How indoor plants purify the air

Nowadays we are noticing trends in the plant industry as people are more and more health conscious, plants are becoming increasingly important as a component to better health and wellness. Not only are plants being grown for the wholesome goodness for eating, houseplants are making a comeback for cleaning the air that we breathe. In our previous blog post we learned that there are several gasses and toxins released into the air we breathe daily; these can cause diseases and allergies.

NASA released the results of a study they did back in 1989 regarding the positive effects that houseplants have in our homes to absorb toxins that we breathe or penetrate our skin. They stated that specifically there is a concern for children who are developing organs, including the brain, that gases and toxins such as formaldehyde can negatively impact this process.

Formaldehyde is one of the worst culprits and is found in dozens of items in the home. This gas is found in everything from plywood, particle board, glues, cabinets, carpets and walls and much more, even paper towel, along with other toxins such as benzene, ammonia, xylene and trichlorine.

So how do plants clean the air? The process is called phytomediation which is a term to describe the absorption of gases through plant leaves and roots. Plants contain tiny holes called stomata, in their foliage and through which they breathe and absorb toxins. It is best to clean leaves with plain water now and then to remove dust particles that can hinder the process.  It is also through these air holes that carbon monoxide is taken in and oxygen released back into the air.

Soil, mixed with activated charcoal works together to remove, smoke, radon and other gases and disintegrates completely. NASA found that plants can detoxify up to 85% of indoor air pollution and that is a significant benefit. Plants, called hyper accumulators, absorb high levels of pollutants without harming themselves. Heavy metals, radioactive contaminants and petroleum products are also toxins that plants absorb indoors and outdoors!

An example of what plants can do is in what occurred after Chernobyl in which a perennial variety of Helianthus (False Sunflower) was planted and used to remove the radioactive contaminants from ground water and it worked!

NASA says that in a home that is 1800-2000 square feet, there should be placed (15-18) 6-8” plants or 1 every 100 square feet. And besides all the benefits of detoxification there is an additional benefit to having houseplants which is decreasing stress levels and improving moods. In other words, a more natural anti depressant.

Flowering plants especially Chrysanthemums are excellent for not only absorbing formaldehyde, but also for the beauty as they blossom. Aloe Vera plants are one of the best herbs for absorbing toxins as well as having a gel within the foliage that has healing properties for cuts and burns.

Here is a list of easy to grow plants that are best for air purification indoors:

Aloe Vera, English Ivy, Rubber Plant, Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Bamboo Palm, Philodendron and Snake Plants. There are so many more; however, some can be toxic and/or take more care requirements!

It seems like NASA’s study is of greater value now than ever with so many new products used in homes that are bigger and better houseplants may be the best addition of all to clean the air. Besides that, the ability to improve our mood is an aesthetic benefit that goes a long way to reduce the stress of life.

Happy Indoor Gardening!


For more ideas ask your local garden center professionals and make sure you follow us on FacebookTwitter,YouTubeInstagram and Pinterest for other tips and hints.


 Guest post by Darlene - Bylands Account Representative

I grew up on a farm near Lloydminster and also grew up learning to garden. For some reason pulling weeds from around vegetables and flowers was a source of solace and accomplishment. I was a single mom by the time I attended Olds College to pursue a career in Horticulture and Floriculture. Nature and hands on work, including at Bylands, has been the best school for learning ever since.  Love to travel and always want to live a healthier lifestyle. Plants, people and Nature continue to play a big role in that. I love attending Oilers games with my nephew.