Houseplants can bring much-needed life to any room—and as many of us are renters in urban environments, our exposure to nature has to be brought indoors. But whether you live in the suburbs, country or city, any previously drab or inanimate space can immediately be lifted by the addition of a houseplant.
Houseplants aren’t just for decor — they can have health benefits, too. Research has demonstrated the addition of home greenery can reduce stress and anxiety, humidify a dry apartment, aid in depression—and according to NASA—houseplants can naturally purify your air.
Poorly ventilated apartments can be full of stagnant air and pollution, which can lead to what NASA and the EPA refer to as sick building syndrome. Sick building syndrome may sound strangely clinical, but the real-life effects of indoor air pollution can make life difficult, or even result in cold-like symptoms or respiratory discomfort.
NASA reports that up to 30 percent of all newly remodeled spaces, and many spaces with mechanical ventilation have issues with indoor pollution. They recommend the same approach as when they were tasked with purifying the air in space—get houseplants!
Below are nine houseplants to considering for your home, to increase the air quality and, by default, the quality of life.
Colorful and hardy, the air-purifying champion of NASA’s research effectively reduced ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene in the air.
Peace Lily: Spathiphyllum
Peace lilies are the ideal houseplants for people convinced they have a “black thumb,” as they do fine in low light, and visibly droop when they need to be watered, telling you exactly what they need. A happy peace lily will thrive for years and is great at removing ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air.
With virtually no light requirements — though they grow the fastest in bright light—snake plants are thought of as an plant almost impossible to kill. They thrive on neglect and prefer long stretches of no water. They’re also great at removing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air.
Aloe Vera: Aloe barabensis
Aloe is another plant that loves to be neglected; just find a nice place in the sun and it will grow for years. And if you get a sunburn, simply remove a frond, open it up, and spread the gooey contents on your skin for instant relief. Plus, it’s awesome for removing formaldehyde from the air (see photo at the top of this article).
One of the most effective air purifiers on this list, the Boston Fern is the perfect plant to keep in your bathroom. They love humidity, to be in slightly damp soil, and they don’t have a high light requirement. Plus, they help remove formaldehyde and xylene from the air.
Rubber Tree: Ficus elastica
Both visually appealing and incredibly hardy, this plant will grow very large if left to its own devices. It’s low-maintenance and loves to go outside on the porch or terrace in the summer. Great at removing benzene, formaldehyde, and trichlorethylene from the air.