Houseplants Can Improve Indoor Air Quality

September 03, 2019

breathe easy woman

As you put away the pool toys, begin shopping for school supplies and finally start to accept that summer is on its way out and fall is on its way in, take a second to think about the transition of your home too. Saying goodbye to sunny, humid New Jersey days and hello to crisp fall air is a big change for your HVAC system. There are many things to consider, including Indoor Air Quality (IAQ).

Now IAQ might be the last thing on your mind as the seasons change, but believe it or not, it matters for the overall quality of the air you breathe when in your home. A simple way to help regulate your home’s IAQ is by investing in houseplants. There is plenty of research on specific plants that will not only beautify your home but also help transition it seasonally. Let’s dive into the research.

Research on Houseplants and Indoor Air Quality

The idea that houseplants can help purify your home’s air was first found in research by astronauts who were trying to detoxify space stations in 1989. They found that houseplants are effective natural air purifiers, especially bigger, leafier plants.

Bill Wolverton, a former NASA research scientist who conducted that 1989 study, typically recommends at least two medium to large size plants per 100 square feet of space. His personal favorite is the Boston fern, but it is difficult to grow indoors, so, he recommends golden pothos plants as an effective air detoxifying plant. They are arguably the easiest of all houseplants to grow.

After the NASA experiment was released, other scientists dug deeper into this concept. They found that while it would take covering your whole home in houseplants to influence its volatile organic compounds (VOC) levels, houseplants do help improve indoor air quality and airflow.

Indoor Air Quality Benefits of Houseplants

There are many benefits to including houseplants as a part of your home decor. According to researchers, these are the top:

  • Reduction in irritation to eyes, ears, nose, and throat

  • Reduction in coughing and congestion

  • Reduction of stress

  • Attention capacity boost

  • Natural humidifier

  • A decrease in carbon dioxide (CO2)

Recommended Houseplants for an Indoor Air Quality Boost

The 1989 NASA study analyzed specific houseplants that had air detoxifying qualities. We’ve compiled a list of their recommended plants and the benefits and warnings below:

  1. Peace Lily

    • Easy to care for

    • Requires little light

    • Requires little water

  2. Chrysanthemum

    • Loves direct sunlight

    • Requires a medium amount of water

    • Produces beautiful, colorful flowers

    • Cleanses air of formaldehyde, xylene, ammonia, benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene.

    • Warning: Can be poisonous to animals

  3. Devil’s Ivy or Golden Pothos

    • One of the most popular houseplants

    • Extremely easy to care for

    • Efficient at cleansing the air of pollutants, such as benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, and formaldehyde.

  4. Red-Edged Dracaena

    • Easy to care for

    • Requires sunlight

    • Minimal watering

    • One of the most efficient plants at removing formaldehyde from the air

  5. Snake Plant

    • One of the best houseplants for absorbing airborne toxins

    • Can endure low amounts of light at long durations

    • Requires minimal watering and maintenance

There are additional houseplants that botanists and scientists recommend for IAQ. For a longer list click here and here.

Investing in a few houseplants is a simple way to detoxify the air around you.  Now, remember, these plants aren’t a substitute for good ventilation or efficient HVAC systems; they simply enhance your home’s IAQ.

Make sure to give A.J. Perri a call (732) 733-2548 to schedule a heating and cooling maintenance check and to be sure your IAQ is comfortable all year long.


Last Updated: June 09, 2023