Air Purifying House Plants


As we welcome a new year, we’re using some favorite plants to rejuvenate our homes with a sense of serenity and a breath of fresh air – literally. We’ve rounded up seven air purifying house plants that are not only a refreshing addition to winter décor, but good for your health thanks to their ability to filter common, harmful chemicals that can be found in the home. 

Aloe Vera: An indoor favorite thanks to its low-maintenance care requirements, this sun-loving member of the succulent family is not only great to have around the house for soothing cut, dry, or burned skin, it also helps rid the air of harmful chemicals such a formaldehyde and benzene that come from cleaning products and paint. If air toxicity levels rise, your trusty aloe plant will let you know by developing brown spots on its leaves.   

Heart Leaf Philodendron: Philodendrons are great at absorbing formaldehyde emitted from particleboard. Easy to grow, they can last for years with moderate watering and sunlight. Over time, they will grow elaborate, winding vines. 

Rubber Plant: Native to northeast India, rubber plants (Ficus elastica) have shiny, deep green leaves and thrive in tropical conditions or indoor containers. As they grow, the roots often begin to wrap around the trunk of the plant for a delicately detailed appearance. Excellent for eliminating carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air, rubber plants should be pruned as needed, positioned in bright sunlight with moist soil, and given a monthly dose of fertilizer. 

Orchids: Though they have a reputation as difficult to care for, most orchids need only moderate sunlight and very little water. In fact, the biggest mistake owners make is caring for their orchids too much- overwatering and exposing the plant to excessive sunlight. Available in a wide variety of shapes and hues, orchids make a refreshing housewarming or hostess gift; they filter the pollutant xylene, found in glue and paint, and respire fresh oxygen into the air at night. 

Azalea: Though commonly regarded as an outdoor plant, many are surprised to learn that azaleas can also thrive in containers. With adequate sunlight and cool temperatures (around 60-65 degrees), they will help remove the harmful toxins that can be released by plywood or foam insulation. Basements prove to be an ideal living space for azaleas- they easily liven up the space provided there is enough light. 

Ferns: Available in countless varieties, it’s easy to find a fern that suits your décor. With feathery or scaly textures, their sprawling fronds rid the surrounding air of toxins like toluene, benzene, and  xylene, commonly found in paint, nail polish, and glue. Ferns also act as natural humidifiers, releasing moisture into the air. Create a humid environment with lots of filtered sunlight to make sure your ferns thrive.

Snake Plant: Easy to maintain, snake plants, or Sansevieria trifasciata, require minimal water and sunlight. Absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen at night from its striped, stalk-like leaves, it makes a great plant for the bathroom, as it is particularly adept at filtering out formaldehyde that is commonly found in cleaning and paper products. The low light and humid conditions will also allow your snake plant to thrive. 

Visit the terrain greenhouse to find more air purifying house plants like the ones above that can be delivered right to your door.

Photography courtesy of Adrian Nier (Aloe Vera), Julia Folsom (Heart Leaf Philodendrom), Amanda Wray (Red Rubber Plant), terrain (Orchids), Whit Andrews (Azalea), terrain (Fern), WoodleyWonderWorks (Snake Plant).

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