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Live Green

Plant Power Can Improve Your Air

Houseplants are more than pretty, they can also pack a punch when combating chemicals. Find out which plants can improve air quality in your home. 

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®


You may not realize it, but every time you bring in new materials into your home, you’re also welcoming many uninvited chemicals. Every item has the potential to bring along with it the chemicals that were used in its manufacturing process. Just unbagging your dry cleaning can expose you to contaminants. These volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) make up a portion of the air pollution that exists inside our homes. Even when you can't smell them anymore, VOCs pollute the air enough to irritate your respiratory tract and cause headaches, sinus congestion, and fatigue.


Pioneering research at NASA has shown that houseplants are an antidote to many of the unhealthy household substances that contribute to poor indoor air quality and lead to illness. Greenery soaks up VOCs, breaks them down, and uses them for food.


Improve the Air1

Picking and Placing Plants

Two or three plants in 8-inch or 10-inch pots for every 100 square feet will help clean up the air in your breathing zone. Double that, and your indoor environment will become healthier in less time -- just one week. A breathing zone is an area of 6 to 8 cubic feet surrounding a person. These are areas where an individual remains for several hours, such as at a desk or computer, watching TV, or sleeping.


Nature's Superplants

Pictured and listed are plants effective against a range of the more common household emissions, such as ammonia, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene. Create plant groups by mixing varieties.


  • Bamboo palm
  • Lady palm
  • Dwarf date palm
  • "Janet Craig" dracaena
  • English ivy
  • Kimberly queen
  • Weeping fig
  • Gerbera daisy
  • Corn plant
  • "Warneckei" dracaena


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