6 low-maintenance plants that can improve indoor air quality

Buildings are the backdrop of our everyday lives. We spend the majority of our time inside, and a growing body of research indicates that indoor air may be more polluted than it is outside

A possible fix to this issue? Houseplants.

In the late ‘80s, NASA published a study that examined whether plants could double as air filtration systems. The federal agency, exploring long-term space inhabitation, knew that volatile organic compounds released by the materials used to make a space capsule's interior could pollute the air inside it. 

NASA found that specific plants could filter out air pollutants, such as benzene and formaldehyde. Other research since then also concludes that houseplants could help reduce the amount of air pollutants. 

Looking to spruce up your home with shrubs but perhaps your thumb isn’t that green? Take a look at these six plants that are easy to care for and that can also help you breather easier at home.

1. Spider Plant


Photo by madaise via Flickr under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Removes: Formaldehyde

This grasslike plant, with its long narrow leaves is a popular for its ease and speed of growth. Spider plants grow best in bright, indirect light and typically reach 2 to 2 1/2 feet wide and 2 to 3 feet long when in a hanging basket. 

2. Peace Lily 

Removes: Ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, TCE trichloroethylene, toluene, xylene

Peace lilies thrive in indirect sunlight, making them great for rooms with few windows. Place this hardy plant around 5-7 feet away from a window, and make sure they're in a room with a temperature between 65 and 80 degrees.

You can water peace lilies around once a week. They usually signal when they need additional water when it starts to sag.

3. Snake Plant 

Removes: Formaldehyde, benzene

Also known as Mother-in-Law's Tongue, the snake plant has leaves that grow upright, some with variations of yellow or white edges. It can grow in a variety of lighting conditions and in any normal room temperature. 

4. Aloe Vera

Removes: Carbon monoxide, benzene, formaldehyde

Aloe vera, commonly used for burns and cuts, requires little moisture to survive like its fellow succulent species. Water the plant only when the soil is completely dry, and place it in a window, where it can receive bright, direct sunlight. 

5. Golden Pothos

Removes: Carbon monoxide, formaldehyde

These plants with heart-shaped leaves favor indirect bright light, high humidity and warm temperatures within the 65 to 80 degree range. They're capable of growing leaves that are 20 inches, but in homes, they seldom grow larger than five inches. 

6. Bamboo Palm

Removes: Benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene

In finding the right spot to place a bamboo palm in your home, look for a place that offers indirect or filtered sunlight. Water the plant only when the soil feels dry, and make sure that it's not under a vent. The bamboo plant favors temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees during the day and no lower than 60 degrees at night.

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