Plants are Nature's natural air purifiers, taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. It may be surprising to find that indoor air quality may be worse than outdoor air in homes and buildings, especially those containing no plants. Adding plants to living or working space greatly improves air quality, and there are some houseplants that have been tested and found to work powerfully in this area.
English Ivy (Hedera helix) is an effective air cleanser, being called "fix for allergies" by WebMD. They rid air of chemicals like benzine and formaldehyde, among others. Tested by NASA, it was found to be one of the top indoor air-purifying plants. The plant's dark green to blue green leaves can measure up to 4 inches long, and its slim twigs have aerial roots that allow them to attach to trees, rocks, walls and anything else in their path. As an invasive vine, it must be trimmed regularly to keep it in control. In the house, it serves as a mighty air purifier. Plant it in a small pot and graduate to a larger hanging basket as it grows. Part to full shade and well-drained soil will ensure steady growth and health.
Baby Rubber Plant
The baby rubber plant, Peperomia obtusifolia, releases high oxygen content into the air, removing pollution. Regarded as one of the top air-cleansing indoor plants, it fights chemicals such as formaldehyde, ammonia and benzene, and also acts as a natural humidifier. It has thick, waxy dark green leaves that grow from strong stems, growing up to 1 foot high and 1 foot wide. Native to America's tropical regions, it requires an indoor temperature of 85 degrees F in the daytime and 60 to 65 degrees at night, though it tolerates slightly higher and cooler temperatures. Partial to full shade is best, as exposure to full sunlight will scorch the delicate leaves. A soil with equal parts of loam, peat moss and sand is preferred, but a well-drained potting soil will do fine. Excessive watering and granular fertilizers will cause rot. Water once every 10 to 14 days, or as the soil gets dry, and apply a diluted houseplant fertilizer for sufficient nutrition.
The Areca palm, Dypsis lutescens, is a beautiful plant that also helps to purify the air. Originating in Madagascar and found in tropical regions around the world, it adds a tropical touch to its surroundings, with slender bamboolike trunks and feathery palm fronds. Arecas can grow to be 30 feet tall and can spread up to 10 feet wide outdoors, but grown as a houseplant it comes in much smaller sizes, and can be trimmed as desired. It is a fast-growing, low-maintenance plant, requiring part shade. Well-drained soil is best, but it tolerates claylike, loamy or sandy soils as well. It likes plenty of water, but overwatering will lead to rotting of the trunk. Moist soil and occasional misting spray will keep the plant feeling, looking and working at its best.