An appropriately chosen plant or flower can easily enhance a space, as well as purify the air; but keeping these beneficial beauties alive is not always as effortless as it seems. The following is a list of plants that are ideal for the indoors, tolerant of neglect, and effective at increasing oxygen and clearing toxins from the air.
Often grown in hanging baskets, Boston fern’s delicate fronds make it well suited for any décor – however, don’t let its gentle appearance deceive you. This tough plant can survive for decades; able to grow up to 4 feet tall and wide. Of the commonly cultivated ferns, the Boston fern is the most tolerant of drought. Thriving best in 60-75° F, it should be misted when relative humidity falls below 80%. Although, when outdoors, this plant prefers partial to full shade, bright filtered light is ideal for indoor growth.
Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’
This beautiful houseplant bears multicolored leaves on an upright stem. In an ideal environment, mature specimens can grow to 49 feet or more. Valued for its tolerance of various indoor conditions – the optimum being: medium to bright light, 60-75° F, and relatively dry soil – the Dracaena has been shown to help remove indoor pollutants; such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene.
The English Ivy is one of the best air-filtering houseplant – most effective at absorbing formaldehyde. Incredibly adaptable and easy to grow, it should be kept evenly moist; and thrives in medium sunlight and moderate temperatures (55-70° F). Labeled as an invasive species in a number of regions, it can climb over 50 feet; and is often seen in gardens, house walls, tree trunks, and wild areas across its native habitat. For indoor use, a pot of ivy grown on a mantel or shelf, allows for its stems to trail down – or the stems can also be trained onto a topiary form.
Combining well with Cacti and other succulents, this slow grower can live in normal room temperatures during the growing season, but is best kept cool – 65-75° F, 55° F in winter – moderately dry – as it is susceptible to overwatering – and in bright light – which helps produce the red shade around its leaves. The Jade Plant is also known to propagate readily from either clippings, or the stray leaves it drops.
The beautiful Peace Lily – a wonderful, low-maintenance flower – does well in shade and cooler temperatures; and can reduce the levels of a number of toxins in the air. This houseplant, with its white blooms and dark leaves, is ideal for rooms with fewer windows, favoring low humidity and light. It prefers moist soil and tolerates standard temperatures, up to about 85° F. Like others on the list, the Peace Lily purifies the air; greatly reducing contaminants, including benzene, formaldehyde, and other pollutants.
Philodendron hederaceum oxycardium
The heart-shaped Philodendron is a popular plant choice for indoor areas. Like the English Ivy, they grow decorative vines, are easy to care for, and are particularly good at absorbing formaldehyde. The climbing stems – which can reach a height of 8 feet or more – can form into a towering green, by attaching to a moss pole or bark slab. They thrive at temperatures between 59-75° F, and can survive at lower light levels than other houseplants.
Epipremnum aureum ‘Marble Queen’
This low-maintenance vine is often confused with the heart-shaped Philodendron, due to its similarly shaped leaves – and is also known to clear formaldehyde from the air. As one of the more versatile houseplants, it can be grown on a tabletop, hanging basket, or trained upright onto a pole – in low to bright light, moderately dry soil, and 60-75° F. They will survive in cool temperatures with low levels of sunlight; but, when kept in brighter light, its leaves show more variation of color.
This low-maintenance plant is a powerful air purifier. In cultivation, it may thrive in conditions ranging from medium to bright light and 60-80° F. It has a high tolerance for drought, but prefers humidity, and thrives in wet, tropical conditions. An old-fashioned classic, the Rubber Bush gets its name from the sticky, milky sap it exudes if injured – which may irritate sensitive skin. It eventually grows into a large tree, but can easily be pruned; causing it to branch into a multi-stemmed shrub. Its big, dark green, shiny leaves help this plant create a dramatic accent in any room.
Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’
This carefree succulent plant tolerates neglect extremely well. Snake plants don’t need much light or water to survive – growing in conditions ranging from low to bright light – appreciating brighter conditions – 60 to 85° F, and fairly dry soil. Unlike most plants, which absorb carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the day, the Snake Plant offers a clean-air boost at night. Overwatering the plant will lead to root rot; but it is otherwise, practically indestructible.
Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’
As one of the most common houseplants, and like most on this list, Spider Plants are decorative, easy to grow, and effective at fighting pollutants – including benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene. They thrive in a wide range of conditions; tolerating temperatures down to 35 °F; but grow best at temperatures between 65 °F and 90 °F.
Researched & Reported By: Jane Bello