Take a good look at your shopping lists. Among the usual groceries, the what’s – it – clean items and all your other inedible needs, take a long hard look at the air fresheners you keep buying to use around the house or your washroom or even your work-space.
What’s the purpose of an air freshener anyway? To keep the atmosphere of the place fresh and see to it that it smells good? Well, you know what? You don’t need any of those commercially produced chemicals floating around your spaces.
That’s right, folks! With this article, we’re going old school. When the air around you is already fresh and is done so naturally, you won’t need to be spending money on your holier – than – thou beach mist or whatever other preferences you purchase.
Cause this job can easily be accomplished by the good ‘ol plants that have been living on this Earth for eons. With certain plants, you can be rest assured that your atmosphere will be naturally purified without any hassle.
Tediously grow plants…? Ehh… why don’t I just break out the humidifier?
Here’s why not. This is not just about peachy smelling spaces, or about cutting back on purchasing commercial humidifiers or air purifiers or even the air fresheners.
Well, it kinda is, but we’ll come to that later. What this really is about is the kind of times we’re living in right now. Global warming, climate change: these are words that you hear on the daily these days.
Because of all the pollution that humankind is causing on Earth, the levels of toxins in the atmosphere are increasing by the day. And using commercially produced products that contribute to these calamities only betters the situation temporarily while worsening the bigger picture.
That’s why, here’s what you have to do: use plants. They are natural, they are kind, they are ever – present. There are certain plants that you can use to purify the air around you. Use these. Grow them. Nurture them. Not just for the sake of the atmosphere, but also for yourself. Wouldn’t you feel better anyway, if your surroundings are naturally pure rather than if they were altered by chemically produced products?
It is an easy and an even simpler process that wouldn’t require you to put much thought into it. Even DR. B C Wolverton himself would tell you that using plants to purify the air around you is a plausible idea.
If you’re wondering who this complex sounding individual is, Dr. Wolverton is an environmental engineer who has been working as a research scientist under NASA for more than 20 years.
He would tell you that you can literally grow fresh air, an idea that materializes in his book titled, ‘How to Grow Fresh Air – 50 Houseplants that Purify your Home or Office’.
His arguments conclude that it is possible to clean the pollutants in your home, offices or any other places using the aid of plants. Now, if a NASA research scientist himself worth over 20 years of research tells you that plants can purify air naturally, then it’s only fair that you lend both your ears and give him a listen.
Sounds like a plan. Where do I get started?
Well, let’s begin with the fact that both the indoors and the outdoors are filled with harmful toxins, both with differing toxins.
Let’s tackle the indoors first.
The indoors may be filled with benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, trichloroethylene, nitrogen oxides, radon, pesticides, biological pollutants, disinfectants.
These pollutants work up the toxicity levels leading to what is known as ‘sick building disease’ and build up sickness that may show up through headaches, fatigues, allergies and may result in chronic diseases such as cancer, disorder of the nervous system, or even death. Sounds drastic, doesn’t it? However, such pollutants can be curbed by a number of plants that will be listed below. Take your pick.
#1 – Peace Lily
Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”
Aesthetic: This dark green tropical plant is one of the few that flowers indoors. Its white lily flowers grow on tall green stalks, adjoining its green ribbed leaves. It looks well like a house ornament and makes your indoors look pretty and green.
Height: 3 ft.
Ideal temperature: 60 – 70 F
Eliminates: acetone, benzene, alcohols, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde. It conducts the functions of both humidifying and purifying the air due to its heightened transpiration.
Care: For this plant, care is easy considering the fact that it manages to survive neglect. Ideally, the plant requires indirect sunlight and a high level of humidity, but it can also thrive in lesser sunlight or partially shady areas. It is recommended that you thoroughly water these plants and leave them out on a short dry spell, resuming watering once again.
The leaves are prone to dust, so you must frequently wash them and mist them with warm temperature water to avoid pests. It is, however, toxic to both pets and humans due to the calcium oxalate present in its leaves and must be kept out of reach of children at all times.
#2 – Ficus Alii
Ficus Macleilandii “Alii”
Aesthetic: One word. Tall. Its long stem and its thin, lean leaves give it the perfect look to complete your minimalistic décor. If that’s what you’re going for, that is. The plant also comes in another variation where its leaves are scattered all along the stem. So, why don’t you let your preference take over?
Height: 10 ft. approx. (indoor)
Ideal temperature: 65 and 85 F
Eliminates: chemical vapours
Care: It must be kept in humid temperatures and can grow in semi or full light conditions. It can grow easily and can easily ward off pests. If the plant is placed near vents, or heating, or drafts, it can result in leaf loss, so make sure to keep the plant away from such apparatus. Make sure to water the plant regularly, keep the soil moist but make space for little dry spells.
Overwatering will cause yellowing of leaves. From spring through to fall, use liquid fertilizer that is diluted to fertilize the plant, either once or twice a month. The plant is sensitive to boron, so make sure to check the absence of that element. Keep away from children and pets, as it is poisonous.
#3 – Philodendron
Aesthetic: Its small, compact nature allows it to take up less space. Its long leaves and hidden stem give it a neat appearance. A bunch of these will make the indoors very admirable.
Height: 6 ft.
Ideal temperature: 60 – 70 F
Eliminates: various pollutants by detoxifying and purifying
Care: They can thrive in medium to lower light conditions. It has a special talent of being able to grow anywhere indoors, without any preference. Pinch out a few tips that are growing to make the plant look bushy.
Avoid direct sunlight, as it can harm the leaves by burning them and stunting plant growth. Avoid extreme temperatures and keep the plant regularly dusted and misted. Feed the plant using liquid fertilizer twice a month and make sure to use less water during winter. Keep the soil moist, while allowing regular dry spells.
#4 – Rubber Plant
Aesthetic: Circa Victorian Era. That’s right; it’s been well – loved since way back then. Its tall appearance makes for a smart, conservative look.
Height: 8 ft.
Ideal temperature: 60 – 80 F
Care: This plant can take partial shade and partial sunlight areas and can easily be situated in dimly lit areas. It is best to keep the plant away from direct sunlight in the summers.
The plant is prone to pests such as spider mites, thrips or other such insects in dry areas, so take measures for that. Its milky sap may cause you irritation so use gloves when you are pruning. Do not overwater the plant, because it will not cope. During the summer, keep the plant well fertilized with liquid fertilizer, water it thoroughly and leave dry spells. During winter, make sure the plant is moist.
#5 – Lady Palm
Aesthetic: Another one of your tall indoor plants. It may look a little shabby, but hey, there’s nothing some good pruning can’t avoid. Its stems heighten out into leaves that are slightly oval, but mostly elongated. If placed right, it would really bring out the décor in the room.
Height: 14 ft.
Ideal temperature: 60 – 70 F
Eliminates: various pollutants
Care: One of the easiest indoor plants to grow and maintain, but its various species require specific environments so be sure to look into that. An easily adaptable plant that requires partial sunlight to grow. Pretty resistant to the pests, but it may occasionally run into some spider mites, which can easily be dealt with some soapy water, provided, you catch them early on.
Make sure to avoid dry spaces because the frond tips will dry out and brown. Fertilize the plant once every month with liquid fertilizer to see glossy leaves on the plant. Feed the plant generously with water in the spring and summer. Feed it even more water in the winter if the plant is placed in a dry environment.
#6 – Boston Fern
Nephrolepsis Exaltata “Bostoniensis”
Aesthetic: What a cool 90’s spiky hair style this plant has going on for itself. Its leaves really just look like 2 D Christmas trees which are its feathery ferns, placed in a pot. The beauty of your place can be enhanced by placing this plant in a hanging pot or even inside a pot on a pedestal. Now, if that’s not desirable in a house…
Height: 4 ft.
Ideal temperature: 65 – 75 F (day), 50 – 65 F (night)
Care: The plant can be placed in a cooler sunlight, away from direct sunlight, and must be given frequent attention. Its soil must be maintained to be moist and its leaves must be misted frequently to avoid browning. The plant is prone to pests: use soapy water to keep away whiteflies and spider mites, and look out for aphids.
Make sure the root ball of the plant never dries out. Its increased humus rich soil will aid in meeting the plant’s requirements and allows you to stray away from watering it frequently. Feed the plant with liquid fertilizer once every week.
Rein in the fertilizer during winter. If you find the roots to be poking out of the drainage holes of the pot, move the plant to a bigger pot. This can be done in spring, which will allow the plant to joyously grow again.
#7 – Dwarf Date Palm
Aesthetic: A mini date palm all fitted into your little house pot. It may give the house a beachy look so male sure to place it in a fitted location. Notice the needles on the stem? Yea, they pierce.
Height: 8 – 10 ft.
Ideal temperatures: 60 – 75 F
Eliminates: airborne chemicals, xylene
Care: Place the plant is partial sunlight. It is a plant that is well – suited to your indoor temperatures, making it one of the desirable indoor plants to acquire. Provide the plant with adequate space to grow.
Keep the plant well away from children because they will end up hurting themselves on the sharp needles placed on the stem of the plant. These needles can pierce through the skin and cause great pain.
Make sure to keep the root ball of the ball moist, allowing it to dry out in between during winter. Frequently feed the plant with (once every month, twice every month in winter) sure to mist its leaves.
#8 – Dracaena “Janet Craig”
Aesthetic: What an organised tall plant to have in the house. Its sectional busy leaves give it a very neat appearance, with its stem in partial sight. It really would bring out the beauty of pale coloured walls in any house.
Height: 10 ft.
Ideal temperature: 60 – 70 F
Care: It is one of the easiest house plants to grow and can survive up to a decade if taken care of properly. Keep away from direct sunlight and in partial shade. They can thrive when they are fed lesser water levels.
Make sure to see to it that the plant is not overwatered and neither is it dried out. To remove dead or brown leaves, mist the leaves using warm water. The plant is sensitive to fluoride so look out for that in the water you use.
During summer and spring, fertilize the plant twice a month, but keep away from fertilizing in winter. Make sure to re – pot the plant every alternative year, in commercial soil. Keep the plant in moist conditions as they are prone to pests in dry conditions. Soapy water can be used to rid the plant of insects.
#9 – Bamboo Palm
Aesthetic: Think vintage. The right pot can bring out the sharp appearance of the plant’s leaves. Its dark coloured stems will admirably contrast pale surroundings. It adds a rather tropical vibe to the place.
Height: 4 – 12 ft.
Ideal temperature: 60 – 70 F
Eliminates: formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene
Care: Keep away from direct sunlight. Losing of new foliage in new plants is common and normal as it means that the plant is adjusting itself to its surroundings, so do not worry if that happens. Clean out dead fronds; make sure not to pinch away the tip which results in stunted or slowed growth.
Bamboo plants thrive with a little amount of sand added into their soil. The plant prefers to not be overwatered or to be placed in standing still water. Summer and spring call for generous watering, where as in winter, it is enough to make sure that the root ball doesn’t dry out. The plant is prone to spider mites, but they can be held at bay when soapy water is used.
#10 – Areca Palm
Aesthetic: Yet another sort to add to your beach collection. The house palm will add a tropical facet to your indoors and make it look laid back and calm.
Height: 10 – 12 ft.
Ideal temperature: 65 – 75 F
Eliminates: toluene, xylene
Care: This plant is one of the most effective in eliminating indoor pollutants. It gives out water vapour which is an upside to dry areas. The plant is of the preference of humid conditions in order to prevent tip damage. Make sure to choose plants with larger trunks at the base at they will be stable.
Plants with thin bases are prone to toppling over and pose a difficulty in maintenance. The potting soil of the plant is best preferred to be loam based. Feed the plant liquid fertilizer at regular intervals, and avoid doing so in winter. Make sure to keep the root ball from drying out. Regularly misting the plant will help in keeping away pests and will leave the plant looking freshly green.
Phew! That was one good list, wasn’t it? Wait till you see the outdoor selection. To reiterate, using plants to purify your indoors is a good, if not great, idea. Pick any one plant off of our list and you’re good to go. You see, these plants will not only purify the air in your houses, or your workspace, or your various indoor locations, but they will also beautify you place. So, while performing their primary function of purification, they also perform their secondary function of making your spaces look attractive and desirable.
That was the indoors, however. Now let’s move on to discussing the prospective purifiers for your outdoors.
Whether it’s your lawn or your backyard or nay other outdoor space that you want coursing with rich, purified air, there is a list of a few selected plants that will help with this.
Like the indoors, the outdoors too is full of toxic pollutants that are even more in number as compared to the indoors. Not only pollutants, but heat and pollution also play a role in jeopardising outdoor atmosphere.
From the list of indoor plants, Areca Palm, Boston fern, Peace Lily are plants that you can plant in your outdoors also to achieve the function of purification. They can thrive in direct sunlight and will effectively get the job done even outdoors. The following list of plants will give you the purification that you need to make your outdoors clean.
#11 – Aloe Barbadensis
Aesthetic: This plant is one of the common outdoor plants that you can easily plant in your garden. Outside of the job of purification, it also comes in handy for various other medicinal and household uses, so hey, it couldn’t hurt to have this multi – purpose plant. It long fruit stems make for a good variation of garden plants and its thorns don’t pose much danger.
Height: 2 – 3 ft.
Ideal temperature: 50 – 60 F
Eliminates: formaldehyde, benzene
Care: Locate the plant in a spot that is bright and has indirect sunlight. Keep the plant away from direct sunlight as that will lead to the dring out of the plant and yellowing. Keep the inner flesh of the aloe leaves away from pets and children as digestion may lead to harmful consequences.
#12 – Snake Plant
Sansevieria Trifasciata “Laurentii”
Aesthetic: One look at the plant and you’ll know why it’s called ‘snake plant’. Its tall, flat leaves come patterned as that of a snake’s body. Highly pleasing in millenial aesthetic contexts.
Height: 2.5 ft.
Ideal temperature: 60 – 80 F (day), 55 – 70 F (night)
Eliminates: 107 various pollutants including formaldehyde, xylene, nitrogen monoxide, chloroform, carbon monoxide, and trichloroethylene
Care: The plant must be kept in places away from direct sunlight. Make sure not to overwater the plant and while watering, do not wet the leaves of the plant and water the soil alone. Allow drying between watering. Fertilize the plant with any all – purpose plant food of your choice during its growing season. This plant emits high amounts of oxygen at night, so your bedroom, at night, can be a location to place this too.
#13 – Chrysanthemums
Aesthetic: It’s a flowering plant. Absolutely desirable to have in your outdoors especially if you are a lover of these flowers. They come in a variety of colours and will leave your garden looking, well… like a garden!
Height: 1 – 3 ft.
Ideal temperature: 68 – 82 F (day), 59 – 68 F (night)
Eliminates: benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, trichloroethylene
Care: Unlike many other plants, this plant requires loads of direct sunlight to grow, at least 5 hours of it. Water the plants once every week.
Make sure to look out for mildew or fungus in the plants and keep pests away using soap spray. Once blooming season begins, look out for dead flowers. Immediately cut them off as they extend blooming and prevent seed formation by wilting.
#14 – Schefflera / Umbrella Tree
Aesthetic: The placement of the leaves on the plant gives it the look of an umbrella, hence, the name. Its oval leaves look glossy and almost waxed.
Height: 10 ft.
Ideal temperature: 65 – 90 F
Eliminates: benzene, toluene
Care: Watering this plant with the right amount of water is immensely important. Plant them in places that are bright and receive indirect sunlight.
Pruning the plant is required so as to increase its bushiness and help in growth. There’s no right way to prune it, just do it. Fertilizing the plant is not compulsory but if you want to, you can use water soluble solution fertilizer once in a year. The plant however, is toxic and must be kept away from children and pets.
#15 – Gerbera Daisies / African Daisies
Aesthetic: Yet another flowering plant to add to the list. The bright, vibrant flowers come in a variety of colours and will immensely beautify your outdoors.
Height: 1 – 1.5 ft.
Ideal temperature: 50 – 60 F
Eliminates: benzene, carbon monoxide
Care: If you live in the North of America then it is best to plant the flowers in full sunlight. If you’re from the South, then plant in the flowers in a semi – shaded area.
The flowers prefer outdoors, so it will be easy to care for their growth. The plant can tolerate dry soil but it requires well – drained soil to optimally grow. Soil that is rich in compost is ideal for this plant. Feeding the plant extra fertilizer is recommended as blooms annually.
However, you must know that the plant is expensive and so are the variants for its growth but hey, you can’t put a price on pure air now can you?
#16 – Cooktown Orchid
Aesthetic: And yet, another flowering plant to add to the list. They are a lovely breed of orchids that are easy to grow and maintain. They will beautify your garden and duly purify your air.
Height: 2 ft.
Ideal temperature: 75 – 85 F (day), 60 – 65 F (night)
Care: It’s a plant to easily take care of that will brightly bloom in the spring. It will thrive under bright direct sunlight. Locating them in the shade will result in the plant not growing upright. Water the plant regularly, but when the flower spikes begin emerging, be sure to rein in the amount of water. Fertilize with high nitrogen during active growth season.
#17 – Spider Plant
Aesthetic: Now this plant, you can easily find in any outdoor growth. It’s a very common outdoor plant that many aren’t even aware of its purifying properties.
Its beauty can be appropriately shown off by placing the plant in a hanging pot so as to show off the plant’s luscious long leaves.
Height: 1 ft. approx.
Ideal temperature: 70 and 90 F
Eliminates: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and other pollutants
Care: These plants do not require much care and attention to grow. They are plants that can easily adapt themselves to any environment and will grow accordingly. Bright light and indirect sunlight is recommended for placement.
Regularly mist the leaves in order to avoid pests such as aphids and spider mites. Provide the plant with adequate water regularly and make sure the plant is located in well – drained soil. Water the plant well but make sure to keep the soil only moist enough or else, too much water will lead to root rot.
#18 – Golden Pothos
Aesthetic: Its leaves are so shiny that they appear almost golden under the sun. It’s beautiful to look at and easy to grow. Because they’re creepers, you can also grow them alongside a wall so that it gives the wall a beautified look.
Height: 8 ft. (it is a creeper. So its stems grow long.)
Ideal temperature: 60 – 85 F
Care: It is an easy plant to maintain and doesn’t require special conditions of light. It is necessary to water the plant frequently and you want to make sure to not soak the soil in water but to gently water around the base of the plant.
Fertilizing the plant once every month using a balanced fertilizer will work well for the plant as it is a stable one. However, make sure to keep the plant away from children and pets as it is toxic upon consumption.
#19 – Ficus Tree / Weeping Fig
Aesthetic: This plant though tall, has a compact and neat look. Given the right pot, it can beautify your outdoor spaces very well.
Height: 10 ft.
Ideal temperature: 75 – 85 F (day), 65 – 70 F (night)
Eliminates: formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene
Care: It is one of the plants that requires very little maintenance to grow. It must be placed in an area with semi – sunlight and a bright ambience. Make sure that the soil of the plant is well – drained for best results.
Water the plant only when the top inches of the soil are dry. During the plant’s active season, fertilize it twice a month. Avoid dry heat, sudden changes in temperature and cold drafts so as to not deteriorate the plant.
And that makes up our list of plants to plant outdoors to have your outside atmosphere fresh and clean. Here’s one thing you need to know: every plant mentioned in this article can be planted both indoors and outdoors.
Yes, that would require different care depending upon the location, but ultimately, it depends upon where you want the plant to be. So don’t shy away from selecting as many plants as you want to have around you.
But what do I look for in the plants that I choose?
Here’s what, start simple. Especially, if you aren’t a gardener or you tend to be away from home for longer periods or if don’t have the knack for taking good care of plants, it is okay. Read up on the kind of plants that you can use.
Then look for plants that don’t require much care and attention to grow so that even if you forget to care of them or you just can’t seem to take the time, they will still survive and grow on what meagre means they’re allowed.
Safety must be a huge part of any of your decisions. Some plants grow to tall heights and given a few circumstances this may prove to be dangerous inside the house.
Many of these plants carry toxins so if you have children or pets around in the house then you must look up plants that specifically are safer to have around the household. You can refer to the list of non – toxic and toxic plants given by ASPCA and will be helpful for your needs.
If you are looking to eradicate specific toxins and pollutants, then it is better to read up on which plants are more effective with which toxins. In this way you can have specific plants around you house that are tailored to your specific needs.
Air pollution, especially in this day and age, is no small matter. With Earth’s atmospheres deteriorating at the rate that they are, it is our duty to do all that is in our power to save it from reaching a breaking point. Numerous researches conducted by NASA conclude the fact that we need plants to save us, and for this, we need to save plants.
Look at the upside: the plants that you choose to pot will do the purification for you and on top of that you have managed to beautify your house admirably and have also gained a small time hobby of taking care of these plants. If you ask us, there really are no downsides to this.
So we highly recommend that you jump aboard the green train not just for the sake of the Earth but also for the safety and purity of your household atmosphere. And remember, it’s not just homes that can be secured in this way. Even your places of work can use some of these plants that will be immensely helpful. See you on the greener side, folks!