The Best Plants to Purify Air

The United States Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air pollution one of the top threats to public health. Indoor air pollution sources, poorly designed, maintained or operated ventilation systems are some of the major reasons for poor indoor quality. Fortunately, a study conducted by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) indicates that there are certain indoor plants that can help purify air naturally. These plants thrive in low-light conditions, making them ideal for home and offices.

Peace Lily

Peace lily (Spathiphyllum clevelandii) is a shade-loving plant that is ideal for purifying air. Preferring optimum temperatures of 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, this plant will also tolerate a temperature of 60 degrees. Peace lilies can grow in any well-drained soil, preferably with a mixture of equal parts of leaf mold or peat moss, bark and sand. Humidity is essential to ensure maximum flower production, which is achievable by placing the pot on a saucer of wet pebbles. Garnering NASA's purifying score of 7.5, peace lilies can remove acetone, ammonia, benzene, ethyl acetate, formaldehyde, methyl alcohol, trichloroethylene and xylene from polluted indoor air.


The Dracaena family consists of approximately 40 or so assorted tropical plants that have characteristic elegant thin foliage. 'Dracaena Janet Craig' and Dracaena deremensis are two examples of dracaenas that you can use for air purification. They are some of the most popular indoor plants used in homes, offices, malls, apartments and landscapes because of their low to medium light requirement. These plants do well when kept on the dry side. Do not allow these plants to sit in water, to prevent root rot. Avoid keeping dracaenas above 75 degrees F and below 65 degree F, which can stunt the plant growth. Aside from being decorative, dracaenas can also scrub the air of pollutants, which include formaldehyde, toluene and xylene. Dracaenas placed fifth on NASA's ranking with a purifying score of 7.8.

Areca Palm

Areca palm or Chrysalidocarpus lutescens (Areca lutescens), also known as, yellow palm, butterfly palm, yellow butterfly palm, cane palm and golden feather palm have clustered, slender and, sometimes, branching stems. They may reach up to 30 feet tall. Areca palms are popular as specimen plants for indoor use because they can tolerate relatively low light conditions. Areca palm can tolerate low soil moisture; however, avoid drought conditions for best growth. It is hardier than most foliage plants and tolerates short durations of 32 degrees F. For best growth, keep the roots at 70 to 80 degrees F and air up to 95 degrees F. Areca palm is an air purifying plant ranked first by NASA, garnering a purifying score of 8.5. According to, areca palm is "the most efficient air humidifier," which can keep homes and offices moist during dry times. Furthermore, areca palm can continuously remove chemical toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide from the air.

Keywords: indoor air quality, indoor air pollutants, NASA purifying score, air-purifying indoor plants, air humidifying plants

About this Author

Josie Borlongan is a full-time IT Manager and a writer. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines. Borlongan writes for eHow, Garden Guides,, and She is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and a Cisco Certified Network Associate.