5 Toxin-Busting Plants You'll Want Around This Spring
As a professional garden expert and lover of all houseplants, I can vouch for the fact that these little green accents are more than just great décor; they have been scientifically proven to clean your air.
By now, most of us know that clean air is essential for a healthy lifestyle. Polluted air—indoors or out—can drastically affect your quality of life. The Environmental Protection Agency has found indoor air can be filled with more pollutants than outdoor air, which can ultimately lead to symptoms of "sick building syndrome": tiredness, fogginess, and lack of concentration. The more time you spend indoors with poor air quality, the more likely you are to experience these symptoms. Polluted indoor air can also cause headaches, dizziness, coughing, or wheezing, especially if you already suffer from allergies, asthma, or other respiratory difficulties to begin with. And sadly, a lot of the time, the products we use to try to clear the air contain harmful chemicals of their own.
It’s well-known that plants breathe by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. But in this process, they take in other gases and compounds, too—including potentially harmful volatile organic compounds. Adding at least one medium-size houseplant per 100 square feet effectively combats VOCs, according to research from NASA. And growing two to four houseplants for every 100 square feet can remove up to 87 percent of air toxins in just 24 hours.
5 houseplants I love for clearing the air come spring.
Note that properly caring for your houseplants helps them in their mission to purify the air! The more light they get, for example, the faster they grow and the better they clean the air.
The start of spring is the perfect time to invest in a few new air-clearing plants: They'll grow faster as the days get longer, and they'll refresh homes and offices that feel stagnant after winter's hibernation. Here are five of my favorites right now:
1. Peace lily
Its broad green leaves and charming white calla-like flowers make peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) a décor favorite. Plus, the plant tops NASA’s list for removing the most common VOCs. Switch it up by choosing the Domino peace lily for its shiny dark-green leaves variegated with white.
Peace lily thrives in high- or medium-light environments but tolerates low light (although in low light, it's often shy to bloom). It needs to be watered regularly, when the top inch or so of the potting mix dries to the touch. The plant is known for wilting dramatically when it dries out, but have no fear—it recovers quickly once water is added!
2. Chinese evergreen
The prominent striped leaves and occasional flowers of Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema) make it one of the most attractive air-scrubbing plants available. Plus, it can be neglected for long periods and still be happy.
Chinese evergreen can be placed in low-light spots, but the plants perform better in medium and bright spots (though it’s best shielded from direct afternoon sun). This plant is adaptable to irregular watering schedules as long as it doesn’t stay too wet. Overwatering is one of the quickest ways to kill pretty much any plant.
Classic philodendron varieties are easy to care for and grow just about anywhere. Many love to climb and look fantastic when grown on a trellis or trailing from a hanging basket. Try green heartleaf philodendron or variegated Brasil philodendron for a more whimsical shape this season.
These plants grow best in medium or bright-light spots but tolerate low light exceedingly well. Water philodendrons enough when the soil surface dries. Like Chinese evergreen, they'll rot if they're kept too wet.
As they grow, different types of dracaenas show off treelike woody stems. In time, these stately plants can grow 5 to 6 feet tall. They're great at adding a bold splash of texture to offices and bedrooms. Limelight dracaena is an especially good choice if you're looking to brighten up any room.
Dracaenas grow well in regular household conditions and will thrive in spots that receive medium and bright light. Water dracaenas when the soil surface gets dry, about once a week or so.
5. ZZ Plant
Perfect for beginners, ZZ plants excel in nearly any spot, from dark corners to sunny kitchen windows. This plant is practically made of steel and can withstand low-light environments and infrequent waterings.
Don't think you have a green thumb? These tips will change that.