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100 Day Challenge #21: Purify your air with some indoor plants

One of our dear friends, who had been teaching in China came for a visit last year. He and his family lived in Beijing for a few years and apparently had learned about the air purifying qualities of certain plants. Where had we been and why didn’t we know about this? We have been working with plants for years and knew nothing about this! We knew they made us happy, but who knew they were also cleaning the air? Minds blown!


You're probably thinking that there couldn't possibly be any toxins in the air at your home... well, we hate to break it to you but a huge range of products like paints, dry-cleaned clothing, carpeting, upholstery, and even your living room coffee table (if it's made out of particleboard) can release harmful toxins like volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If ventilation in your home is bad or you're highly sensitive to these toxins, you can start feeling ill, and there's even a term for this: sick building syndrome.


Our friend went on to explain there are certain plants, that are recommended for your home to help filter out some of the pollution and toxins that are in the air. We knew that plants took in CO2 and released oxygen during photosynthesis, but we didn’t know that some plants can also remove some harmful chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air we breathe. We did some research and found that NASA published a study in 1989 titled “Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Abatement.” Now if that name doesn’t put you to sleep, I don’t know what will...


The name of the study might not grab you but the information they shared with the public was fascinating. On page 10 they stated, “Since man's existence on Earth depends upon a life support system involving an intricate relationship with plants and their associated microorganisms, it should be obvious that when he attempts to isolate himself in tightly sealed buildings away from this ecological system, problems will arise.” Isn’t that true and why don’t people talk about this more often? The report goes on to say, “The answer to these problems is obvious. If man is to move into closed environments, on Earth or in space, he must take along nature's life support system.”


We couldn’t agree with the NASA study more. We don’t need to dominate and control Mother Nature, we need to live in harmony with it. When we can't be outside enjoying nature, we can still surround ourselves with in indoors and benefit from all they have to offer.


So bring plants into your home and enjoy the fresh, clean air they give you!


Below is the list of plants that NASA and the ALCA (Associated Landscape Contractors of America) recommends for natural air-filters.

  • Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

  • Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata 'Bostoniensis')

  • Kimberley queen fern  (Nephrolepis obliterata)

  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

  • Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

  • Dendrobium orchids (Dendrobium spp.)

  • Moth orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.)

  • Banana (Musa acuminata)

The following plants are also on the list as recommended air filters but can be poisonous to cats and/or dogs. So, if you have pets do some research before you put these in your home!

  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)

  • Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)

  • Peacy lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa')

  • Flamingo lily (Anthurium andraeanum)

  • Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)

  • Varigated Snake Plant or Mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata'Laurentii')

  • Hearleaf philodendron (Philodendron cordatum)

  • Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum)

  • Elephang ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum)

  • Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata)

  • Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana')

  • Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)

  • Florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)

  • Rubber plant (Ficus elastica)

  • Dumb canes (Dieffenbachia spp.)

  • King of hears (Homalomena wallisii)

  • Aloe vera (Aloe vera)

  • Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis "Janet Craig")

  • Warneckei (Dracaena deremensis "Warneckei")




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