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When it comes to air cleaning indoor plants, Chrysanthemums are the most effective plant. Chrysanthemums can eliminate common VOCs such as formaldehyde, xylene and benzene. It can also absorb ammonia which is present in many household cleaners and floor sealers. Unusually it’s the flowers that extract the chemicals from the air. Therefore, you may need to replace the plants or pots regularly. You can also rotate a few indoor plants while old blooms fade, and new buds emerge.

HOW MANY PLANTS DOES IT TAKE TO PURIFY THE AIR IN A ROOM?

Author B.C. Wolverton recommends having at least two ‘good sized’ plants per 100 sq ft (9.2 sqm) of indoor space. This is according to the 1989 Nasa study on Interior Landscape plants for indoor air pollution abatement. The plants they have suggested including Golden pothos, Boston Fern and Weeping Fig. 

Golden Pothos
Golden Pothos Interior plant (Source brighterblooms.com)
Boston Fern
Boston Fern (Source rhsplants.co.uk)
Weeping Fig
Weeping Fig (Source gardenersworld.com)

1. BIRD’S NEST FERN

Bird’s Nest Fern is a true stylish beauty. Purifying the air of formaldehyde, these crinkly leaved ferns are great air cleaning indoor plants. They are often found in new flooring and wall coverings. They make a striking statement on a shelf or bathroom windowsill with glossy lime green fronds growing in rosettes. But, they will need up to 2ft (60cm) to splay out as they mature. 

BIRD’S NEST FERN
BIRD’S NEST FERN (Source MyDomaine)

These plants grow in the tops of trees. They come from the forests of Asia and Australasia and are used to varying light conditions from bright and airy to semi shade. They do need moisture. Therefore, a spot in a humid shower room or ensuite is definitely their happy place. They should be sprayed with mist every other day. This is particularly if they live in a dryer room but only water if the top inch of soil is dry. Room temperatures between 65-75ºF (18-24ºC) are ideal. You should avoid places below 55ºF (13ºC).

2.    ARECA PALM OR BAMBOO PALM, BUTTERFLY PALM

Definitely elegance personified beauties. These are the graceful arcing palms that adorned Art Deco hotel foyers, tea rooms and danced halls. These are native to Madagascar. They have distinctive smooth tipped branches and naturally cast a beautiful, dappled light. Along with many other types of palm, this plant excels at removing mold spores and ammonia (often found in household cleaning products) from the air, thanks to these broad leaves.  Thus they are perfect for bath and shower rooms. 

butterfly palm indoor plants
butterfly palm indoor plants (Source Garden Tabs)

This house plant prefers bright light that is filtered. This is because too much sun can lead to scorching the leaves of the plant. Therefore, the best is to place the Dypsis Lutescens near a south or west-facing window. But, there should be plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. Thriving at temperatures around 65-75°F (18-24°C) make sure the palm is clear of any drafts or radiators. These can cause stress.

Palms are a little fussy when it comes to watering. They tend to prefer distilled or rainwater. The main reason is the fluoride in mains tap water, which can cause the leaves to crisp and turn brown. You have to water the soil regularly. But you need to ensure that it is allowed to dry out in between. Make sure that there is good drainage since these tropical plants are prone to root rot if left standing in water.

3.    SPIDER PLANT OR HEN AND CHICKENS, RIBBON PLANT

It’s hard to imagine any home not having one of these striped leaved beauties tucked away somewhere. It is a classic air cleaning indoor plant. This plant is just an easy-to-grow favorite. More than any of that, these plants are formidable at removing formaldehyde, toluene and xylene all chemicals found in many synthetic fabrics, paints and glues. They have been proved to lower carbon monoxide levels too.

Indoor plants
Ribbon plan (Source The Spruce)

Spider plants are one of the easiest and most tolerant indoor plants you can grow. They favor temperatures between 55 and 80°F (13–27°C). They can even cope with artificial light. You need to keep them away from strong, direct sunlight which will crisp the leaves.

You have to water regularly during the spring and summer growing period, and occasionally through fall and winter. You can plant them up in pots and place on a high shelf or windowsill or display in hanging planters. They are also non-toxic for pets too unlike many other indoor plants.

4.    DRAGON PLANT – DRACAENA

Dragon plant is one of the most effective plants for absorbing trichloroethylene, which is a major VOC. The dragon plant is also extremely handsome and perfect for making a lush and bold leafy statement. It is perhaps one of the easiest indoor plants to grow. It can live for decades if well cared for. 

Dracaenas indoor plants
Dracaena indoor plants (Source ukhouseplants.com)

These well-natured plants come in all shapes and sizes, and colours. They prefer semi-shade. They make striking and individual statement plants from tall glossy green corn stalk plants to the Dracaena bi-color with its pink and white edged green leaves. Some varieties grow up to 10ft high. These plants are happy in temperatures of 60-70°F (16-24°C). This plant can survive lower temperatures (as low as 50°F or 10°C). But the leaves will suffer, usually turning yellow.

Dragon plants don’t tend to cope well with mains tap water. This is mainly due to the added chemicals. Try to use distilled or harvested rainwater instead. Aim to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Try to mist frequently with warm water.

5.    ENGLISH IVY

English Ivy
English Ivy (Source Get Green Be Well)

Regardless of temperature or light conditions, English or European ivy is a real winner. It is quick to grow and happy in most spots around the house. The attractive, trailing stems of distinctive evergreen leaves of this beautiful plant are particularly effective at reducing airborne toxic chemicals. 

Ivy is capable of removing trichloroethylene and benzene from the air. It is especially good at removing formaldehyde, which is a substance that occurs in almost all indoor environments (such as chipboard, furniture and textiles). Its foliage has also been shown to help reduce mold. This has made it a useful plant for damp spaces such as an ensuite or bathroom.

They perform best in direct sunlight, well-drained soil and with plenty of water. When all are provided, it will make a stunning statement draping down from a shelf or hanging planter. You have to keep at a steady temperature of between 52-71°F (11-22°C) for healthy growth.

Click here to read about small garden ideas for ADUs: https://engineerinc.io/a-small-garden-for-your-adu-to-grow-on-your-windowsill/

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