Best Houseplants for Purifying the Air

  • Author: Constance Harrington
  • Published: July 9, 2020
  • Last Updated: August 29, 2022

I’m a massive advocate of having plants indoors. Whether it’s the home, office, or somewhere else, a selection of beautiful plants will improve the look of almost any indoor space. But the benefits of houseplants are not just limited to their visual appeal.

An increasingly common reason people grow plants at home is the fact they can clean the air. Although there is some debate about how effectively they do this, there is evidence that at least some plants can act as air purifiers.

Even if plants don’t have much impact on removing toxins from the air, any impact on indoor air pollution is a good thing – especially when considering the other proven benefits of having plants around.

Adding one or two random plants to your home will probably not do anything at all, but I believe having several of the best houseplants for purifying the air is likely to do SOME good. It’s certainly not going to do any harm!

Here are my recommendations for the best air purifying plants to grow indoors.

Snake Plants

Snake plants, or Dracaena trifasciata, are very popular as air purifiers. It helps that they need very little care and are almost impossible to kill naturally.

These plants help to eliminate toxic substances such as benzene and formaldehyde from the surrounding air.

Quick Care Tips for Snake Plants

  • Snake plants need minimal watering to stay healthy.
  • Snake plants like bright but indirect sunlight the best but can survive in lower light.

Red Dragon Trees

Like snake plants, red dragon trees are in the dracaena genus. Their full scientific name is Dracaena marginata, and they’re evergreen plants that feature ribbon-like leaves with red edges.

Red dragon trees can remove pollutants from the air, including trichloroethylene and xylene. They’re among the plants tested in the NASA Clean Air Study of 1989. However, they’re not the best air purifying plants for those with pets as they are toxic to most animals.

Quick Care Tips for Red Dragon Trees

  • Red dragon trees can reach up to two and a half meters (eight feet) tall, so they should be grown where there is plenty of space.
  • It’s good to mist the leaves of red dragon trees regularly.

Spider Plants

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are excellent air purifying plants for gardening beginners. They’re among the most resilient houseplants and require very little care.

The long wire-like stems and small offshoots of spider plants look a bit like spider webs, hence the name. These plants are safe for those with pets and absorb harmful substances, including xylene and formaldehyde.

Quick Care Tips for Spider Plants

  • Spider plants like soil that is moist but not soggy.
  • The best form of light for spider plants is indirect sunlight.

English Ivy

The English ivy plant is a perennial vine that grows naturally in Europe and Western Asia. Its scientific name is Hedera helix, and other common names include European ivy or just ivy.

English ivy is one of the more beautiful air purifiers. Its simple but attractive appearance makes it a popular choice for homes and offices, and the plant also helps to combat mold.

Quick Care Tips for English Ivy

  • English ivy loves bright sunlight.
  • Ivy needs well-draining soil and regular watering.

Dwarf Date Palms

Many palms are good air purifying plants, but dwarf date palms (Phoenix roebelenii) are among the best. They’re also known as miniature date palms and pygmy date palms.

As you might have guessed, these are not the biggest palms! They can grow to a maximum height of one and a half meters (five feet) but still provide a tropical feel. As well as purifying the air, they are also effective at increasing humidity levels.

Quick Care Tips for Dwarf Date Palms

  • Dwarf date palms can stand direct sunlight but prefer indirect sunlight as long as it’s bright.
  • A peat-based soil mix is ideal for dwarf date palms.

Devil’s Ivy Plants

Air purification is just one of several reasons to grow devil’s ivy indoors. It’s easy to care for, widely available, easy to propagate, and has no disease problems.

A downside of devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum) is that they are toxic to animals. You’ll need to keep these plants out of reach of your pets if you have any.

Quick Care Tips for Devil’s Ivy Plants

  • Devil’s ivy plants enjoy light but not direct sunlight.
  • Brown leaves are a sign that devil’s ivy needs more water.

Bamboo Palms

Bamboo palms (Chamaedorea seifrizi) are perfect plants for low light conditions. Their appearance makes them a great focal point for almost any room in the house, and they require very little care.

These plants are also among those tested as part of the NASA Clean Air Study, and they’re effective at removing benzene, xylene, formaldehyde, and other toxins. Bamboo palms are safe for cats and dogs, too.

Quick Care Tips for Bamboo Palms

  • Bamboo palms do not like waterlogged soil.
  • Full sun is not ideal for bamboo palms.

Flamingo Lilies

The flamingo lily is ideal if you want an air-purifying plant that adds color to your home. The heart-shaped leaves are glossy, and the blooms are an eye-catching red. It will flower in almost all conditions, making it an excellent choice for most homes.

Flamingo lilies are toxic to animals, unfortunately. Those with pets should avoid them unless the plants can be kept out of harm’s way.

Quick Care Tips for Flamingo Lilies

  • Flamingo lilies do especially well in high humidity.
  • Bright light is suitable for flamingo lilies, but you should keep exposure to direct sunlight to a minimum.

Chinese Evergreens

The Chinese evergreen is a tropical plant that looks great and is easy to look after. It effectively cleans the air of the harmful substances found in cosmetics and detergents.

Although Chinese evergreens are among the most popular houseplants, they are toxic to humans as well as animals. They should be kept well away from children and pets.

Quick Care Tips for Chinese Evergreens

  • Occasional misting with prevent the leaves on Chinese evergreens from browning.
  • Chinese evergreens thrive in low light and high humidity.

Other Benefits of Having Plants Indoors

I already mentioned the visual appeal that houseplants provide to indoor spaces. In addition to that and their air purifying qualities, houseplants have several other benefits to offer.

Top of the list for me is that growing and looking after houseplants is fun, relaxing, and very rewarding. It’s something I absolutely love doing and that’s more than enough reason to have plants indoors for me. 

Of course, not everyone will enjoy plant care as much as I do. Here are some other accepted benefits of indoor plants.

  • Lower stress levels
  • Reduced irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat
  • Increase attention levels
  • Improved energy levels
  • Boosted healing ability

Check out the following for more on these and other benefits.