26 Plants That Clean The Air

by David Wright | Last updated

Plants that clean the air

For many years nobody considered the impact of plants as an indoor-purifier. Yes, the environment friendly role of plants is known since ages, but nobody imagined the extent to which plants can purify the air inside your living space. That was before NASA stepped in to assist the Associated Contractors of America (ALCA) in a quest to conclude a list of the most effective plants that clean the air indoors by removing toxic-agents.

Dr B. C. Wolverton led the team of the researchers. The study concluded that the Florist’s Mum is the most effective among all. The research was based on the ability of the plant to filter out formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia, toluene, trichloroethylene, and benzene.

Here is the full list of the most efficient plants that clean air:

The List of 26 Air Purifying Plants

1. Broadleaf Lady Palm – Rhapis excelsa

Rhapis Excelsa (Broadleaf Lady Palm)

Image source: starrenvironmental.com

They are easy-growing, but you need to make sure that the temperature doesn’t go above 21oC. Also, don’t keep them under direct sunlight.

The speed of the growth is slow but consistent. If you see spider mites around the leaves of this plant, make sure to wipe them out with the help of soapy water.

They purify air from formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene, and carbon dioxide.

These plants are not toxic to dogs or cats.

2. Bamboo Palm – Chamaedorea seifrizii

Chamaedorea seifrizii (Bamboo Palm)

Image source: biolib.de

The plant is also known as Reed Palm, and you have to keep it at a temperature not more than 24oC. Make sure to add a little sand to the soil. Don’t make a mistake of overwatering these plants. Yes, the ground should remain wet all the time, but the water should not linger for a long time.

Bamboo Palm purifies air from formaldehyde. It also eliminates benzene as well as trichloroethylene.

3. Dwarf Date Palm – Phoenix roebelenii

Phoenix Roebelenii (Dwarf Date Palm)

Image Source: さかおり

Make sure to place these plants in semi-sunlight. They grow well in temperature ranging from 16oC to 24oC. Like most of the palms, Dwarf Date also grows slowly but consistently and can reach a height of 10 feet. Their leaf-end is sharp so make sure not to place it in kid’s playing area.

These plants purify the air from xylene.

4. Boston Fern – Nephrolepis exaltata

Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston Fern)

Image Source: Mokkie

These plants like barely moist soil, and make sure to wipe off spider mites and whitefly as these insects love being around Boston Fern. The plant gains a maximum height of 4 feet, but they can spread up to as much as five feet. The suitable temperature range for these plants is from 18oC to 24oC.

The plant purifies the air from formaldehyde.

5. Peace Lily – Spathiphyllum

Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)

Also known as “Mauna Loa”, the Peace Lily is a powerful air purifier. It demands some care, and if there is a high level of humidity and indirect sunlight, the plant grows well. Don’t forget to mist the leaves on a regularly. From 16oC to 24oC is the suitable temperature range for these plants.

Peace Lily is toxic to pets as well as humans. Their leaves feature calcium oxalate.

Peace Lily purifies the air from acetone, alcohols, benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde.

6. Spider Plant – Chlorophytum comosum

Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)

Image Source: Mokkie

People often tend to eradicate Spider Plants (occasionally called Airplane Plants). They quickly regrow, and the good news is that you don’t need to remove these plants. Just cut off a couple of its spiders and place them in the pot.

Spider Plants purify the air from benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and xylene.

They don’t feature toxic elements, so your family and pets are completely safe around Spider Plants.

7. Gerbera Daisy – Gerbera jamesonii

Gerbera jamesonii (Gerbera Daisy)

Also called Barberton Daisy, Gerbera features bright flowers. You need to make sure that there are drainage holes in the pot. Mist its leaves for at least twice a week. Also, don’t forget to feed them with direct sunlight for about 6-hrs a day.

Gerberas purify the air from benzene and trichloroethylene.

8. Variegated Snake Plant – Sansevieria trifasciata “Laurentii”

Sansevieria trifasciata "Laurentii" (Variegated Snake Plant)

Image Source: Mokkie

These plants also have an interesting name – Mother-in-Law’s Tongue. You can place them in the bedroom at night, because against the thumb-rule these plants absorb CO2 and release O2 during night hours.

Snake Plants purify the air from formaldehyde.

9. Florist’s Mum – Chrysanthemum morifolium

Chrysantheium morifolium (Florist’s Chrysanthemum)

Image Source: Jebulon

Also called Mum, these plants feature colourful flowers contributing to the aesthetic beauty of the office or the room where you place them. Their convincing beauty encourages people to bring these plants inside to match the interior. These plants feature almost any colors.

Chrysantheium morifolium purify the air from benzene.

10. Red-Edged Dracaena – Dracaena marginata

Dracaena marginata (Red-Edged Dracaena)

Image source: starrenvironmental.com

These plants feature striking colours and are famous for their purple-red edges. The growth of these plants is consistent but slow. They can grow up to 15 feet.

Red-Edged Dracaena purifies the air from xylene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

11. Weeping Fig – Ficus benjamina

Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig)

Image Source: Dinesh Valke

This plant grows well in the presence of indirect yet bright light. But if the temperature rises significantly, or if the light fluctuates – this plant won’t grow well.

Weeping Fig is known for purifying the air from formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene.

12. English Ivy – Hedera helix

Hedera helix (English Ivy)

People love this plant, but the problem is that the English Ivy tends to damage vegetation around it. That’s why it is better to place it in pots instead of orchards. It needs moist soil, but make sure to feed it with at least 4 hours of direct sunlight every day.

English Ivy purifies the air from formaldehyde and faecal-matter particles.

13. Chinese Evergreen – Aglaonema modestum

Aglaonema modestum (Chinese Evergreen)

Image Source: Marissa Anderson

This plant doesn’t require much care. It requires minimum light and grows well even in places that are not recommended for other plants. These tropical plants like humidity and if the atmosphere is too dry, the tips of the leaves may turn brown.

The Chinese Evergreen purifies the air from formaldehyde and benzene.

Chinese Evergreen plants carry toxic elements that are dangerous for dogs.

14. Areca Palm – Chrysalidocarpus lutescens

Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (Areca Palm)

Image source: starrenvironmental.com

Otherwise known as Butterfly Palm – this delicate plant grows fast and attains a height of 12 feet. Make sure that you select the plant with the thicker trunk. If the stem is as thin as a pencil, then there are chances of toppling over, and it will make it difficult to keep them erect.

Areca Palm purifies the air from xylene and toluene. Toluene is basically the combination of dibutyl phthalate and formaldehyde.

15. Rubber Plant – Ficus robusta

Ficus robusta (Rubber Plant)

Image Source: Mokkie

These plants grow well in semi-shade semi-light conditions. Don’t put them under direct sunlight, especially when the weather is hot.

These plants can reach a height of 8 feet. Often, rubber plants require stake support. Be careful when handling these plants.

Don’t forget to wear gloves before trimming these plants as the milky-sap causes irritation on the skin.

Rubber Plant purifies the air from formaldehyde.

16. Janet Graig – Dracaena deremensis

Dracaena deremensis (Janet Graig)

Image source: David Stang (first published at ZipcodeZoo.com)

They prefer semi-shade and indirect sunlight. These plants don’t like soggy soil. Besides, make sure that the root ball doesn’t completely dry out. During warmer season, Janet Graig requires consistent mist.

Janet Graig cleans the air by filtering trichloroethylene.

17. Philodendron – Philodendron sp.

Philodendron sp. (Philodendron)

Image Source: Alex Popovkin

These plants grow well in the presence of medium light, but even low light doesn’t hurt them. They are a well-known indoor plants for their adaptability to grow in almost all indoor conditions. They can reach up to 6 feet above their base.

Philodendron plant filters xylene from the air along with other pollutants.

18. Ficus Alii – Ficus maclellandii “Alii”

Ficus maclellandii "Alii" (Ficus Alii)

Image Source: Luca Bove

Don’t place these plants near air conditioning vents as their leaves shed after coming in contact with heat. Make sure to keep the soil moist enough, but don’t let the water stand for a long time. Yellow colouring of its leaves is suggestive of overwatering.

Keep them away from kids and pets as these plants contain poisonous elements.

These plants purify the air from chemical vapours.

19. Aloe – Aloe vera

Aloe Vera

Aloe is arguably the most easy-growing plant. It likes sunlight, and this is what makes this plant one of the favourite green-companion of humans for over 6000 years. During the early days, the Egyptians called it is The Plant of Immortality. Other than its benefits for skin and human health, these plants are natural purifiers.

Aloe vera purifies the air from benzene and formaldehyde.

20. Golden Pothos – Scindapsus aureus

Scindapsus aureus (Golden Pothos)

Golden Pothos like indirect yet bright light. Make sure not to provide them with excessive water.

These plants filter formaldehyde from the air.

Golden Pothos is poisonous, so keep it away from pets and kids.

21. Pineapple Plant – Ananas comosus

Ananas comosus (Pineapple Plant)

Pineapple plants have a tremendous ability to lift the oxygen level at night times. This quality makes these plants perfect for all those looking to enhance the quality of air indoors.

Pineapple plants aren’t known for the filtration of toxins, but if you want to get rid of snoring, then these plants can serve the purpose. The good thing is that pineapple plants don’t require much water. The only thing you need to be careful about is that frost is not good for these plants, so they don’t flourish in a cold environment.

22. Flamingo Lily – Anthurium andraeanum

These evergreen plants feature highly attractive flowers significantly contributing to the aesthetic appeal of an office or a living room. Greek mythology was inspired by these plants, and they symbolised love. Even today, people love gifting Flamingo Lily to their friends and family members to express their care and affection.

Flamingo Lily features large leaves with dark colouring. These leaves effectively filter the air by absorbing formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia.

23. Lilyturf – Liriope spicata

Liriope spicata (Lilyturf)

Image source: starrenvironmental.com

They are mostly featured as border grass and make perfect edging for your outdoor space, but Lilyturfs are also exceptionally good for indoor gardening. Interior plant-scapers use Lilyturf on a consistent basis. The plant can reach a height of 12” to 18”, and during summer it has lavender and white flowers.

These are semi-shade, semi-sun plants. If the air is too dry, pests invade the plant, so you need to provide it with some humidity. Make sure to water it consistently so that the soil remains moist.

Apart from removing ammonia from the air, this plant also filters xylene, formaldehyde, and toluene to let you breathe the fresh air.

24. Kimberly Queen Fern – Nephrolepis obliterata

Nephrolepis obliterata (Kimberly Queen Fern)

Image source: David Stang (first published at ZipcodeZoo.com)

Though the Boston Fern is more popular comparing to the Kimberly Queen Fern, don’t underestimate the potential of these plants as an air purifier. They lose their leaves less often than the Boston. And they bloom well even if the humidity level is low.

You need to ensure regular misting and watering to help these plants grow. They like wet ground, but never let the water stay as it’s not good for these plants.

Kimberly Queen Fern purifies the air from alcohols, formaldehyde, and xylene.

25. Devil’s Ivy – Epipremnum aureum

Epipremnum aureum (Devil’s Ivy)

This is another good option for natural air purification, but you need to be careful as these plants are toxic to pets (it contains raphides). Also, they contain calcium oxalate that is mildly toxic to humans.

Being famous for its marble-leaves, this plant is easy-going and requires less care. You need to water these plants only when the soil is dry. Keep them away from direct sunlight. Devil’s Ivy grows well under indirect light.

Epipremnum aureum filter the air from formaldehyde, benzene and xylene.

26. Cornstalk Dracaena – Dracaena fragrans “Massangeana”

Dracaena fragrans "Massangeana" (Cornstalk Dracaena)

Image Source: Lazaregagnidze

Another Dracaena plant becomes the part of this list because of its exceptional ability to purify the air. Cornstalk is an easy-going plant and even doesn’t mind occasional watering missing. Its long leaves manage to clean a lot of air around. These plants can grow from 10 feet to 12 feet tall.

Do not let the pets consume its leaves because it is toxic to cats as well as dogs.

Cornstalk Dracaena filters formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene from the air.


Let’s now have a look at the toxic elements in the air and symptoms they may cause.

Toxic Elements in the Air and Their Symptoms

ElementSymptoms
Benzene• Irritation to eyes
• Dizziness
• Drowsiness
• Increased heart rate
• Confusion
• Unconsciousness (upon consistent exposure)
Trichloroethylene• Dizziness
• Nausea
• Excitement
• Headache
• Coma
• Vomiting
• Drowsiness
Formaldehyde• Nose irritation
• Throat irritation
• Mouth irritation
• Swelling of lungs
• Swelling of larynx
Ammonia• Coughing
• Eye irritation
• Sore throat
Xylene• Throat irritation
• Mouth irritation
• Dizziness
• Confusion
• Liver damage
• Kidney damage
• Cardiac issues
• Coma
• Confusion
• Headache

A Few Tips on Choosing Air-Cleaning Plants

Stay Safe

You should take extra care during the selection. Due to the fact that some of these plants carry toxic substances, it makes it vital to first ensure the safety of your kids, all family members and pets.

Select Suitable Plants

You need to evaluate the structure of your house, because some of these plants spread across and elevate beyond the standard height of ceilings. But, that isn’t an issue if you live in an area where the climate is perfect for the plant and you have sufficient outdoor space to accommodate them as they grow more prominent enough to occupy much more indoor space.

Consult with Experts

If you aren’t sure about some indoor plants and their efficiency, then it is better to consult with experts. It would be perfect if they’re able to visit your house to evaluate the surroundings, lighting conditions, and available space.

Wrapping up

Nature has always been generous and helped us to solve even the man-made problems. Plants are impressive when it comes to the purification of the environment. We live in harsh climates, and the density of the pollutants has been increasing since we first introduced our lives to carbon, lead and other toxic substances. Industrialisation keeps disturbing the natural balance, and that is what makes it extremely important to restore the natural balance as much as we can.

There is nothing more appropriate than having air cleaning plants in our rooms and offices. They allow us to breathe fresh air at least when you are in your house.

Stay safe, breathe fresh, and purify your life by making maximum use of the gifts from nature!

Sources

6 replies
  1. Mike Wright
    Mike Wright says:

    You got a truly beautiful list, I have Aloe, some pothos and some spidy but the one that astonished me is the Florist’s Chrysanthemum (I need to get them) Thanks for sharing Yah :)

    Reply
    • David Wright
      David Wright says:

      Hey Jessica!

      Thanks for stopping by ;)

      Sure, it would be awesome if you use my article as a reference!

      Have a great week!

      Reply
  2. Joy Gardner
    Joy Gardner says:

    Hi David – Nice work! Thanks for making NASA’s research available to us all! My eyes have been hurting me, especially at night. I doubt if there’s benzene in my room, but I’m going to bring my big aloe vera plant into my bedroom, just to try it. I love the one about using pineapple for snoring! But I never heard of growing it inside.

    Reply
    • David Wright
      David Wright says:

      Hi Joy,

      Thank you for your kind words and for stopping by ;)

      As for pineapples – yes, it may seem surprising, but it’s really possible to grow them indoors. There are a lot of articles how to do it properly, just Google it if you’re interested :)

      Wish you a wonderful day!

      Reply

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