesium or potassium. Feed your palm with a slow-release granular fertilizer while it’s actively growing.

Palm trees remove xylene and formaldehyde, so they’re good for a freshly painted or refurbished room, office, or living room.

Peace Lily

Peace Lily

3. Peace Lily

Peace lilies are simple plants for any indoor space. There’s a trick to getting them to flower.

Standing one to four feet tall, their dark green leaves provide a lovely background for the white flowers. They grow on the forest floor in the tropics where they get partial shade and plenty of moisture.

Peace Lilies are perennial plants, not actual lilies, which means that with proper care, they’ll live for years. They want bright, indirect light to grow best. Keep the soil moist, but not damp.

Provide your lily with a protected area away from drafty windows or doors. They are tropical plants that don’t do well in cool temperatures. If you provide the proper environment, your lily should bloom over and over for years.

Starting in late winter, fertilize every six weeks or so with good all-purpose plant food during spring and summer.

Toxins removed by this plant include benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene.

Caution: Peace Lily leaves have a compound that causes swelling of the tongue or vomiting when eaten, so keep your plants away from children and pets.

Philondendron

Philondendron

4. Philodendron

Philodendron is a vine with heart-shaped leaves. It’s a simple houseplant to grow. It does come in vining and non-vining varieties

Philodendron can thrive living indoors throughout the year, but it does like being outdoors sometimes to a warm, shady location where you can rinse the roots with fresh water and wipe off the leaves.

This plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight. Make sure the sun doesn’t touch the foliage. If they have yellow leaves, your plant may be getting too much sunlight.

Let the top inch of soil dry out between waterings. Droopy leaves mean the plant is not pleased with your watering schedule, so either ease off or water more.

Slow growth and small leaf size mean your plant is not getting needed nutrients and may benefit from fertilizer. Pale new leaves may indicate a lack of calcium or magnesium.

Fertilize monthly during spring and summer, and every six to eight weeks during fall and winter.

Philodendrons remove formaldehyde from the air, which is good with a freshly painted or refurbished room or office.

Caution: Eating this plant can burn the mouths of your pets and cause excess salivation and trouble swallowing. Keep them out of reach of your pet.

Spider plant

Spider plant

5. Spider Plant

The spider plant is perhaps one of the most easygoing houseplants and can thrive in various conditions with few problems other than brown tips. It’s the ideal plant for an amateurish gardener.

Spider plants like bright, indirect sunlight and well-drained soil. They like the soil to dry out a bit between waterings, and cooler temperatures of 12-18 degrees Celsius.

They are called spider plants because of the little “spiderettes” that dangle out of the mother plant like spiders on a web. These spiderettes often begin as small white flowers. The plant enjoys being semi-root bound, so don’t repot until the large fleshy roots are visible and watering is harder.

Your spider plant will appreciate the occasional pruning back to the base of the plant.

If you do see brown tips on the leaves, it is likely due to excess fluoride in the soil from tap water. Switch to distilled water or even rainwater.

Fertilize once a month during spring and summer, and not at all in the fall and winter.

Spider plants remove formaldehyde and xylene from the air, so keep them in your freshly painted or refurbished room or office.

Caution: This plant has a compound related to opium, which can cause stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep your spider plants up away from the pets. A hanging basket would work.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Lola

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