Houseplants are typically introduced into a home for aesthetic purposes, but in many cases, certain plants act as natural air purifiers. Several toxic gases, including formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and volatile organic gases, can often be found throughout a home. Particularly in smaller, enclosed areas, living indoor plants cleanse the air and eliminate these noxious fumes simply by absorbing them. For optimal air quality, place at least two plants for each 100 square feet of living area.
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis), which is indigenous to Africa, helps to cleanse the air of formaldehyde. Aloe vera is a hardy plant that requires minimal care. As in an indoor potted plant, aloe vera thrives in a full sun location with bright, indirect sunlight throughout the day. Aloe vera should not be placed in direct sunlight because the leaves can be burned. Aloe vera stores water in its root system and should only be watered once the soil is completely dry. When watering, particularly in the summer or during hot weather, the soil should be soaked and then allowed to dry thoroughly, according to TheBackyardGardener.com. If the plant is receiving either too much or too little water, its leaves will begin to turn a brownish yellow color. Aloe vera is often referred to as the medicine plant due to the many medicinal purposes of the gel found inside the leaves, including relief from burns, insect bites and poison ivy. If desired, you can move your aloe vera plant outside during the warmer months, but it is extremely sensitive to frost, so place it indoors once the weather cools.
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) is particularly effective in cleansing the air of benzene. Although chrysanthemums are a popular outdoor plant choice, they also grow quite well indoors. Chrystanthemum produces flowers in a wide array of colors, including yellow, orange, white, purple and red. When planted in a pot, chrysanthemum typically live for several weeks. Chrysanthemums grow best in bright, indirect sunlight and consistently moist, well-drained soil. Avoid direct sunlight, and although the soil should always be damp, do not allow chrysanthemum to sit in water for an extended period of time. Ideal nighttime temperature is between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and during the day, chrysanthemum does well in temperatures between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the University of Missouri. Chrysanthemum blooms in direct response to light. Before the closed buds begin to display their color, the plant should not receive any light at all during the night. During this time, even a small amount of light can impair the plant's blooming cycle. Nighttime light is no longer a concern once the buds begin to open.
The peace lily (Spathiphyllum) is native to South and Central American rainforests. It is also of one of the most efficient air cleansing plants, with the ability to remove carbon monoxide, benzine and formaldehyde from the air. Peace lily is one of the most common indoor plants because it grows well with very little care and thrives with minimal light. Although blooming will be more prolific in brighter areas, the peace lily actually grows quite well in dimly lit indoor areas, according to Spaths.com. Do not place peace lilies in direct sunlight because their leaves can burn. If the plant's leaves begin to curl and turn brown, this indicates that it is receiving too much light. Peace lily has glossy, dark green leaves and in the spring blooms large white flowers. Keep the soil moist and well-drained, and never let the plant sit in saturated soil or standing water. If the lighting conditions are very poor and the weather is cooler, the plant will require less water. Peace lily prefers humid climates, so frequent misting during warmer weather is advisable. The plant's leaves will turn brown and wilt if the soil is allowed to dry out completely.