Houseplants are a balm for the part of ourselves that longs for the outdoors, even as we appreciate the security of four walls to call our own. Indeed, plants in our living space just seem to make us…better. Greenery itself is rejuvenating. For example, a study published in Environmental Science & Technology showed that simply moving to a greener urban area correlated with mental-health gains. Green space has also been linked with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Studies by the University of Illinois’ Landscape and Human Health Laboratory have shown that exposure to nature helps hyperactive children regulate their behavior; in these studies, just viewing nature improved a child’s ability to control impulses.
So bringing plants indoors seems like a no-brainer. In fact, the presence of houseplants does seem to help with concentration. Researchers found that having plants in an office boosts focus, according to a study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology. But indoor botanicals can do more for us than improve mood and productivity. They can actually improve the air quality in our homes in a number of ways, too. In this article, we list some of the best plants for every room of your house, from oxygen-producing bedroom plants to humidity-loving bathroom plants and cooking vapor-absorbing kitchen plants.
Bedroom: Aloe Vera
Keeping an aloe plant in your bedroom is smart because, unlike most plants, aloe releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide at night. The gel inside the spiky leaves also makes an excellent moisturizer or a good addition to homemade beauty products. Additionally, it doesn’t require much care. Find more uses for aloe in 15 Uses for Aloe Vera.
Why It’s Best: Releases oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide at night; shown to clear air of benzene and formaldehyde
Bathroom: English Ivy
This moisture-loving plant will be right at home in your bathroom, especially if you have a window to provide bright light. It clears air of benzene, airborne fecal matter and formaldehyde, which can outgas from a shower curtain or water-proofed shower mat. Be aware that the leaves are poisonous to pets and humans if ingested.
Why It’s Best: Prefers moist air; removes benzene, airborne fecal matter and formaldehyde from air
Dining Room: Areca Palm
Defeat dry indoor air with this moisture-adding plant. It’s highly effective at filtering formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air, as well.
Why It’s Best: Increases humidity; removes formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from air
Kitchen: Spider Plant
The kitchen generates a lot of cooking fumes, so install a resilient spider plant to help gobble some of the nasty air. It’s very good at removing carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, plus it can handle a whole host of other air pollutants.
Why It’s Best: Resilient; clears air of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, smog, formaldehyde, benzene and xylene
Living Room: Peace Lily
The peace lily is easy to grow, and it can give back to your living area, raising humidity levels by as much as 5 percent. The extra moisture is good for indoor air because dry indoor air can irritate mucus membranes, leading to runny noses and itchy eyes. It’s also a hardworking air filter.
Why It’s Best: Raises humidity levels; removes a variety of alcohols and chemical vapors, including acetone, benzene, ammonia, formaldehyde and xylene from air
3 Low-Key Houseplants
Lacking confidence in your green thumb? Build up your gardener’s ego and reap the benefits of cleaner indoor air with these three workhorse plants that don’t require a lot of maintenance.
1. Dracena ‘Janet Craig’: Adapts to indoor life well; won’t wilt if you forget about it for a bit; great at removing formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from air
2. Snake Plant: Needs very infrequent watering; ideal for low-light rooms; removes smog, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from air
3. Rubber Plant: Very forgiving; grows up to 8 feet; excellent at removing formaldehyde from air