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28 October 2014 by Gavin Walsh

The  NASA Clean Air Study provided the first ever list of air-filtering plants, capable of eliminating significant amounts of the toxic agents from our homes.

The indoor pollutants that affect health are formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds (benzene and trichloroethylene or TCE), airborne biological pollutants, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, pesticides and disinfectants (phenols), and radon.

These pollutants, contributing to ‘sick building syndrome’, cause symptoms including allergies, headaches and fatigue.

Sounds scary? These dangerous substances can have really detrimental impact on our health and they are present in most products all around us.


Where do these toxins come from? 

  • Trichloroethylene (TCE) is largely employed in the metal degreasing and dry cleaning industries, printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes, and adhesives.
  • Benzene is the most common solvent in many items: gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics, and rubber, but it also enters into the composition of detergents, explosives, pharmaceuticals, foams and dyes. 
  • Formaldehyde is even more common than benzene, and also more toxic. It appears in paper treated with UF resins, even grocery bags, waxed papers, facial tissues and paper towels. 

Luckily there is a simple way to fight the indoor pollution: start an indoor garden! Even a lack of space is not an excuse as vertical gardens become more popular and easy to implement. Before getting started, remember that not all plants were created equal: here are the 10 most effective air filtration plants for your home.


Peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')


The peace lily is one of the most effective plants for removing toxins from the air. It can remove formaldehyde from carpeting and furniture, TCE from cleaning products and also benzene, ammonia, xylene and toluene. It cleans best at one plant per 10 m3. It prefers shade and needs little sunlight to thrive. It needs to be watered approximately once a week. The soil is best left moist but be careful not to overwater it. 


Florist's chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)

A perennial plant from the Asteraceae family, the florist's chrysanthemum it's a popular indoor houseplant because of its capability to remove up to 50% of the benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia and other chemicals from the air.


English ivy (Hedera helix

A rampant, clinging evergreen vine, it is a familiar sight in gardens, waste spaces, on external walls, tree trunks and in wilderness. I works perfectly indoors, too, removing easily toxins coming from petroleum products (benzene) and cleaners (formaldehyde) and reducing 60% of airborne mold and 58% of airborne feces after being placed in a room for only 6 hours!


Variegated snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii')


If you’re looking for an easy to care for plant which also helps you with filtering the air in your home, this would be the one to choose. Mother-in-law's tongue is well known for passively absorbing toxins such as nitrogen oxides, TCE, benzene, xylene, toluene and formaldehyde.


Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)


The red-edged dracaena is one of the best plants to remove formaldehyde from carpeting and furniture. Although it might be difficult to find in local stores, the search is worthwhile - this plant also filters TCE, benzene, xylene and toluene and is also capable of biodegrading toxic chemicals thanks to the bacteria where the dracaena grows.


Broadleaf lady palm (Rhapis excelsa)

This palm species adapts well to most interiors, thanks to its low light and humidity requirements, making it a common feature in offices and apartments. Formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene and toluene are filtered by this this plant, also suppressing bacteria, spores and molds.


Cornstalk Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana') 

Benzene, formaldehyde and TCE are 3 of the toxic agents that this species can filter. It is primarily popular as a houseplant, valued for its tolerance of a wide range of indoor conditions from full sun to low light conditions.


Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

Gerbera Daisy is one of the most effective plants in removing benzene from plastics and TCE from adhesives. Its tall, colorful flowers also make this species a compelling choice, decorating your space.


Lilyturf (Liriope spicata)

Also known as monkey grass, Liriope spicata filters formaldehyde, ammonia, xylene and toluene from the air. It can be easily reproduced by dividing the root mass and rhizomes and requires minimal maintenance.


Devil's ivy, Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

An evergreen vine, capable of filterting 67% of formaldehyde and benzene from a sealed room in 24 hours, devil's ivy is often used in decorative displays in shopping centers, offices, and other public locations largely because it requires little care and grows rapidly.


As you can see, most of these species are easy to grow, decorative and will completely transform the quality of air in your home, helping you and those around you to live a cleaner, more natural and healthier life. You can use our easy self-watering planters or vertical gardening kits to grow these plants in your home today. 



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