Reduce Indoor Air Pollution with These Common Houseplants

Reduce Indoor Air Pollution with These Common Houseplants

Did you realize that in some areas, indoor air can be 12 times more polluted than outdoor air? It makes sense when you think about it. There is a wide range of toxic chemicals in households today, some more obvious than others.

Although you can take measures to minimize them, there are some prevalent chemicals in the home that aren’t easy to eliminate including formaldehyde. This highly volatile organic compound is released in low levels by home furnishings, some flooring, as well as building products. High levels of formaldehyde can potentially cause cancer and have been proven to trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Formaldehyde is a common component of particle board furniture, cabinets and can be emitted by flooring glues, paints, repellent finishes applied to clothing and upholstery, natural gas stoves and more. The good news is that you can help reduce indoor air pollution (including formaldehyde) with common houseplants.

Research carried out by the American Society for Horticultural Science tested a variety of ornamental indoor plants to determine their ability to remove toxic VOCs from indoor air. The study determined that simply bringing a few common plants into your home can significantly improve indoor air quality.

After testing 28 species of ornamental plants, the purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata), English Ivy (Hedera helix) (English ivy), Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus)and Hoya carnosa, a variegated wax plant, had the highest indoor pollutant removal rates for the VOCs released. Another plant known for removing VOCs is the purple heart plant (Tradescantia pallida).

Purple Waffle Plant

This plant is one of the highest rated ornamentals for removing indoor air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Purple waffle plants are easy to take care of and have colorful leaves with a slightly metallic looking hue.

English Ivy

English Ivy thrives on partial sun and shade, making it a good choice to try indoors and it isn’t as temperamental as most ferns that fight indoor pollutants. Just occasional misting and watering during the winter months will keep this sturdy plant healthy.

Asparagus Fern

This plant isn’t a true fern; it is a member of the lily family. Asparagus fern is also a plant that is easy to care for and it grows fast. From late summer to fall this pretty, toxin-fighting plant produces tiny white flowers and occasionally forms black or red berries.

Hoya Carnosa

These attractive plants are a member of the Asclepiad species in the dogbane family, known for their scented flowers. A common houseplant, Hoya carnosa is one of the numerous of the species that are native to Australia and Eastern Asia.

Here are a few other plants that help fight indoor pollutants.

Boston Ferns

These ferns are highly effective at removing indoor air pollutants, including xylene and benzene, components of gasoline exhaust that can end up indoors if your home has an attached garage. The only downside to Boston ferns is that they can be challenging to care for. They need to be watered frequently and depending on the moisture levels and humidity in your home (they thrive under moist, humid conditions), you’ll need to mist their leaves or water them every day.

Flowering Plants

When it comes to flowering plants, Gerbera daisies and mums are the best for removing formaldehyde, with tulips and azaleas also near the top of the list. Something to keep in mind is that flowering plants need a lot more attention, prefer cool temperatures and require careful feeding and watering.


If you have pets, consult with your veterinarian before you bring plants into your home because many are toxic to animals.

Bringing a bit of nature indoors can be one of the best ways to significantly improve the quality of your indoor air. An added bonus is that they add a lovely touch to your home’s décor.


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