Air Cleaning Plants

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Few people take into consideration the benefits of air cleaning plants and opt for expensive humidifiers and air purifiers. Filter replacements, maintenance, and electricity to operate these machines can be expensive. Cleaning these machines is time consuming. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, all plant life is known to provide the air needed to breathe and keep it clean. Why not take advantage of this natural indoor air purifier and humidifier?

Children in schools, families in their homes, and employees in an office building can all benefit from air purifying plants. If you spend a lot of time indoors, chemicals are constantly inhaled and many people don’t fully realize it. Those who suffer from chemical sensitivity can unknowingly be exposed to multiple chemicals that can cause a variety of ailments. This is especially true for contractors and their employees who handle insulation and building materials on a daily basis. Because of this, NASA partnered with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America to find out exactly how effective some common houseplants are in purifying the air indoors.

The results of this two-year research project show that keeping plants indoors is just as beneficial, if not more so, than buying expensive air purifiers and humidifiers. Indoor air cleaning plants are fairly inexpensive and are easily found at local nurseries and plant retailers. Many of these plants require very little maintenance and very little attention.

Just a few of the plants known to effectively filter pollutants from the air when kept indoors are:

Peace Lilly (Spathiphyllum) – This is an amazing houseplant because it doesn’t require a lot of sunlight and lets you know when it needs water. If the plants start to drop, water them and it will resume immediately. Keep it a few feet from a window, but if the leaves start to turn yellow, move it to an area with less sunlight. These plants have pretty white flowers and will multiply in the pot they’re in, so you can thin them out and replant some of the new shoots to have multiple plants at no cost to you.

Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria laurentii) – Also known as the snake plant, this plant is great at reducing airborne toxins, but its leaves are toxic if ingested. This plant also requires little lighting and very little water and is excellent at removing toxins from the air.

Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) – This is another plant that can tolerate infrequent waterings and lower lighting conditions. It is recommended that if the plant is in front of a window, it be turned frequently so that the sunlight is distributed evenly. This plant also shows signs of over or under watering. Yellow or pale leaves mean too much water, brown leaves mean not enough water.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) – In a hanging basket, these plants send out beautiful flower buds that make the plant look like a spider. They require low to moderate sunlight, infrequent watering, and also reproduce easily at little or no cost.

Some houseplants will attract pests like spider mites if not properly cared for, and some are toxic when ingested. Be sure to consider lighting and watering requirements when shopping to avoid pests, and do your research on toxic plants if you have animals or young children. Lastly, sit back and breathe easy!

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About the Author: Peter Beaumont

Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on Daily Mid Time Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: