Houseplants make beautiful accent pieces in our homes. Living with plants not only provides ample oxygen but also therapeutic benefits as well. Caring for plants can ease depression and anxiety, and the greenery or pop of color in blossoms can boost your mood, especially for people living in a city without access to many public green spaces.
But some houseplants go above and beyond the list of benefits by acting as powerhouses to help purify the air in your home.
NASA conducted a study to find houseplants that were particularly beneficial at breaking down and neutralizing toxic gases such as benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and carbon monoxide. (However, it’s important to note that plants can only remove so many toxins; you would need a lot of plants to make them truly effective.)
Still, houseplants that clean the air while also brightening your space are a fantastic addition to your home! I’ve compiled a list of the best houseplants for cleaning the air, but also some of the easiest houseplants to take care of.
Here are some of the best indoor houseplants (in no particular ranking order):
1. English Ivy
Toxic: Yes – English ivy is mildly toxic to humans and quite toxic to pets.
This lovely vine prefers cooler temperatures and medium-bright light to thrive. Although it likes moderate waterings and high humidity, it doesn’t do well in wet soil, so be sure not to overwater. Variegated varieties like less light than varieties with greener leaves.
2. Snake Plant | Mother-In-Law’s Tongue
Toxic: Yes – The snake plant is toxic to both humans and pets if ingested.
The snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is extremely hardy and an easy keeper. In fact, it thrives on neglect. It doesn’t like much water and can even go several months between waterings. The snake plant can survive in low light conditions but does better when it has moderate but indirect light.
3. Spider Plant
Toxic: No – The spider plant is non-toxic to humans and pets, although it is mildly hallucinogenic to cats, which may make them more likely to ingest the foliage and result in upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea.
This plant is an easy keeper! It can tolerate low-light conditions, although it’s more likely to flourish in bright, indirect light. Well-drained soil is a must, and the spider plant will be happiest when the soil dries out between waterings. It’s very easy to propagate, as it will send out arching shoots that can be removed and placed in water to generate roots. This resilient houseplant is great for newbies or homeowners with brown thumbs.
4. Red-Edged Dracaena | Dragon Tree
Toxic: Yes – Although the red-edged dracaena is non-toxic to humans, it is toxic to pets.
This tropical beauty does well in filtered indoor light. Keep out of directly sunlight, as this will scorch the leaves. Dracaena require less water than most houseplants and prefer to dry out completely between waterings. This plant is sensitive to fluoride, which can be found in tap water, so filtered, distilled, or rainwater is best.
5. Aloe Vera
Toxic: Yes – Aloe vera is toxic to both humans and pets if ingested.
This is a phenomenal plant to keep in the kitchen, as it’s also known as “the burn plant” and has been used as a medicinal plant for thousands of years to treat a variety of skin conditions, including wounds and burns.
It’s also a very hardy plant that’s easy to care for. Aloe vera likes bright light and prefers infrequent waterings. When you do water, make sure to give it a good, thorough drink, then wait several weeks before watering again. Water even less frequently in the winter.
6. Chinese Evergreen
Toxic: Yes – The Chinese evergreen plant is toxic to humans and pets.
This plant is great for office settings because it likes shade or moderate indirect light and can even handle unnatural light such as fluorescent lights. However, it’s not a fan of dry air. It likes high humidity, moist soil, and moderate waterings, although it’s prone to root rot if overwatered or left in standing water.
7. Peace Lily
Toxic: Yes – The peace lily is toxic to both humans and pets. All lilies are very toxic to cats.
While this plant is a popular gift for funerals and times of mourning, it’s also a great addition to the household. Peace lilies are relatively hardy but don’t like to go too long between waterings. They’re very susceptible to root rot if overwatered, but this plant will let you know when it’s thirsty; its leaves will droop.
Peace lilies do best in bright but indirect light such as an east-facing window. They’re sensitive to fluoride, which can be found in tap water and will cause brown leaf tips. Humid conditions will help the plant thrive; this can be artificially achieved by misting the leaves or setting the pot on top of a tray filled with gravel and water to ensure the pot isn’t sitting directly in the water. Peace lilies can even be grown in water with no soil, as long as the base of the plant is suspended high enough in the vase to be above the water line.
8. Gerbera Daisy | Barberton Daisy
Toxic: No – Gerbera daisies are non-toxic to humans and pets.
A favorite among florists, this bright and cheery plant will add a pop of color to your home. Gerbera daisies like direct sun and water at least once a week. Well-drained soil is a must. For best results, trim them back after the blossom starts to wilt in order to encourage new blooms.
9. Broad Lady Palm
Toxic: No – The broad lady palm is non-toxic to humans and pets.
Palms are popular additions to the home, adding a tropical touch to any space. But they’re also great air purifiers! Palms do best in indirect light, such as an east window. They’re tolerable to most soil types, as long as the soil is well-draining. They can also handle brief dry periods between waterings.
Toxic: Yes – Chrysanthemums are toxic to both humans and pets.
A sure sign that autumn is here, these beautiful fall flowers make great indoor houseplants. They’re also good at eliminating toxins in your home! Chrysanthemums do best when they have five or more hours of direct sunlight per day, and they’re usually very thirsty; don’t let the soil dry out completely between waterings.
To extend bloom time, deadhead old blossoms. A good practice in spring and early summer is to pinch back the tips of the stems to promote fuller plants, but be sure to stop pinching back around mid-July so the plant can bloom in the fall.
Bonus: Weeping Fig
Toxic: Yes – The weeping fig is mildly toxic to humans and animals.
Although this houseplant makes our list of top air purifiers, the same can’t be said for easy care. Weeping figs are extremely temperamental. Once they’ve settled in a spot, they don’t like to be moved to a new location. Changing their environment, even just a little, will likely result in the leaves turning yellow and dropping.
Anxious owners often panic and overcompensate with extra water, which only causes the plant to deteriorate faster. It likes to dry out between waterings. Weeping figs will usually recover within a few weeks of being moved. They prefer bright but indirect light, and they aren’t tolerant of cold drafts, dry heat, or sudden temperature drops.
Figs are also highly susceptible to aphids and should be checked regularly. This plant is not for beginners, but if you’ve got a green thumb, it can be a beautiful and helpful addition to your home.
House Plant Box - $44.99
How many of these plants do you have in your home? Share in the comments!
Award-winning fantasy author, freelance writer, spiritual explorer, and sole founder of Green Witch Lunar Witch. She created her first website in 2016 and published her first novel two years later. Sara spends most of her time writing, creating, and daydreaming.