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Plants are indispensable to human life. Through photosynthesis, they convert the carbon dioxide we exhale into fresh oxygen, and they can also remove toxins from the air we breathe. Who wouldn’t want a couple of good ol’ plants in their home?
But exactly how many plants are needed to purify air in a given space?
People are familiar with the benefits of having living plants in their homes and offices. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they also absorb and filter toxins from the atmosphere, increasing air quality and our well-being.
The amount of carbon dioxide required to increase the air’s oxygen concentration in a room is approximately the same amount as is produced by a human being in an hour.
This is why a houseplant in a room can easily absorb carbon dioxide, making the air quality more favorable. Indoor plants also filter out various toxins from the air and many even remove certain airborne chemical compounds.
Indoor plants are an inexpensive way to effectively improve air quality in most offices and homes. However, we should keep in mind that different plants have different needs. Some are tolerant of low light conditions, while others need bright sunlight. Outdoor plants are affected by pollution, while indoor plants placed near a drafty window may dry out quickly. So, it’s important to select the right plant for our space.
If we have a small or medium-sized house, a single plant will be enough to keep the air clean. For each additional person in the house, we’d need about one more plant.
In offices, depending on the amount of traffic the room receives and its size, we need about six to eight plants. A larger office space can hold more plants.
For public areas such as airports or stations, a few dozen plants may be required.
How Many Plants Do I Need To Purify Air?
There are three types of plants suitable for planting in individual homes:
- Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens)
This plant is a beautiful addition to any house, and it’s effective in cleansing formaldehyde pollution. It is tolerant of low light, so it can be placed in any room. Its beautiful architecture makes it a wonderful interior design element.
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum Wallisii/Mauna Loa)
This tropical plant is effective in cleansing a variety of indoor air pollutants, including formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It requires bright light, and it grows quite tall, so it’s ideal for large rooms.
- Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron Selloum)
This plant requires a moderate amount of light, and it is effective in filtering out airborne toxins, including ammonia, benzene and carbon monoxide as well as certain metals such as copper and mercury. It’s relatively easy to maintain, and it’s excellent for hanging pots or placed on a table.
Indoor plants suitable for offices include:
- Spider plant (Chlorophytum Comosum “Vittatum”)
It is able to help fight formaldehyde and ammonia in indoor environments. It is a common houseplant and it’s easy to find in many home supply stores. It requires moderate light and it is easy to maintain.
- Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria Trifasciata/Laurentii)
This plant is very effective in removing formaldehyde from the air. Its leaves are also used in Chinese medicine to cure acne and arthritis. It also is a useful companion plant for certain houseplants, as it emits compounds that help certain plants grow. It’s also easy to care for and requires very little maintenance.
- Golden pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)
This type of vine requires bright light to grow properly, yet it is able to absorb a variety of toxins, including benzene, trichloroethylene and trichloroethane. It thrives under indirect lighting.
- Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea Seifrizii)
This plant does not require much light to grow. It is famous for the beautiful fan-shaped leaves. It is able to remove ethanol from the indoor atmosphere.
- Parlor Palm (Chamaerops Humilis)
This plant can be a wonderful addition to the home. It requires very little maintenance. When it grows to stand on its own, its fronds offer a beautiful appearance. It removes formaldehyde from the air.
- Dracaena (Dracaena Fragrans/Massangeana)
This plant is able to absorb a variety of chemicals in the indoor atmosphere, including benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. It requires enough sunlight to grow and periodic trimming to maintain its shape. It is ideal for large spaces, such as offices.
- Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum X Bella)
These plants release oxygen at night, thus refreshing the air and removing carbon dioxide and formaldehyde. Chlorophyll in their leaves absorbs the chemical compounds released by press photocopiers -a major cause of headaches in offices.
- Bamboo (Phyllostachys Niruri)
This green bamboo is wonderfully fragrant in the summer. Its green foliage has a relaxing effect due to the plant’s high content of phytoncides, an organic substance that repels insects and deodorizes the surrounding environment. This makes it ideal for offices where it is necessary to remove cigarette smoke from the air.
- Chain fern (Sphaeropteris Deferma)
This plant absorbs all types of airborne pollutants when it is placed in a room. It requires plenty of sunlight and it needs to be transplanted every year. It is also one of the most difficult plants to grow.
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum)
This plant does not require much light, and it has a strong ability to absorb formaldehyde.
In some cases we need to place natural scents in the air in order to complement and neutralize the smell of essential oils. In the case of offices, the use of scented plants is limited to scented geraniums. The pH of the leaves lowers when it comes into contact with the air, neutralizing the smell of oils. However, this type of plant requires special care. Most of all, it needs plenty of light, and it has to be supplemented with fertilizer occasionally.
When considering which plant to use in a room, we need to consider the size of the plant or the number, the amount of sunlight that the room gets, and the amount of time and energy we are willing to spend in maintaining them. Plants suitable for an office environment should be easy to maintain, do not require much sunlight, and can grow in almost any type of soil.
Plants are wonderful not only to look at and for making a space more homey, they play the crucial role of converting the carbon dioxide into oxygen for us to breathe. Then why not add a few to your living or work space? In this article, we unpacked the perfect plants to keep indoors in your home, as well as in your office.