In the late 1980s NASA sent some house plants on a trip to space. This was not only to spruce up the space station, but also to test the air purifying properties of these plants. Beyond just changing CO2 into oxygen, their research found several plants that filter out common volatile organic compounds from the air. Other research has further confirmed the results. To be more specific, certain plants have been proven to filter out benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene and ammonia.
So, what are some of the best plants to break down bad compounds in the air? Here are some of the plants NASA found to be efficient in doing that: Areca Palm, Lady Palm, Bamboo Palm, Rubber Plant, Dracaena Janet Craig, English Ivy, Dwarf Date Palm, Ficus Alii, Boston Fern and the Peace Lily, all of which are suitable for growing indoors. The full study can be viewed here: http://maison-orion.com/media/1837156-NASA-Indoor-Plants.pdf
NASA researchers suggest that the air can be efficiently cleaned with at least one plant per 100 square feet of space.
So, if you want cleaner air in your home, these plants are scientifically proven to help. However, easy that may sound, plants do require care and planning. Denis Flanagan, an award winning landscaper based in Toronto, shared some tips to keeping houseplants looking good, and working hard to purify your air.
Group them together
For aesthetic reasons, many people tend to spread their plants throughout the house. One fern here, one flower there, but Denis finds plants more effective and healthier in groups.
“It’s better to pick two or three spots in your home and have a mini bio-atmosphere because they are better together,” he says. Living walls, for example, are great ways to do this.
Let there be light
These plants all need sun to survive. Since these plants come from tropical or sub-tropical areas, they tend to be able to operate with less sunlight than others, making them great house plants. They do, however, still need some sunlight.
Denis recommends three to four hours of good sunlight and artificial lighting if that isn’t possible.
Clean plants are happy plants
There are little breathing holes located on the undersurfaces of plants. These holes can get clogged by dust and make your plant less effective in terms of air purification and also it can cause them to get sick. You should regularly clean plants, which is a simple matter of spraying them with mist and wiping them clean. Think about the natural environment of your plants and try to recreate it as best you can, most of these are tropical so misting them is a great way to do that.
“This is another way to get a little friendlier with your plants too,” says Denis. He even suggested taking a shower with your plants to get even more intimate with them.
Say no to bugs
To keep your plants as healthy as possible, you should try to avoid bringing bugs, like spider mites, into your home. They usually enter the home when someone brings a random plant from a garden, or even flowers from a florist inside. Make sure you inspect these plants and clean them off.
Also, spider mites hate water, so misting your plants and keeping them watered helps ward them off.
By Alyssa McMurtry