Types of Houseplants
That Clean Indoor Air
Much of the research on these beneficial houseplants has been done by NASA scientists researching ways to create suitable space station habitats. All indoors plants (flowering or not) are able to purify indoor air to some degree through their normal photosynthesis processes. But some were found to be more beneficial than others in removing harmful household toxins, even removing 90% of chemicals in the air in only twenty-four hours!
The three main household toxins of concern are:
This means these types of houseplants may just decrease your risk of cancers, asthma, allergies, auto-immune disorders and other diseases.
Tips for Choosing and Caring for Your PlantsBelow you'll find the common name and botanical name of each plant, its benefit to you and your home and a few ideas of the type of care it needs.
Along with a corresponding photo and the following tips, you can decide which plant is best for your home.
- Choose one 10- to 12-inch potted plant per 100 square foot of your home for the most effective air purification.
- Cross-reference several care guides to check for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
- Because common names can very, be sure to cross-reference the botanical name of any plant you get to ensure it will do the job you need it to do.
- Consider where you might place your plants and the amount of sun they will receive to ensure your plant will thrive in that area.
- Make note of the water needed and write it on a calendar so that you can keep the watering schedules balanced.
- Periodically dust the leaves of each plant with a damp cloth to ensure proper absorption of air particles and toxins.
- Keep their soil replenished with rich compost or compost tea. Avoid non-organic or synthetic fertilizers.
- Whenever possible, capture rainwater for your plants. All types of houseplants thrive best with natural sources of water.
Nineteen Houseplants That Clean Indoor AirThe following list of beneficial types of houseplants should get you started in finding the right plants for your home.
Common Name: Aloe Vera
Botanical Name: Aloe barbadensis
Notes: Needs well-drained soil with slight drying between waterings, full sun is best with protection from high heats. Although largely known for its healing properties, it is considered to be an irritant to some.
Common Name: Areca Palm
Botanical Name: Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
Notes: Moderately drought tolerant and prefers partial sun and well-drained soil.
Common Name: Baby Rubber Plant
Botanical Name: Peperomia obtusifolia or Ficus robusta
Notes: Likes filtered light, infrequent watering and rich soil. I've found conflicting information as to whether or not this plant contains any poisonous parts.
Common Name: Bamboo Palm or Reed Palm
Botanical Name: Chamaedorea seifrizii
Notes: Likes bright, indirect light and prefers to remain moist but not too much and doesn't like sitting in water.
Common Name: Boston Fern
Botanical Name: Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis
Notes: Likes bright light and damp soil but can be tolerant of drought or partial light.
Common Name: Chinese Evergreen
Botanical Name: Aglaonema sp.
Notes: Does well with full shade and good draining; variegated plants need more sunlight. The sap of this plant is considered poisonous and is an irritant.
Common Name: Corn Cane or Mass Cane
Botanical Name: Dracaena massangeana or dracaena fragrans Massangeana
Notes: Does great with low light and low water.
Common Name: Dwarf/Pygmy Date Palm
Botanical Name: Phoenix roebelenii
Notes: Loves lots of sun, moist soil and warm water.
Common Name: English Ivy
Botanical Name: Hedera helix
Notes: Can be invasive, making it great for a potted plant.
Common Name: Ficus alii
Botanical Name: Ficus maeleilandii alii
Notes: These types of houseplants love indirect sunlight; be careful not to overwater. Those with allergies to latex may react to this plant!
Common Name: Gerbera Daisy
Botanical Name: Gerbera sp. or Gerbera jamesonii
Notes: Likes bright light
Common Name: Golden Pothos
Botanical Name: Epipremnum aureum syn. Scindapsus aureus
Notes: Needs less water in colder temps and partial sun.
Common Name: Janet Craig
Botanical Name: Draecana deremensis
Notes: Prefers indirect sunlight, and watering without fertilizers.
Common Name: Kimberly Queen Fern
Botanical Name: Nephrolepis obliterata
Notes: Prefers bright but indirect sunlight, with dry soil between waterings (but not dry for too long).
Common Name: Lady Palm (plus 10+ varieties)
Botanical Name: Rhapis Excelsa
Notes: Prefers partial sun all day and shade in the winter, with more frequent water in hotter months, but never allow to sit in water or be overwatered.
Common Name: Marginata or Dragon tree
Botanical Name: Dracaena marginata
Notes: It requires little attention, tolerates dry soil and irregular watering and prefers no direct sunlight. It is, however, susceptible to fluoride toxicity (so fluoridated water sources may need to be avoided).
Common Name: Moth Orchid
Botanical Name: Phalaenopsis
Notes: Thrives in high humidity, lots of light (but not hot, mid-day sun) and thorough waterings with, unlike many types of houseplants, almost complete drying out between.
Common Name: Mums
Botanical Name: Chrysanthemum sp. or Chrysanthemum morifolium
Notes: Likes partial sun, and lots of water. Although they're among the houseplants that clean the air, they only flower once and are generally annual plants, especially when planted outdoors.
Common Name: Peace Lily
Botanical Name: Spathiphyllum sp.
Notes: Easy to care for, it prefers lots of water, less often and bright, indirect light.
Common Name: Philodendron
Botanical Name: P. cordatum, P.scandens or P. selloum
Notes: Philodendrons are considered poisonous, so keep out of the reach of children and pets.
Common Name: Snake Plant
Botanical Name: Sansevieria trifasciata
Notes: It tolerates low light levels and irregular watering (and needs only a few waterings throughout winter).
Common Name: Schefflera, or Umbrella Tree
Botanical Name: Brassaia actinophylla
Notes: Can be toxic to pets and children. Prfers bright but indirect sun and lots of water and humidity.
Common Name: Spider Plant
Botanical Name: Chlorophytum comosum
Notes: Likes bright, indirect light and lots of water while growing.
Common Name: Warneckii or Dracanaena warneckei
Botanical Name: Dracaena deremeusis or Dracanea deremensis warneckei
Notes: Moderate sun and water needs, but, like most types of houseplants, dislikes sitting in water. Avoid fluoridated water sources.
Common Name: Weeping Fig or Ficus Tree
Botanical Name: Ficus benjamina
Notes: Prefers bright light and sun, but is also shade-tolerant. Moderate water needs for these types of houseplants.
Reader QuestionsI live in an apartment on the 2nd floor. The people below me smoke. It comes through the air vents (I think) in the bedroom and bedroom bathroom. The bathroom gets absolutely no light. The bedroom has a large window facing southeast but also gets late afternoon sun. What kind of plants might survive in the dark shower/toilet area? What plants for very indirect lighting in the sink and dressing area? What plants for the bedroom? (For the moment I have open baking soda containers in each area.) Thank you so very much. - Susan S.
Hi Susan! I'm so sorry to hear about this. What a yucky situation. All plants need at least some light, but from my own personal experience the plant that has been the best for us has been Philodendron (a pic of which can be found above). We've had it in some really low light situations and it still lived (although didn't thrive until it gone a little more light). What you might find necessary though is to take your plants and outdoors for a few hours or place it in a full sun window, doing either 1-2x a week.
If that doesn't work it may well be worth it in this scenario to invest in an air purifier (or even a grow light for hydroponic plants that you can use a coupe hours a day, perhaps on a timer). I'd also highly recommend looking into local laws as I do believe that the apartment management may be liable by law to better seal the vents or air exchange between apartments for this reason. I hope this helps! Good luck!
Looking for more ways to purify the air?
Purify essential oil is made up of six high-quality essential oils that have been shown to remove odors from the air, and disinfectant and remove harmful airborne micro-organisms. It includes lemon (antiseptic and antiviral), lime (antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic), pine (antimicrobial, antiseptic and anti-infectious), citronella (antiseptic, deodorizing, sanitizing and purifying), melaleuca (antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, antiseptic and antiviral) and cilantro (uplifting and refreshing).
This oil blend can be easily diffused or added to a pan of hot water to make airborne. You can also add it to cleaning products, washing machines, or create a room spray with distilled water.
To learn more about Purify Essential Oil click here.