8 Types Of Plants That Add Form And Function To Your Home

Natural Air Purfiers and Interior Decor

We love plants. Besides having a range of Earth friendly sustainable products that keep our homes clean and green, we thought this information might be useful for you if you are keen on bringing some functional flora into your living space. Having plants in the home can add a different dimension to an otherwise heavy or linear structural spaces. Some plants can also bring color into the picture and soften the palette, while purifying the air in your home.

Did you know that NASA had previously done a study on house plants that can keep the air in space stations clean and healthy? These plants can eliminate VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and other chemicals by simply absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. 

Let's first highlight some of the chemicals in the air that may exist in your home.

Formaldehyde

 Traces of this chemical can be found everywhere in the home, from building materials to household products. Insulation, glues and adhesives, compressed wood products like plywood, engineered wood, laminated veneer, MDF (medium-density fiberboards), gas stoves, fire retardants, etc. usually contain formaldehyde. This chemical causes cancer, while moderate exposure to it can lead to allergic reactions, it isn't ideal to have in the air especially in your home.

Benzene

Benzene exposure occurs largely through inhalation with the common causes being cigarette smoke and petroleum products. Sources of benzene are building materials like paint and glues, paint removers, detergents, rubber and inks, and can also be found in garages. It is a well-known cancer causing agent in cases of chronic exposure.

Trichloroethylene 

This organic compound can found in most building materials and industrial solvents that are used to remove grease. The common sources are rug cleaners, spot removal fluids, adhesives and paint removers. Trichloroethylene damages the CNS (Central Nervous System) causing fatigue, blurred vision, cancer and birth defects in extreme cases due to chronic exposure. This is a hazardous compound to have in the air of any home.

Xylene and Toulene 

Xylene and toulene poisoning happens through inhalation, swallowing or touching of any of these compounds. Both exists in fingernail polish, glues and adhesives, lacquer, paints, thinners, wood stains, rubber and plastic cements. They affect the nervous system, gastrointestinal system, kidneys and are generally harmful to humans and animals.

Ammonia 

We all probably know what ammonia smells like, but did you know that over-exposure can lead to nausea, vomiting and headaches? Ammonia can be found in household cleaners, animal feces, fertilizers, some petrochemical products and fuels. People with allergies and asthma can be particular sensitive to ammonia in the air.

 

8 House Plants That Help Purify The Air

Here are 10 house plants that will help to clean and purify the air in your home. Unfortunately, most of the plants listed here are harmful to animals such as dogs and cats. Rest assured, we have done some research and will highlight the ones that are pet-friendly.

Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata)

 

Snake Plant a.k.a Mother-in-law’s Tongue is a very popular house plant that can also be used outdoors in areas without direct sunlight. It’s native to West Africa and, with its upright leaves, has a lot of architectural interest. This makes it a popular choice for modern and contemporary homes where its form usually sits well with interior aesthetics. The snake plant is a very effective indoor air cleaner against formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene. Although it is only mildly toxic to pets, it does contain saponins—a natural chemical produced by the plant to protect it from insects, microbes, and fungi. This chemical can cause gastrointestinal upset in pets if accidentally consumed.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)

The Peace Lily helps purify the air by removing all of the offending chemicals listed above. In addition, it helps get rid of acetone, a chemical released by electronics and certain cleaners. Peace Lilies require shade and frequent watering. Unfortunately, Peace Lilies and cats are a bad combination as the plants are toxic to your furry friends, with dogs included.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis Exaltata Bostoniensis)

 

Indirect sunlight and moderate humidity are needed to keep your Boston Ferns happy. They’re easy to find, inexpensive and can take some neglect. Boston Ferns are one of the best organic filters of formaldehyde, though they also clean small amounts of xylene and toulene. Their shaggy fronds might tempt cats and dogs to chew on them, but fortunately it’s foliage is non-toxic to them.

Gerbera Daisy / Barberton Daisy (Gerbera Jamesonii)

 

Gorgeous Gerbera Daisies not only adds color to your home, but does some good too. Gerbera Daisies are a rare species that release oxygen during the night, so keep them in the bedroom for a restful sleep. They need sun and water as soon as the soil in the pot dries out. Gerbera Daisies rid the air of benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. And good news! They are non-toxic to both cats and dogs!

Broad Leaf Lady Palm (Rhapis Excelsa)

These beautiful mini palm trees with their finger-like leaves do well inside the house without direct exposure to sunlight. They’re easy to care for, making them a great indoor plant for gardening beginners! They process VOCs such as formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia. The good news is that they are non-toxic to animals. The bad news is that this plant has sharp spines at its base. So while it may not poison your cat or dog, it will cut them if they get too close.

Red-edged Dracaena (Dracaena Marginata)

The Red-edged Dracaena is a rugged and resilient species, easy to care for and looks graceful in any setting. They are tall and versatile specimens, growing up to 2.5m to 3m. Their stems can develop interesting curved and contorted, architectural shapes as they mature, adding more tropical beauty. Red-edged Dracaena filters formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene. Unfortunately, they also contain saponin, the chemical compound that’s toxic to cats and dogs.

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)

 

Golden Pothos or Money Plant is a fast-growing vine that looks great in hanging pots or wherever it has the ability to cascade or climb. Consider placing golden pothos near the garage as it has a unique ability to clean benzene out of the air as well as carbon monoxide. Formaldehyde,  trichloroethylene, xylene and toulene are other chemicals the plant can filter out. Due to the raphides and calcium oxalate in the plant, cat and dog owners are advised to keep this specimen away from their furry friends.

Philodendrons (Philodendron Oxycardium)

Philodrendrons are known specifically for removing formaldehyde from the air. Green, leafy and fairly low maintenance, philodendrons are among the more popular house plants. But though their durability makes them easy to care for, they also contain a toxin in their leaves called calcium oxalate, which incidentally are poisonous to your furry friends.

To really optimize the air purification process in your home, NASA recommends that you use 15 to 18 house plants (that live in 6 to 8 inch containers) in a 1800 square-foot home. The above specifications can be adjusted to suit the size of your home, so have fun tweaking!

Bringing plants into our lives will naturally create a better understanding of our environment. This will also lead to a more holistic approach towards a cleaner and greener home. 

Do you have suggestions on other species of plants that can filter out toxins in the air while beautifying the home? Feel free to drop us your comments.

Sources:

https://www.designboom.com/technology/nasa-clean-air-study-plants-natural-filter-06-13-2021/ 
https://www.rollingnature.com/blogs/news/top-20-best-indoor-air-purifying-plants

Photo credits:

Photo by Fabian Stroobants: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photo-of-green-snake-house-plant-2123482/
Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-wearing-gardening-gloves-holding-a-clay-pot-with-peace-lily-plant-4750404/
Photo by Sasha Kim: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-white-long-sleeve-shirt-holding-green-plant-9412338/
Photo by Mikhail Nilov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/gerberas-by-a-marble-wall-7814395/
Photo by Monstera from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/mock-up-poster-near-green-plant-6373485/
Photo by Anca: https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-dracaena-green-plant-7318276/
Photo by Elle Hughes: https://www.pexels.com/photo/plants-in-vases-2069425/
Photo by Tiia Pakk: https://www.pexels.com/photo/monstera-deliciosa-planed-in-vase-arranged-on-table-near-laptop-in-bedroom-5075473/
Photo by Huy Phan: https://www.pexels.com/photo/potted-green-indoor-plants-3076899/

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