The plants in your home or office not only look great but may also be clearing the air of environmental toxins. The plants in your home or office not only look great but may also be clearing the air of environmental toxins and helping prevent itchy eyes, drowsiness, headaches and lethargy, all common symptoms of an ailment known as sick building syndrome. We've included a list of common houseplants* that clear the air of carbon dioxide as well as some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in many homes.
Air Purifying Plants for Indoors
Common Household VOCs
Some synthetic building materials produce pollutants that get trapped in unventilated buildings. These harmful gases, or VOCs, can come from such sources as furniture, carpeting, building materials, cleaning agents, paints and solvents, as well as office equipment such as printers and photocopiers.
Studies Prove the Cleansing Power of Plants
In the late 1980s, a study done by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) revealed that common houseplants such as bamboo palms and spider plants help purify the air. In fact, at least a dozen common tropical indoor plants have been found to provide an attractive low-cost solution to reducing certain VOCs found in almost all indoor environments.
Why Tropicals Work Best
Tropical plants usually grow beneath dense canopies and must survive where there's little light. These plants are very efficient at using less light to process the gases needed for photosynthesis, the process by which plants use the sun's energy to make the sugars they need to grow. During photosynthesis, the plants take in carbon dioxide through pores in their leaves. Using the average amount of light found in households, they have greater potential to absorb other gases, including potentially harmful ones. So, in addition to absorbing carbon dioxide and adding oxygen and moisture to the air, houseplants can dramatically reduce the amounts of pollutants, including the chemical benzene and trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.
The Plants to Pick
- English ivy, gerbera daisies, pot mums, peace lilies, bamboo palms and mother-in-law's tongue lower benzene levels, a common solvent found in oils and paints.
- Peace lilies, gerbera daisies and bamboo palms reduce levels of trichloroethylene, a chemical used in paints, adhesives, inks and varnishes.
- Bamboo palm, mother-in-law's tongue, Dracaena 'Warneckei', Dracaena 'Marginata', peace lilies, golden pothos and green spider plants filter formaldehyde exposure, a chemical used in building materials such as particle board and foam insulations, as well as in many cleaning products.
How Many Plants Does It Take?
For an average home of less than 2,000 square feet, the study recommends using a variety of at least 15 of these common houseplants to help clear the air of environmental toxins. For best results, the plants should be grown in 6-inch containers or larger. You'll find a variety of plants, potting soils, colourful containers and hanging baskets to suit every room in your house, all in-store.
* Check The Home Depot in your area for availability as selection may vary.
Tips for Indoor Plant Care
Here's how to look after your houseplants so they'll help you to breathe a little easier.
- Water houseplants thoroughly with lukewarm water and allow the excess to drain. Wait to water again until the soil has dried out. Most houseplants benefit from daily misting.
- Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Potting Mix, available in-store, contains all-natural ingredients, including sphagnum peat moss and composted bark, which are great for tropicals and edibles.
- Keep nutrients replenished with Miracle-Gro Watering Can Singles All Purpose Water Soluable Plant Food, the quick no-mess, one-step way to water and nourish houseplants.
- Use containers with good drainage and repot every 2-3 years. Find different sizes, styles and colours at The Home Depot.