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NASA-approved Houseplants for Fresher Air: Part 2

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 18, 2017
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Part Two of our Houseplants for Fresher Air guide, based on NASA’s studies and recommendations. The best houseplants, in my book, meet three criteria: (1) they add vitality, color, and beauty to your home; (2) they improve air quality; and (3) they’re hard to kill. This guide takes all three criteria into account, focusing primarily on the most often overlooked criteria: air quality. Read Part 1 here.


Air Quality Villains

First off, what everyday chemicals pollute the air in our homes? The five main villains are:

Effects: mild respiratory tract irritant, can produce contact dermatitis, reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen, neurological abnormalities
Found in: paint, lacquer, varnish, printer ink, adhesives, paint remover

Effects: irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat; asthma
Found in: paper bags, waxed paper, napkins, paper towels, plywood, particle board, synthetic fabric

Effects: disrupted blood production, leukemia, harmful to reproductive organs
Found in: detergent, glue, furniture wax, plastics, resins, dye, automobile exhaust

Effects: harmful to nervous system
Found in: automobile exhaust, tobacco smoke, paint, varnish, pesticides

Effects: irritation of skin, eyes, mouth, and lungs; coughing and sore throat
Found in: window cleaner, floor wax, fertilizer


Air Quality Heroes

Boston Fern

Filters: Formaldehyde, Xylene

Needs: High humidity, indirect light, moist soil

To provide a Boston fern with the necessary humidity, set the fern’s pot on a tray of pebbles filled with water, or mist the fern once or twice a week. A Boston fern’s leaves will turn yellow if the humidity is not high enough. Read more


Kimberley Queen Fern

Filters: Formaldehyde, Xylene

Needs: temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Farhenheit

More compact, tidier, and easier to care for than other house ferns. Its fronds don’t leave a mess. When the fern needs water, the fronds turn pale green; when the fern has too much water, the center fronds turn brown and crispy; when the fern receives hard water, the fronds will develop white marks. Read more


Chinese Evergreen

Filters: Formaldehyde, Benzene

Needs: indirect sunlight

One of the most durable houseplants you can buy. Older Chinese Evergreens can produce flowers like calla or peace lilies. Read more


Devil’s Ivy

Filters: Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene

Needs: indirect sunlight

When Devil’s Ivy doesn’t getting enough light, its leaves lose their yellow variegation. You can use support hooks to make the vines to climb around a window, or you can simply let the vines dangle. Read more


*Flamingo Lily*

Filters: Formaldehyde, Xylene, Ammonia

Needs: low light, high humidity

Flamingo flowers bloom nearly year round, and one plant produces as many as six flowers in one year (colored red, pink, or white). Each flower lasts around six weeks. Read more

Gals recommend!


Barberton Daisy

Filters: Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, Xylene

Needs: direct sunlight

Flowers may be red, pink, yellow, or white. When grown indoors, they can flower at any time in the year, and each flower lasts about four to six weeks. Read more


*Dracaenan Corn Plant*

Filters: Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, Benzene

Needs: indirect sunlight

A large plant that can grow up to six feet tall, well suited for large living rooms or hallways. The Dracaenan Corn Plant is unlikely to bloom indoors. Tolerant of low light and underwatering. Read more

Gals recommend!


*Varigated Snake Plant*

Filters: Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene

Needs: indirect light

A very tolerant plant, capable of surviving weeks of neglect without looking any worse for the wear. Read more

Gals recommend!


Florist’s Chrysanthemum

Filters: Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene, Ammonia

Needs: a cool, bright location

Flowers last for six to eight weeks, but when they cease, the plants are difficult to coax into reblooming. Most people treat Florist’s Chrysanthemum as an a short-term visitor. Read more




Note: If you have pets than you should be aware that most indoor plants aren’t safe for pet consumption. If you plan on growing plants in or outside of your home you should be aware of their toxicity. You can consult with your vet and see how it may affect your dog, cat, or any other animal that may consume it.