While most plants are just nice to look at, these also let you breathe a little easier too. We’ve collected a list of the top air purifying plants to help detoxify your interiors. This is perfect if you find yourself spending more time at home and are worried about your indoor air quality. Each of the plant on this list is known for being especially able to purify the air to help make breathing easier.
Calathea Prayer Plants
The Calathea family includes a variety of plants known for striking patterns and the ability to move individual leaves throughout the day, known scientifically as nyctinasty. This rapid movement has led to the nickname “prayer plant” for many of these plants, as they raise their leaves vertically at night and fan them out to catch the sun throughout the day based on a natural circadian rhythm. Prayer plants come in a variety of colors and patterns, and have been known to help purify the air thanks to their large and lush leaves. Another added bonus is that they are very cat and dog friendly, and completely non-toxic to these pets.
A favorite among new plant parents and seasoned growers, Sansevieria – or Snake Plants – aren’t just popular given that they require virtually no care, their long, flat and waxy leaves are also incredibly efficient at purifying the air, removing harmful pollutants. While they require minimal water and thrive in all kinds of lighting conditions, it’s a great idea to give your Snake Plant a little love by regularly wiping down its leaves with a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt that may deposit there. Keeping your leaves clean will make sure your plant can properly photosynthesize and help release clean air to your home. Their easy-going nature and beauty also make Snake Plants one of our top picks on our list of plants that are hard to kill.
A popular plant category that happens to be very efficient at purifying the air is the Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema). These plants sport large, textured leaves known for purifying the air around them. There are several different varieties to choose from, each sporting a unique set of variegated leaves. The ample availability at local nurseries, ease of care, and ability to filter the indoor air make them great additions to any plant collection – whether you’re just starting out or already have an indoor jungle.
Beyond prayer plants, the Calathea Rattlesnake is another member of the Calathea family that also happens to be one of the top air purifying plants. Though you may notice similar textures on the Rattlesnake’s leaves, the overall structure of this Calathea is much more centralized and less vine-like than a prayer plant. Despite the difference in looks, the Rattlesnake Calathea is also an incredible air purifying plant. Like other Calatheas, you should spend regular time wiping its leaves down as they are somewhat susceptible to bugs like spider mites, and clean leaves will also help them photosynthesize and process the indoor air more effectively.
Elephant Ear Alocasia
Alocasia is yet another plant family that is known for its air purifying properties. Speicifically, the Elephant Ear Alocasia has been found to be an especially strong air purifier. From a New York Times profile, “The leaves of elephant ear, known scientifically as Philodendron domesticum, and golden pothos, or Scindapsus aureus, demonstrated their ability to remove benzene and carbon monoxide from closed chambers.” The plants are also good at removing other toxins such as formaldehyde. These aspects of the Elephant Ear Alocasia, matched with the striking gray-green patterened leaves makes this plant a solid contender when looking to take home one of the top air purifying plants.
The Spider Plant is also very well known for its ability to filter the air around it. As part of the historic NASA experiments on air purification, the Spider Plant has been long recognized at its ability to remove airborne toxins. From the National Wildlife Federation’s coverage on this topic, “The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), which tested the abilities of three common houseplants to remove formaldehyde from the air, found in preliminary tests that spider plants were the champs, removing 95 percent of the toxic substance from a sealed Plexiglas chamber in 24 hours.” While real-world results in larger spaces won’t be as eye-opening, Spider Plants are still an incredible plant for making the air we breathe cleaner.
The ZZ Plant is another great houseplant candidate if you’re looking for ways to breathe easy. Their waxy leaves, lined on long stems, are very efficient at filtering indoor air throughout the day, and make them one of our favorite dark green plants you can purchase. Like other plants on this list, it’s also important to keep your ZZ Plant healthy to ensure it can help remove toxins from the air. Make sure to water it sporadically and that it has a well-draining container. Built-up moisture could lead to root rot, bacteria, and pests which could potentially remove any air-improving effects if not given the right care.
The Parlor Palm was an original member of the historic NASA clear air study conducted in 1989 to understand the role houseplants play in purifying the air in controlled environments. It was one of the best performers, being among the few houseplants tested that was able to remove toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia from the air. Given how Parlor Palms thrive in indoor settings, and can thrive in a variety of lighting conditions, it’s no surprise that they are one of the most popular indoor plants that are also one of the top air purifying plants you can get today.
Aloe Vera, maybe better known for it’s medicinal properties to treat small cuts and burns, is also a plant that has moderate air purifying properties. While a beautiful desert succulent, it’s also been known to help purifying the air, removing impurities such as benzine and formaldehyde from the air. The plant’s tolerance for low humidity, low water and bright light make it a great choice if your home is in a hot, dry environment that gets plenty of sunlight.
The Verdict on the Top Air Purifying Plants
We hope you find this list helpful if you’re looking to focus on picking plants that will work hard to purify your air. From the original NASA study and follow-up reports, if you’re relying on a single plant to completely clean your air, you will not see great results. Instead, a good measurement to keep in mind is having one plant for every 100 square feet of space.
Also, adding a variety of plants will help make sure they’re working together to clean your space. Beyond this, helping your plants with retail air purifiers will ensure that dust, dirt, chemicals and viruses will be kept at all time lows. If you have pets, frequent brushings and vacuuming will also keep dander and other irritants to a minimum, helping you breathe easier.