Last Updated on June 2, 2022 by Gary Stephen
Plants are beautiful and amazing on their own. But, with the ability to filter out the air, now that’s even more awesome! So, in this article, we will tell which indoor plants have this fantastic ability. Moreover, we have picked 7 of the best Plants That Can Remove Toxins & Purify the Air. And, we will also teach you the basics of how to care for them.
In short, certain plants have the remarkable capacity to absorb harmful toxins. Thus, effectively purifying the air in the immediate surroundings. In a way, this makes it a lot cleaner and healthier for us to breathe into.
It is actually like having a lush green garden and a natural air purifying machine at the same time. Pretty amazing, right?
What is NASA Clean Air Study?
The NASA Clean Air Study is a research project spearheaded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This study is also conducted in partnership with the Associated Landscape Constructors of America, or ALCA in short. The goal of the study is to determine ways on how to efficiently clean the air inside the space station.
Normally, the process of photosynthesis allows the exchange of gases. The plants that purify the air will absorb the carbon dioxide in the surroundings. At the same time, it also releases oxygen out into the atmosphere. This cycle is what usually happens in all plant species.
In the study, though, it was found that there are actually certain types of plants that have the extra ability to remove toxins. Organic volatile compounds such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene, and ammonia are among the pollutants being tested.
For the air cleaning to be effective, the study suggests a ratio of at least 1 plant per 100 square feet of area. Nevertheless, the research was being conducted within the confines of the space stations. Typical household and office environments, however, may require differently.
Summary of Plants That Purify Air
Here are the top 20 plants among the long list of plants that purify the air included in the NASA Clean Air Study:
|Variegated Snake Plant||✔||✔||✔||✔||✔|
|Kimberly Queen Fern||✔||✔||✔|
Top 7 Indoor Plants that Purify Air And Remove Toxin
1. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)
Common Name: Peace Lily, Spathe Leaf, White Sails
Scientific Name: Spathiphyllum spp.
Origin: Central and South America, Southeast Asia
Description: Peace lilies come with glossy dark green oval-shaped foliage. Once in a while, it graces you with beautiful creamy white calla lily-like blooms. Hence, it is being referred to as peace lily despite not being a “true” lily plant. On average, a mature plant can grow 2 to 3 feet in height.
How to care for peace lily plant:
Light: Bright indirect lighting. A distance of 6 to 8 feet away from a north or west-facing window is best.
Soil: Well-draining potting soil.
Water: Once a week during spring and summer. Water less often in wintertime.
Temperature: Can adapt to normal indoor room temperature. Usually between 65°F to 85°F.
Fertilizer: Balanced fertilizer diluted to 25% to 50% strength.
Pruning: When necessary, make the cut at the base of the stem.
Repotting: Every other year.
Propagation: Propagation by division.
Pest & Problems: Fairly resistant against insects and diseases. If it does get affected, however, spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs are the most common culprits.
2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)
Common Name: Lady palm, Fan palm
Scientific Name: Rhapis excelsa
Origin: Southern China
Description: The lady palms are a smaller variety of palm species. Its foliage grows in dense clumps stemming right off slender bamboo-like trunks. It comes with glossy evergreen fan-shaped leaves. Each of which is marked with 5 to 8 narrow segments. A mature plant can grow up to 6 feet tall indoors. However, its height can double up to 15 feet when being grown outdoors.
How to care for lady palm:
Light: Full but indirect sunlight. Best placed in an east-facing window indoors.
Soil: Use well-draining loamy soil. A ready-made African violet potting mix can work too.
Water: It is fairly drought-tolerant once established. During spring and summer, allow the top 1-inch of the soil to dry before watering. By winter, give it more time until the top 2 inches of the soil has dried out.
Temperature: Can adapt to normal indoor room temperature. Usually between 60°F to 80°F.
Fertilizer: Use a balanced fertilizer diluted at half strength. Feed on a monthly basis only during its active growth phase between April to September.
Pruning: Trim off the brown tips only if you must.
Repotting: Repot every other year to a slightly larger container.
Propagation: Best done by division.
Pest & Problems: Lady palms are hardy plants. However, you should watch out for pests like scales and spider mites.
3. Parlour Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Common Name: Parlour palm, Parlor palm, Neanthe bella
Scientific Name: Chamaedorea elegans
Origin: Central America
Description: Parlour palm is another compact and slow-growing variety of palm plants. It comes with narrow light green fronds that are about 8 inches long. Often single-trunked, it can grow up 2 to 6 feet indoors. Nevertheless, it can reach as tall as 16 feet if grown naturally outdoors.
How to care for parlour palm:
Light: Can tolerate low-lighting but thrives best under bright indirect sunlight.
Soil: Well-draining peat-based potting soil.
Water: Water every 1 to 2 weeks. Allow soil to dry between watering sessions.
Temperature: Can adapt to normal indoor room temperature. Usually between 65°F to 80°F.
Fertilizer: Parlor palms are light feeders. You can use balanced liquid plant food once a month. Or, dilute it at quarter strength for weekly feeding.
Pruning: You can trim off the dead and unhealthy foliage once in a while.
Repotting: Parlor palms have a fairly weak root system. Thus, re-pot only when roots already start to break out from the container.
Propagation: Best to propagate by division.
Pest & Problems: Parlor palms are hardy plants. The biggest struggle one often encounters with this type is overwatering. Aside from that, look for spider mite and mealybug infestations too.
4. Florist’s Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Common Name: Florist’s chrysanthemum, Pot mum
Scientific Name: Chamaedorea elegans
Origin: Asia, Northeastern Europe
Description: The florist’s chrysanthemum is a flowering perennial plant with dark green deep-lobed foliage. But, what is strikingly beautiful about it are its vividly colored blooms. It often comes in varying shades of pink, purple, red, burgundy, and crisp white and golden yellow too.
How to care for the florist’s chrysanthemum:
Light: Full direct sunlight.
Soil: Well-draining potting soil.
Water: Water thoroughly enough to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.
Temperature: Chrysanthemums love to be in a slightly cooler environment. A temperature range between 55°F to 65°F suits it comfortably.
Fertilizer: Use potassium and nitrogen-rich plant foods. This will likely encourage larger blooms both in size and quantity.
Pruning: Cut back the stems 6 inches from the base after it is completely done blooming to encourage regrowth.
Repotting: Repot as the plant becomes rootbound.
Propagation: It is easier to propagate a florist’s chrysanthemum through stem cuttings.
Pest & Problems: Florist’s chrysanthemum is quite delicate. It is likely to get affected by pests including aphids, spider mites, thrips, and whiteflies. Moreover, it is also prone to getting leaf spots, rust, and powdery mildew.
5. Variegated Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata ‘Laurentii’).
Common Name: Variegated snake plant, Mother-in-law’s tongue, Devil’s tongue, Goldband sansevieria
Scientific Name: Sansevieria Trifasciata var. Laurentii
Origin: India, Indonesia, Africa
Description: Snake plants are fleshy dark green leaves in stiff sword-like shape. The laurentii variety features gray and green zigzag patterns in the middle. Meanwhile, the siding of the leaves is being marked with yellow-colored margins. This robust plant can grow as tall as 4 feet in height.
Light: Can adapt to a wide range of light conditions. However, it will grow optimally if exposed to moderate and indirect sunlight.
Soil: Well-draining sandy soil.
Water: It is drought-tolerant by nature since its fleshy leaves can store water. Hence, you should allow the plant to dry between watering sessions.
Temperature: Snake plants prefer a warmer climate between 70°F to 90°F.
Fertilizer: Use a balanced fertilizer diluted at half strength. Alternately, you can also use a mild cactus fertilizer.
Pruning: There is no absolute need to prune snake plants. But, it is entirely up to your liking.
Repotting: It is best to repot when you see roots starting to creep out of the drain holes.
Propagation: The fastest way to propagate snake plant is through division. Although, propagation by cutting is also feasible.
Pest & Problems: Snake plants are prone to get overwatered. Thus, watch out for root rotting aside from the common mealybugs and spider mite infestation.
6. Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
Common Name: Red-edged dracaena, Madagascar dragon tree, Dragon blood tree
Scientific Name: Dracaena marginata
Description: It is called a red-edged dracaena for a very obvious reason. It features green sword-like leaves with its edge lined with red margins. This striking foliage stems from multiple bamboo-like canes. Red-edged dracaena can grow up to 6 feet when potted. Although, it can reach as high as 15 feet outdoors.
How to care for red-edge dracaena:
Light: Grow best under bright yet indirect sunlight.
Soil: Loose well-draining potting soil mix.
Water: It is a very drought-tolerant plant. It can even last up to 3 weeks without watering. Hence, it is best to allow the top half of the soil to dry first before attempting to water again.
Temperature: Red-edge dracaena likes it a bit warmer. It suits comfortably well within a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F.
Fertilizer: This plant doesn’t necessarily require fertilizers. Then again, doing so will help boost its growth. You can apply a slow-release balanced plant food during its active growth phase.
Pruning: Prune your plant to maintain your desired shape and size. Make sure to do this when it is actively growing.
Repotting: Root crowding is the best indication that your plant needs to be repotted. If so, transplant it to a slightly bigger pot to accommodate further growth.
Propagation: The easier way to propagate red-edge dracaena is through stem cutting.
Pest & Problems: Red-edged dracaena are prone to get overwatered and leaf spots. Apart from that, you should also watch out for mites, scales. thrips, and mealybug infestations.
7. Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’)
Common Name: Cornstalk dracaena, Corn plant, Mass cane
Scientific Name: Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’
Description: The term cornstalk dracaena came from its distinct corn yellow stripes. This feature runs across the midline of each foliage. If you are lucky enough, this plant can bloom with clusters of fragrant white flowers too.
How to care for cornstalk dracaena:
Light: Best grown under bright yet indirect sunlight. Too little light and it might lose its variegation. Meanwhile, too much lighting can scorch its leaves too.
Soil: Loose, loamy, and well-draining potting soil mix.
Water: Water thoroughly but not to the point that it gets soggy. Allow soil to dry between waterings.
Temperature: Cornstalk dracaena fairs well in normal room temperature. Make sure to maintain temperature between 60°F to 75°F.
Fertilizer: You can use an all-purpose liquid plant food every 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure to dilute it accordingly to prevent overfertilization.
Pruning: Cornstalk dracaena are relatively slow-growers. Thus, doesn’t require pruning too often. Nevertheless, you can trim off the foliage to maintain a good shape.
Repotting: As a slow-growing plant, you may need to repot it every 2 to 3 years or so.
Propagation: Same with red-edge dracaena, the easiest way to propagate it is through stem cuttings.
Pest & Problems: Dracaenas, in general, are quite sensitive to fluoridated water. When build-up occurs, it can cause discoloration of the leaves as well as browning of the tips. Again, also monitor for scales, thrips, and spider mite infestations.
Wrapping Up about Plants that Purify Air
I must say, plants truly are beauty with a purpose. Apart from being a feast for the eyes to see, they also do actually help to clean the air. The plants that purify the air in the list are just a few among those included in the NASA Clean Air Study. For sure, there should be more plant varieties to be added to the list in the coming future.