What Plants are Good for Air?

If you're concerned about keeping your indoor living space as healthy as possible, consider freshening the air with green plants that are healthier and more effective than the most expensive commercial air fresheners. According to scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), certain indoor plants can remove up to 87 percent of common indoor pollutants such as trichloroethylene, formaldehyde and benzene in only 24 hours.

English Ivy

English ivy (Hedera helix) is a low-care, fast-growing plant that will help to clean the air while adding a lush, green atmosphere to your indoor environment. Plant indoor ivy in a hanging container so the trailing vines can cascade, or train the vines to climb up a trellis in a tabletop pot. Place English ivy in indirect bright or moderate light. Water the plant deeply about once every week, then allow the soil to dry before watering again.

Mother-in-Law's Tongue

Mother-in-law's tongue, (Sansevieria trifasciata) is impossible to miss, distinctive with dark green, upright foliage. Mother-in-law's tongue has excellent air-cleaning qualities, but is also a handy plant for beginning gardeners, because the plant is nearly impossible to kill. While the plant enjoys moderate to bright, indirect sunlight, it will also grow in low light, although the colors won't be as vivid. Mother-in-law's tongue is a drought-tolerant member of the succulent family. Water the plant deeply every week to 10 days, then allow the soil to drain completely before watering again. Always allow the soil to drain completely before replacing the pot on the drainage saucer, as the plant will rot if its roots are kept in damp soil.

Peace Lily

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum) is a powerhouse when it comes to cleaning the air, and is a tough, nearly indestructible plant, ideal for forgetful or busy gardeners. Although peace lily will tolerate low light, it is happiest in moderate to bright, indirect light. Water the plant every two to three days and keep the soil slightly moist at all times, as the plant grows along ponds and other damp areas in its natural environment.

Golden Pothos

With its attractive, heart-shaped leaves, golden pothos (Epipiremnum aureum), is a favorite among indoor gardeners. A fast-growing plant, golden pothos is well-suited to a hanging container or can be planted in a pot where the trailing stems can wind around a sphagnum moss plant post. Golden pothos can be placed in low to moderate sunlight away from sunny windows. Water the plant about once a week, then allow the top of the soil to dry slightly before watering again.

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) is an outstanding indoor plant with large, dark-green oval-shaped green leaves variegated with creamy white markings. Place Chinese evergreen in low to moderate light and avoid hot, sunny windows. Water the plant approximately once weekly, but don't allow the soil to become soggy. Chinese evergreen is slightly tender and shouldn't be exposed to temperatures below 50 degrees F.

Keywords: air-purifying plants, plants clean air, plants improve air

About this Author

M.H. Dyer is a long-time writer, editor and proofreader. She has been a contributor to the East-Oregonian Newspaper and See Jane Run magazine, and is author of a memoir, “The Tumbleweed Chronicles, a Sideways Look at Life." She holds an Master of Fine Arts from National University, San Diego.