The best air-purifying plants for a healthier home

Bring in some fresh air with the help of air-purifying houseplants.

Air-purifying plants

by Eleanor Weaver |

Since the wake of Covid-19, we’ve all been looking for the best ways to boost our immunity, support our wellbeing, and keep our homes as healthy as possible.

While a simple potted plant won’t protect your health and home from lurgies, introducing air-purifying plants to your indoor space certainly won’t hurt! These houseplants can help to filter toxins from the air and improve your respiratory health, as well as bringing a wealth of benefits that come from living in a greener space.

Related: Easy-care houseplants you need while you're working from home

There’s never been a better time to bring the outside indoors, so our shopping experts have found some of the best air purifying plants you can introduce to your home.

Splurge on a couple of this lovely lot to freshen up your living spaces – both aesthetically and literally.

How do plants detox the air in your home?

Patch Plants' Plant Doctor Meg says, "As city-dwellers, we spend more than 90 per cent of our time indoors. Toxic compounds, like formaldehyde, from furnishings, upholstery, building materials, and cleaning products all contribute to making indoor air quality less than squeaky clean. Outdoor air contaminants can also find their way inside, such as pollen, bacteria, and moulds. But it’s not all doom and gloom - as well as looking great, houseplants are pretty nifty air purifiers, removing these toxins from the air and transforming them into oxygen.

"So how do indoor plants manage this neat trick? Well, as plants absorb carbon dioxide they also take in toxic particles from the air. During photosynthesis, they transform these toxins into lovely, pure oxygen which they then release into their environment."

Related: 12 things you need to make your home office healthy

They work wonders removing airborne chemicals, also known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are found in everyday products and materials including mattresses, household cleaners, carpets, furniture, paint, and even in our breath. They help to naturally filter these particles, produce more oxygen, and in turn improve our surrounding air quality.

What benefits can you expect to see?

Breathing in clean air is central to our wellbeing.

Whilst the Covid-19 lockdowns led to reduced travel and emissions, great for improving outdoor air quality, the same can't be said for the indoors.

Airthings, a global authority in indoor air quality and producer of indoor air quality solutions, reported an increase in indoor CO2 and VOCs due to the lockdowns in the UK with more people spending time indoors and doing more frequent household activities.

Increased CO2 and pollutants can cause headaches, restlessness, poor sleep, and fatigue - sound familiar? It does to us! Improving ventilation, filtration, and purifying the air in your home can help reduce these conditions.

The best air-purifying plants

If you're looking to introduce plants to your home with the best value for money, we'd have to recommend getting started with a set of indoor houseplants designed to help purify the air in your home. This lucky-dip set of three from Thompson & Morgan will provide you with a unique collection of plants designed to brighten your home and breathe in new life. The plants are selected at random with potential varieties including Dracaena, Parlour Palms, Monstera, Rubber Plants, and Aloe Vera, all great options for air purification.

Supplied in 12cm nursery pots (decorative pots not included).

Another fantastic set of air-purifying plants, this particular mix of tropical plants includes Chlorophytum, Areca Palm, Spathiphyllum, and Nephroplepis, and each comes in a decorative Elho pot. These evergreen plants will help ensure a more pleasant air humidity and a healthy oxygen content in the air. They like bright locations, so we'd recommend these if you have space available on a table or window sill where they can enjoy some great sunlight.

Supplied in 12.5cm Elho pots.

Not only does this plant produce stunning white lily flowers, but studies have also shown the Peace Lily to be a fantastic choice for helping to purify the air and produce oxygen in your home. Because of this, it's a great pick to have in your bedroom to help with relaxation and improved sleep, and it requires partial shade to thrive - perfect for the bedroom or rooms with lower light conditions.

Supplied in 9cm nursery pots (decorative pot not included).

Known for being super easy to look after, the Spider Plant is a great way to add a pop of fresh, green colour to your home that can survive in a variety of different indoor environments - the kitchen, bedroom, conservatory, and bathroom are all viable options! With an array of beautiful, pristine, striped leaves, this plant has tremendous air-purifying qualities that'll help to remove any harmful pollutants and toxins in the air.

Supplied in 11cm nursery pot (decorative pot not included).

Most Dracaenas, AKA Dragon Trees, make great air-purifying plants with NASA research finding them to be one of the most efficient indoor plants for filtering formaldehyde (which is often found in fibreboard and plywood) from the air. We love this 'Janet Craig' variety which packs rich green and luscious leaves and looks almost Palm Tree-like in appearance - an awesome air purifier that'll add an exotic touch to your home.

Supplied in 19cm nursery pot (decorative pot not included).

Chinese Evergreen plants are the perfect combination of beautiful foliage and being low maintenance - ideal for new plant parents. This 'Silver Bay' variety is just one of the 21 members of the Chinese Evergreen family which boasts large, lush dappled leaves and a long life span. Native to tropical regions of Asia, this plant can help to humidify and improve air quality with the fellow 'Modestum' variety also seen by NASA to effectively remove air toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene.

Supplied in 17cm nursery pot (decorative pot not included).

Similar to a small bush or shrub, this houseplant is one of the best at beating pollutants that are emitted from carpeting and furniture such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. Suitable for positioning indoors in a place of bright but indirect sunlight, it has glossy leaves, delicate branches, and the graceful 'weeping' sweep of the plant will perfectly soften any room.

Supplied in 27cm nursery pot (decorative pot not included).

This houseplant purifies the air most efficiently, as proven by NASA in its Clean Air Study. It absorbs toxins such as VOCs and expels clean oxygen into your home, making the air you breathe safer. Its compact size makes it a great addition for a window sill or side table and requires little in the way of care with light watering and indirect light. An added bonus is that the waxy leaf surface will attract dust, removing it from the air and making it a great plant for allergy sufferers.

Supplied in 17cm nursery pot (decorative pot not included).

A favourite for contemporary homes, this trendy plant is easy to care for, suiting most light conditions, and only requiring light watering. So-called due to the thick, rubber-looking leaves and the white latex contained in the plant that was once used to make rubber, this plant is air purifying, hardy, and ornamental with the potential to grow 3m in height.

Supplied in neutral patterned hand made ceramic pot.

Also known as a Bamboo Palm, this plant packs fantastic benefits to help with air purification, air quality, and skincare. According to NASA research, the Areca effectively purifies indoor spaces, helping to filter VOCs such as cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes. As a transpiring plant, it's an impressive humidifier that can help to soften skin damage caused by central heating in the colder months and can help to relieve respiratory issues.

Supplied in 17cm nursery pot (decorative pot not included).

Known for its heart-shaped green leaves, the Golden Pothos is just one cultivar of the Pothos family. It's also known as the Devil's Ivy as it's almost impossible to kill, and stays beautifully fresh and green, even in the dark. The plant can remove indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, trichloroethene, toluene, xylene, and benzene, and would make a great choice for standard pots or hanging plant pots in the home.

Supplied in 12cm nursery pot (decorative pot not included).

An utterly gorgeous plant for hanging in the home, expect trailing strings of leaves that'll grow freely and thrive in most light conditions. Whilst you may expect to see English Ivy more so outdoors, having it as an indoor plant will help to clean the air of mould spores and other VOCs. It's a fast-grower so you may need to trim it back, and a fan of humidity makes it a great pick to hang in the bathroom.

Supplied in 13cm nursery pot (decorative pot not included).

If you’re not sure if the plants already in your home are doing the trick, check to see how much foliage they have. The ‘air-filtering’ happens through the plant’s leaves, so a houseplant with lots of foliage will be working well to purify your air.

How many plants do I need to clean the air in my home?

Way back in 1989, NASA discovered how beneficial houseplants were for absorbing harmful toxins, especially in enclosed spaces with little airflow.

Based on this research, they were able to recommend that in order to efficiently clean the air in your home, you’ll need at least one plant every 100 square feet, but further studies have suggested the more the better!

As we’re by no means recommending you turn your home into a jungle, introducing any number of plants will help to improve the air quality in your living space. If you include a variety of different common houseplants from our list, many of which are NASA tested and approved, they’ll efficiently do the job.

Should I buy an air purifier or air-purifying houseplants?

Whilst air purifiers are more powerful, we’d recommend buying air-purifying houseplants instead. Not only are they more natural, aesthetically pleasing, and cost-effective, they boast loads of health and wellbeing benefits that an air purifier could only dream of:

• Help maintain respiratory health and minimise headaches

• Lower stress and anxiety

• Boost recovery and healing

• Enhance concentration and productivity – check out the best plants for optimal WFH concentration

• Improved mood and reduced fatigue

• Working with plants can be therapeutic and being closer to nature is kind for your mind!

What to read next:

The best products to bring nature into your home

The best artificial plants for a low maintenance home jungle

The best dried flowers: A trending at-home décor

Eleanor Weaver is a Commercial Content Writer for titles such as Yours, What’s The Best, and Mother&Baby.

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