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NASA-approved Houseplants for Fresher Air: Part 1

Posted by Johnine Larsen on April 10, 2017
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Part One 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.


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

Miniature Date Palm

Filters: Formaldehyde, Xylene

Needs: lots of light

Minature date palms often look like multi-trunk palms. The stems end in graceful, feather-like fronds. Their stems and leaf ribs have long, sharp, strong spines. Read more


Spider Plant

Filters: Formaldehyde, Xylene

Needs: indirect light

One of the most adaptable and easiest to grow houseplants. Spider plants need time to dry out between waterings, and they prefer a pot-bound environment. Read more


Bamboo Palm

Filters: Formaldehyde, Xylene

Needs: bright, indirect light; a pot two inches larger than the nursery pot

Bamboo palm plants don’t take much time or energy. Healthy palms have dark green leaves—don’t but one that’s wilting or has brown leaves. Read more


Weeping Fig

Filters: Formaldehyde, Xylene

Needs: indirect light, away from drafts, little to no relocation

The glossy, pointed leaves which become darker green as the plant ages. Some owners will braid its trunks. Weeping fig can grow up to ten feet indoors if left unpruned. In early fall, expect it to drop quite a few leaves. Read more



Filters: Trichloroethylene, Xylene, Ammonia

Needs: moist soil

The adult plant reaches a height of about 1 to 1 1/2 feet and produces white and lavender flowers in the summer. Read more


*Broadleaf Lady Palm*

Filters: Formaldehyde, Xylene, Ammonia

Needs: moist soil

One of the easiest houseplants to grow. If unpruned, can grow up to fourteen feet tall. The Broadleaf Lady Palm can grow in temperatures from 20 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and any level of humidity. Read more

Gals recommend!


English Ivy

Filters: Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene

Needs: cool, moist air

Ivy thrives under fluorescent light. I can be grown as a hanging plant indoors, or it can climb a moss stick or trellis. Read more


Red-Edged Dracaena

Filters: Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene

Needs: once- or twice/week watering

It can grow in shade or sun, and is drought-tolerant. As dracaena grows, it gets tall and lanky and loses its leaves at the bottom of the plant. Read more


*Peace Lily*

Filters: Trichloroethylene, Formaldehyde, Benzene, Xylene, Ammonia

Needs: indirect light, no overwatering

Very easy to care for. Far more tolerant of underwatering than overwatering. Peace lilies that receive more light tend to produce more white flowers, while peace lilies in lower light look more like traditional foliage plants. Read more

Gals recommend!



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.

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