Did you know that indoor air is often far more polluted than outdoor air? While this rather disquieting fact may have some of you rushing to the shop to buy air purifiers, it’s worth mentioning that nature has already provided us with a far more effective method for neutralising the emissions from our contaminated lifestyles – the plant. However, some plants are better at filtering out airborne nasties than others. So here’s a run-down on some of the most effective plant purifiers nature has to offer.
Part of the succulent plant species, Aloe Vera is easy to grow and thrives in sunlight – it’s therefore ideal for sunny kitchen window sills. It helps to clear chemicals emitted from paint and cleaning products such as formaldehyde and benzene. The gel found inside can also help to heal cuts and burns.
Also known as Chlorophytum Comosum, the Spider Plant features rich foliage with small white flowers and is so resilient that it could probably survive a large-scale nuclear attack. It’s also very effective at purifying air which contains benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene. In terms of care and maintenance, spider plants prefer dry soil and bright indirect sunlight.
The Gerbera Daisy is native to South America and Asia but is widely available as a potted plant. It is excellent at filtering out chemicals found in laundry and dry cleaning such as trichloroethylene. So add one to your utility room but be sure to give it a great deal of light (at least six hours per day).
This fast-growing vine is another formidable formaldehyde fighter and is therefore at its best when installed in places like garages where car exhaust fumes tend to linger. Golden Pothos plants require indirect, bright light but take care not to overwater. It’s also poisonous so keep it well out of reach in a hanging basket or somewhere inaccessible to children.
Despite its pretty, colourful exterior, the Chrysanthemum packs a punch when it comes to air purification. It’s particularly effective at filtering out benzene which is often found in glue, paint, detergent and plastics. The plant thrives on bright light so try to keep in next to an open window. Laundry rooms and offices can really benefit from one of these little beauties.
Warneckii is the most colourful of the Dracaena family and features striped leaves which form clusters at the top of a thin stem. It’s actually one of the most effective air-purifiers on this list and can deal with benzene as well as other chemicals found in varnishes and oils. The Warneckii has the potential to grow up to 12 feet so you may want to keep an eye on its progress.
This low maintenance plant, which only requires weekly watering, removes the most common VOCs from the air: formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It can also fight toluene and xylene. Like the Warneckii, the Peace Lily is among the most useful air-purifiers available.