It has long been said that plants are the lungs of the earth.
They produce oxygen and clean the air of toxins. Those of us who love the outdoors often report the beneficial impacts that trees and lawns have within the urban ecosystem to deal with auto emissions and other pollutants.
But don’t forget about the indoors where other poisonous compounds can be released by furniture, carpets and building material. What’s the best antidote – especially in buildings with closed ventilation systems? Houseplants.
Inside or out, plants work for us 24/7. Studies by NASA’s renowned researcher, Dr. B.C. Wolverton, found that houseplants are the best filters of common indoor pollutants such as ammonia, formaldehyde and benzene.
What should you grow?
Listed below are five top-rated pollution-absorbing plants that offer diverse shapes and textures as well as foliage and flowers. Most are relatively easy to grow – but you should check with your local garden center to confirm which would be the best plants for your home or office.
Ask about mature size, sunlight requirements and toxicity for pets and children before you buy. Just as with outdoor plants, indoor plants should be selected based on exposure to sunlight, temperature, available space and the time you can devote to their maintenance.
Think of indoor plants as a way to keep your green thumb in shape for the outdoor growing season. Here are five plants that have extremely high ratings for removing indoor toxins.
#1 – Boston fern – Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”
Foliage plant highest rated for removing pollutants. Requires frequent misting and watering to prevent brown leaves and leaf drop. Excellent as a hanging plant.
#2 – Florist’s mum – Chrysanthemum morifolium
Flowers provide brilliant color. Highly rated for removing chemical vapors. Insect resistant. Blooms 6-8 weeks. Use for seasonal color
#3 – Gerbera daisy – Gerbera jamesonia
Flowering plant available in many colors. Blooms all winter when kept on a cool window sill. Extremely effective for removing toxins from air. Resistant to insects, but requires some care.
#4 – Dwarf date palm – Phoenix roebelenii
Foliage plant. High overall rating for removing toxins, ease of maintenance and resistance to insects. While a slow grower, it can reach 5 to 6 ft. and fronds will grow 3 ft. wide. Adapts well to indoor light and controlled temps indoors.
#5 – Dracaena “Janet Craig” – Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”
Foliage plant in the agave family. The “Compacta” variety is a smaller plant that grows 1 to 3 ft. Best dracaena for removing toxins; low maintenance; insect resistant.
With Valentine’s Day coming soon, consider giving flowers that are not only pretty, but also sustainable by cleansing the air you breathe. Even lower-rated flowering plants such as cyclamen have an air-cleaning capacity and they have longer-lasting flowers than a bouquet.