Houseplants for Air Purification and Healthy Living

One of the best ways to reduce stress levels, release tension, and breathe purified air is to live amongst nature.  It is sometimes difficult to find time to spend outdoors in the park, so luckily we can bring nature to our homes in the form of houseplants.

Among many other benefits, houseplants can help purify the air in our homes by converting the CO2 we breathe out into oxygen. Aside from just the benefit of releasing oxygen, some houseplants actually aid in the removal of harmful airborne toxins that can be inhaled in our home environment. Some of the harmful toxins that can be inhaled from the air are formaldehyde, toluene, benzene, ammonia, and xylene and trichloroethylene from the air.  These toxins may come from paints, plastics, furniture, rugs, synthetic fibers, cleaning solutions, detergents, plywood, synthetic fragrances, varnishes, etc.

Below you can find a list of some of the best houseplants, their benefits, and how to take care of them. A study done by NASA suggests that you should have one 6-inch plant for every 100 square feet of space.

Toxins and their Sources

Benzene – glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents

Formaldehyde – plywood, particleboard, pressed wood products

Trichloroethylene – disinfectants, dyes, rug cleaners, paint removers, spot removers, adhesives

Ammonia – animal waste, fertilizers, cleaning products

Xylene – synthetic fragrances, paints

Peace Lily

The Peace Lily is a large green leafed plant, and blooms a beautiful and simple white flower. Is capable of absorbing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, ammonia, and other toxins. It is a low maintenance flower, and is a common houseplant.

Peace lily’s do well in shade and lower temperatures. Find a spot for your peace lily that is not in direct sunlight. Water it weekly so that the soil is always moist however be careful not to over water it, there should never be standing water. Mist the leaves several times a week and make sure they are dust free for optimal air purification. Monitor your plant and make sure to trim any unhealthy leaves.

English Ivy

English Ivy is one of the most effective plants for absorbing formaldehyde.  It is also recommended for removing allergens like mold. English Ivy is well adapted to living indoors and is grows well in low-light. You can grow it as a hanging or floor plant.

English Ivy should be placed in bright indirect light or in a place with low light. Allow the first two inches of soil, but not more, to dry between watering. Trim any unhealthy leaves and long stems with no leaves.

Weeping Fig

The weeping fig is a beautiful small tree that can be tricky to take care of. However it helps eliminate toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.

The weeping fig should be potted in a large pot and placed in filtered sunlight. Once you place it you should not move it except for occasionally turning it so a new side faces the sunlight. The tree should be kept evenly moist and not soggy. The weeping fig also has a tendency to drop its leaves, but this is often because the plant goes into shock after being moved or transplanted.

Dracaena

The Dracaena is best for removing xylene, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde, which can be released from lacquers and varnishes.  The dracaena comes in a variety of sizes and colors, a popular choice being the red edged dracaena.

There is a dracaena for every lighting situation so feel free to pick the type that suits you best. Keep the soil damp, and never let the water saucer be filled. This plant can grow to be the height of the ceiling, so make sure you place it in a room with ample space.

Bamboo Palm

The Bamboo palm is effective at eliminating formaldehyde, xylene, carbon monoxide, and toluene. Along with purifying air, it releases moisture, which is beneficial for the winter months.

Place your palm in bright, filtered sunlight and keep the soil moist. Make sure there is air circulation where the plant is places. Occasionally mist the leaves to avoid spider mites.

Philodendron

This plant has beautiful heart shaped leaves and is easy to care for. They are particularly good at removing formaldehyde from the air. These plants can live for many years when properly cared for.

The philodendron grows best in moderate sunlight. The soil should be kept moist, not over watered, and be allowed to dry out between waterings. They will be dried during the winter months. Yellow leaves are signs of overwatering and brown leaves are signs of underwatering.

Aloe

Our beloved summertime sunburn friend does more than just heal cuts and burns. Aloe can purify the air from pollutants like benzene and formaldehyde, which are often byproducts of chemical cleaners.

Aloe plants should be planted in full direct sunlight. The soil should be moderately moist. Although the aloe plant is adapted to survive a drought, water should still be provided weekly. If there are many harmful chemicals in the air, the aloe leaves may develop brown spots, in which case you might want to get some more house plants.

Golden Pothos

The cascading vines of the golden pathos help remove formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and carbon monoxide from the air.

The golden pothos is easy to care for and a very resilient plant. It can grow in any lighting condition except direct sunlight. You should water it when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Trim the vines when the plant becomes too big.

Chinese Evergreen

This tropical plant is efficient in removing formaldehyde and benzene from the air.

These plants grow well in dark areas of filtered sunlight. They should be planted in well draining soil and should be kept moist to mimic the humidity of the tropical rainforest. Water moderately and allow the soil to almost dry between waterings.

Rubber Tree

Rubber trees are easy to grow and help eliminate formaldehyde ad carbon monoxide. The leaves are a beautiful dark and shiny green and some varieties can have purple undertones.

They can be grown in bright filtered light. They should be watered moderately and pruned as necessary. To optimize air purification, wipe the leaves as needed.

Please note that some of these plants have pet warnings…

Peace Lily – Toxic to cats and dogs

English Ivy – Toxic to cats

Weeping Fig – Toxic to cats and dogs

Dracaena – Toxic to cats and dogs

Bamboo Palm – non-toxic

Philodendron – Toxic to cats

Aloe – toxic to cats and dogs

Golden Pothos – Toxic to cats and dogs

Chinese Evergreen – Toxic to cats

Rubber Tree – Toxic to cats

Further research is also recommended.

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a versatile oil extracted from the meat of mature coconuts that can be used for cooking, body care, and maintaining overall health. Coconut oil has three fatty acids, caprylic, capric, and lauric acid that have antifungal properties and are often recommended for anti-candida diets.

Coconut oil has a variety of health benefits including:

  • Increases good HDL cholesterol
  • Leads to efficient burning of energy due to the break down of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides)
  • Antioxidant properties

Coconut oil can be eaten by itself or used in a variety of dishes. If taking coconut on a daily basis, two tablespoons are recommended. Coconut oil is naturally saturated which allows it to have a greater heat capacity than most other oils. It is an excellent choice for cooking, however no oil should be used with a high flame.  It has a mild coconut flavor that is delicious with most dishes. Coconut oil can also be applied to the skin as a moisturizer or the hair as a hair mask.

One great way to incorporate coconut oil into your diet is to add it to smoothies. Here is one great recipe to get started:

Banana Coconut Smoothie:

1 cup kale

1 Banana

1/3 cup Goji Berries

2 tablespoons Chia Seeds

2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil

Add water or coconut water until almost all the ingredients are submerged and blend!