I grew up with a tiny jungle in the corner of my apartment living room thanks to my mom’s love for plants. She taught me how to water them, talk to them, and how to use them for healing. I don’t recall the title of plant mom being a cool ambition back in the 80’s, but in the past few years with the world having more time at home, I am so happy to see that #plantqueen is a trending hashtag. But what’s more than the fad of bringing the outsides indoors for instagramable photo ops, is the abundance of health benefits plants serve humans. One fantastic benefit is that plants improve the air quality by exchanging our used CO2 for rich oxygen we need to breath. They also detoxify harmful gases and particles in the air, further cleansing our atmosphere.
Most of us don’t think about off-gassing from products and chemicals used to build the homes we live in. We trust construction. But paints, primers, glues, laminates, vinyls, and many other materials and their bondings can have lingering chemicals emitted which can be harmful overtime. Knowing that home is where our loved ones, babies, pets, and consumables spend most of their time, I definitely want every breath I take to be clean and clear. Nasa conducted a Clean Air Study proving that certain houseplants can remove up to 87% of harmful chemicals from the air. Below are five affordable plants you can add to your home to improve it’s air quality, and still take dope pics. *Bonus: they are hard to kill, too!
1. Boston Fern: These are recommend for the bathroom because they thrive on low filtered light and humidity, and they love moisture. Their leaves are beautiful and delicate and help remove xylene—a toxic solvent found in petroleum, rubber, paint, leather, cigarettes, and more. According to the NASA study, The Boston fern is the top houseplant for removing formaldehyde.
2. Spider Plant: Named for its skinny dangling leaves, the spider plant is a cheap champion. NASA’s study showed that spider plants removed 95% of formaldehyde from a sealed plexiglass chamber in 24 hours. Their leaves allow for easy propagation. Get one and make more for each room!
3. Snake Plant a.k.a. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue: I’m obsessed with this plant because it makes my photo backdrops look super fly and you-can-not-kill-this-plant!!! Originating in Africa, it is known for filtering out formaldehyde, which can be found in cleaning products, hair dyes and chemical treatments, and even toilet paper. The snake plant gives off oxygen at night, making it a nice one near the bedroom, or wherever you spend most of your time.
4. Bamboo Palm: Nasa has claimed that the Bamboo Palm can help filter benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. Benzene is found in plastics, rubber lubricants, synthetic fibers, tobacco smoke, and detergents. Trichloroethylene can be found in printing ink, lacquer, furniture varnishes, paints and adhesives. This is in my top five because it grows lush, but much smaller than a typical bamboo tree making it the ideal plant to beautify small spaces. They also resist insect infestation very well. Palms thrive in indirect light making it an easy choice for bathrooms and shady bedroom corners. Another nice benefit is that they humidify the air.
5. Golden Pothos: This is my absolute favorite house plant. They were in every room when I was a child. Helping my mother water and propagate them was my first foray into the natural world as a city kid. What is great about the Golden Pothos is that they eliminate carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Their vines grow very quickly, and if you put them in a spot to catch a bit of sun, they are pretty hard to kill. Their dangly vines are also easy to propagate into new Pothos babies. Set them up high on shelves or hang them from curtain rods for tropical-esque vibes.
As with all toxins, the effects we suffer are often dependent of multiple factors including length of exposure time, amount of toxins exposed to, additive effect of multiple irritants, and the way you are exposed. Some effects present as headaches, dizziness, red eyes, coughing, confusion and nose and throat irritation, to name a few. Getting plants to filter these chemicals seems like a no brainer to me. Please be mindful that some houseplants can be harmful if ingested by pets. If you have pets, do your research before bringing plants into your home. I personally found my cat eating my Golden Pothos on numerous occasions and assumed her body was craving veggies. She was always fine. My pothos, not so much.
Well there you have it, folks! These are my top five house plants to improve your air quality at home. I haven’t even discussed the benefits of plants on the human body. I’ll save that for another post. Now, go propagate some pothos!