Inside Scoop: These 13 air-filtering plants will not only keep your home green, but will also help purify all the indoor pollution.
This post was submitted by Ricardo Elisiário, agricultural engineer and frenetic freelance writer for hire.
Even those of us who for long have had indoor plants, sometimes we tend to keep them in our enclosed porch or by the kitchen window, yet our bedroom doesn’t always feel like a favourable spot. Why?
Maybe because you’ve been told that plants suck all the oxygen, moisten the room too much or breed little bugs that might walk around while you sleep. But if you let go of all those fake facts, what we know instead is that plants offer many health benefits, physically and psychologically.
We know that the air inside our personal spaces can get polluted — especially in urban areas — with volatile chemicals (like Ammonia, Benzene, Formaldehyde, Trichloroethylene or Xylene), household products, and many heavy particles that stress our lungs, eyes and mind.
Luckily, a few select air-filtering plants are gifted with the ability to degrade these harmful elements by either converting them via their own process of respiration or assimilating these gases in their leaves and other organs. It’s a free win-win deal we have signed with these leafy buddies.
So, let’s meet and learn how to keep some easy indoor plants that’ll purify the air inside our home, sparing not only our head from migraines and brain fog but actually keeping away those harmful agents.
13 Easy Air-Filtering Plants
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum Mauna Loa)
The white inflorescences (called spadices) against the dark green foliage really contribute to this plant’s peaceful look, making it an ornamental that’s both classy and modern looking. It will match every room in your home.
This lily is perfect to grow indoors as long as you keep it out of direct sunlight — even exposure to very intense light can be damaging to the leaves. Their ideal environment has to be someplace humid and shady, so keep spraying the plant. Sprinkle the soil often if the room is hot during the warmest seasons and, in Winters, make sure that the temperature doesn’t drop much below 13 ºC.
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
Its big speary leaves are well adapted to darker places. This species, in particular, is the most indicated for a bedroom that sees little light all day. It is, however, a needy plant in the sense that you must be careful about air currents in Winter and dusty environments, while also keeping it constantly under the blanket of warm humid air.
Similarly, distinct varieties will present more variegation in their leaves and roughly the same benefits regarding the purification of our house’s atmosphere, so feel free to try them all out.
Flamingo Lily (Anthurium andraeanum)
This ornamental is commonly used in floral art because of the evident beauty of its leaves and the oddly shaped inflorescences that look a lot like hearts, and are just as red and veiny, in some cases.
Since it’s a plant borrowed from the tropics, it’ll be happiest if you choose to spray it very often and warm up the water before you sprinkle the soil during Autumn and Winter. Care to spare this passionate houseplant from unwanted burns and never expose it to direct sunlight, despite how bright an environment it actually likes.
Lilyturf (Liriope spicata)
Darker than the common thin lawns, this one is meant to live more on the homey side, sheltered from full sun. It’s also a sucker for soil that’s moist and an ambience not at all too dry, even though it can endure it fairly easily.
Being a type of grassy houseplant, it lives well in clumps. The white or purple flowers it presents give it a liveliness that contrasts with the dense mass of leaves underneath them that make this species a fantastic ground cover plant.
Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracena marginata)
With a thin and often ramified trunk, its leaves never really stop popping up and unfolding downwards around the apex, giving it a look similar to a feather duster. The edges on them are slightly hot-coloured, a crimson tone almost bloody, though this plant isn’t brute enough to slice anyone’s hand.
From all the dracaenas, this one is maybe the easiest to maintain healthy at home, as it’s also true for the Dracena draco and the Cordyline australis. All these can withstand colder temperatures than the peace lily, also preferring a shadowy spot over sunny windows, plus high air humidity. Keep plucking out the lower leaves as they dry and shrivel from old age.
Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
This plant has the looks of a plastic one, for so shiny it can be. More or less variegated, it’s also a climber or a crawler, depending on how you decide to guide it through life.
Lover of bright light, it’ll prefer if you keep it in well-drained soil or its leaves may sadly fall off. The temperature of your room should be warmish to see it grow vigorously, and you do not need to worry about humidity so much, as it feels comfortable with normal moisture levels.
Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
Seeing that the leaf stems grow out of the ground like reeds, naming it “bamboo” seems fitting. Like every ornamental palm, it’s not too cheap of a plant but once you make the investment, it’s sure to last long years.
Easy to grow and somewhat resistant to direct sun, you should keep it in a pot filled with loamy light soil and far from ever being soggy. Besides these basic guidelines, you may wash the leaves every now and then to maintain their sleekness, also reminding yourself to always shelter it from cold zephyrs or it might get sick.
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Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii)
To be called “mother in law’s tongue” or “snake plant”, one can only assume how hardy this houseplant must be. Tough but nonetheless beautiful, it can tolerate sun and shade, dry air as well as exposure to harsh outdoor conditions and lack of water.
Although it seldom needs to be transplanted, you’re free to do it once the plant has overgrown its pot and is looking so thick and vigorous that you fear being impaled in your sleep, if you ever sleepwalk inside the bedroom.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Fetuses like the Boston fern are safe bets for every gardener, regardless of one’s level of skill. Keep it fresh, moist, very bright and you should reap good results.
This particular fern exhibits erect leaves with smooth edges, unlike the hanging majority we are familiarised with. Should you feel that one plant isn’t quite enough, know that there are many fern varieties that could go well with this one, if planted in the same pot, to give a nice twist of diversity in shapes and hues of green.
Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
Another wonderful air-filtering plant is the Dwarf Date Palm. The difference between this dwarf palm and the bamboo palm is that the former has narrower leaflets that make up whole leaves which are softer-looking and droopier.
Looking at its trunk, you’ll see brown colour like a coconut shell, typical in a palm tree. Truth is this plant takes indeed a long time to grow, but once it does you’ll probably be asked to take it outside, for it can reach 2 meters in height. As young trees though, you can even keep several in the same pot to give it a more convoluted look, and whether you have one or three of them, it’s really no issue because they aren’t demanding at all.
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
This wild vine is sometimes a little too wild to deal well with being stuck indoors. However, as long as you offer it the freshness it desires, abundant light, and moisture over its foliage if the room is artificially heated, it should prosper.
In case you want to have fun with this species, go out and clip random tips from random ivies on the road. You’ll be amazed by how many shapes and colours they come in. Then put the clippings in a jar of water and watch them root. Transplant each to a tiny pot and keep them under check, lest they try to ruin your wallpaper or plaster.
Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
If you’re aiming to have a tiny tree inside your bedroom, take a look at this smooth plant with arched branches lined with many pointy leaves that often show some nice variegation — for more obvious spotting, you must expose it to brighter light, as that is a general rule.
Being a tree, it can withstand certain periods of premeditated dryness though it also benefits from sporadic sprays of water throughout Summer.
Florist’s Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Let’s close off with a flowery species, after so many leafy ones in a row. Studies say this plant is very proficient in purifying the air in our houses, besides being extremely gorgeous and loving a good sunbath in the morning and late afternoon.
If you happen to find a lost, healthy and grown herbaceous specimen of these that’s almost about to blossom, adopt it immediately, it’ll pay off. At home, you need only water it thoroughly and spray the leaves with some loving droplets of moisture once every week. Give it a fresh room to live in too, where it can keep its crispness and vigorous growth and budding.
I guess I needn’t say any more. Open space in your cosy bedroom for 13 new acquisitions, will you? It’s a steep challenge but we can try, and besides, it’s you who’ll harvest all the benefits, because these plants are clearly going to blow your toxins away. Do you have any of these air-filtering plants in your home?
Ricardo Elisiário is a frenetic freelance writer for hire. He should probably act more like the agricultural engineer he is, yet you’ll find him creating copy and content for websites, print… and his own amusement, as he’s up to becoming the new Dickens someday. To find out more about this Lisbon-born wifey-lover, visit his website or say hello @rmelisiario.