Air purifying houseplants are like an extra set of lungs. They inhale the carbon dioxide we breathe out and exhale fresh oxygen into the room. But many go beyond this simple exchange and actually filter invisible toxins from the air. They absorb airborne compounds that escape from household paints, carpets, varnish, cleaners, and furniture. What’s the result? Suddenly you’ll feel like you’re living in a fresh forest—and you’ll reap the benefits of being in one too—from better concentration, more refreshing sleep, to improved creativity and lower stress!
You’ll already feel more relaxed just saying the name, Peace Lily. This beautiful tropical lily filters mold spores from the air while gracing your room with sails of white flowers. The rich green leaves also absorb benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, and carbon monoxide—all chemicals that we don’t want hanging around, but nevertheless may be present in our house. It’s one of the famous plants approved by NASA to filter the air inside the space station.
Philodendrons are another common houseplant that excel at purifying the air. The heart-shaped green and yellow leaves spill beautifully over the edge of a hanging basket or trail delicately off a window shelf. They give the look of lush abundance and make the inside of your room feel like it, too, by transforming indoor air into a jungle-fresh atmosphere.
This tough plant survives in low and average light and will brighten your room with its shiny, green leaves. The large fronds absorb many of the same toxins as a Peace Lily, such as toluene, benzene, and xylene, which are found in synthetic fabrics, plastic, nail polish, paint, and varnish. You can sleep easier knowing the ZZ is filtering these unsavory compounds from the air.
The narrow ribbons of green leaves can grow upwards of 8 feet, making this an excellent tree to revive any corner of a room. It supplies rich color on its own, or works well as a backdrop for a family of other indoor plants. It’s also known as a “dragon tree” for the red edge along its foliage, but rather than breathing fire, it exhales fresh air.
Fiddle Leaf Fig
The fiddle-shaped leaves of this tree are like huge air filters that silently freshen the atmosphere of your house. Like other houseplants, fiddle leaf figs also pull air down into the roots where soil microbes remove toxins before releasing it. While it requires more measured watering and care than the others, the silent music of this tree will surely enliven your mood and inspire your creativity.
This classic houseplant grows intriguing leaves that reach from the soil straight into the air. It releases most of its oxygen during the night, making it an excellent bedside companion, and it thrives in almost any well-lit location. When you’re not drinking in its purifying breath, the twisting leaves of yellow and green will be a constant source of eye candy.
We benefit from plants in so many ways—from colorful flowers and sweet aromas, to cool shade, and fresh harvests—but their most important gift is so common, yet essential, that we often take it for granted: air. We can’t go anywhere without it. Even up in space, astronauts have to bring some with them. It turns out the best technology that NASA could find for supplying it was a few humble houseplants. Our own homes are sometimes as airtight as a space station, especially during a Chicago winter, but we don’t have to suffocate or escape to a forest. We can bring a draft of the forest to all our indoor rooms, and all our houseplants ask in return is a bit of love and care. Stop by our garden centers today and breathe some life back into your home!
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.