Flower Facts Just Because Plants

Air Purifying Plants and Flowers

plant with meter to measure air quality

Houseplants improve the indoor aesthetic, can help reduce stress, and can help improve your mood, but did you know there are plants that improve indoor air quality also? According to a time-tested study of indoor air pollution by NASA in 1989[1], interior landscape plants can significantly reduce the number of organic chemicals present indoors.

The reason why you see so many of the same kinds of plants in offices like ivy, dragon trees, and smaller palms is that they naturally filter the air around them. Not to be confused with air plants which feed on moisture in the air, this family of helpful greenery adds to the oxygen content of the atmosphere they’re in. In some cases, these plants physically filter toxins and contaminants from the surrounding air.

Indoor Plants Fight Indoor Air Pollutants

Did you know that indoor air quality is often significantly more detrimental to human health than outdoor air? Unfortunately, many indoor spaces lack proper ventilation and have toxic chemicals dangerous to human health. NASA found several common indoor air pollutants were decreased using indoor plants[2]. Houseplants can ingest the toxins harmful to humans and neutralize them.

What Are Common Indoor Toxins?

  • Trichloroethylene is a toxic agent in which short-term exposure can cause dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, vomiting, and even a coma in long exposure.
  • Formaldehyde is a common chemical found in furnishings and linens that can cause swelling of the lungs, as well as irritation to the nose, throat, and mouth even in short exposure times.
  • Ammonia is a common excretion from house pets that can cause irritation of the eyes and throat, as well as coughing in short-term exposure.
  • Xylene can cause dizziness, confusion, damage to the liver and kidney, as well as irritation in the mouth and throat.
  • Benzene can cause dizziness, headaches, confusion, increased heart rate, and unconsciousness even in short-term exposures.

Best Indoor Plants for Air Quality

To help rid your home of indoor air pollutants, you can use common houseplants. Here are a few of the most popular for ridding the home of harmful toxins.

Artisan Florist’s Chrysanthemum

Also known as chrysanthemum morifolium, is well-known for its ability to decrease the concentration of toxic agents including trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia from indoor air. These beautiful flowers are bright, cheery, and bring happiness to any space.

Barberton Daisy

Also known as gerbera jamesonii, can decrease the amount of trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, and xylene from indoor spaces. This classic flower is lighthearted and cheery.

Flamingo Lily

Also known as anthurium andraeanum, can reduce the concentration of formaldehyde, xylene, and ammonia from your indoor space. This bright flower makes a colorful addition to any room.

Peace Lily

Also known as Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’ is a common holiday gift and can reduce indoor air pollutants including trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia. This classic lily isn’t pet-friendly, but it is perfect for bringing a little green and white indoors.

Snake Plant

Also called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (no offense to the mother-in-laws out there). We assume the secondary name refers to its ability to clear the air. Either way, snake plants are easy to take care of and add to the overall atmosphere in both appearance and air quality.

Chinese Evergreen

For centuries Chinese evergreens were meant to bring people luck. You may still get lucky if these little air purifiers keep you breathing easy. Chinese evergreens are a perfect plant gift for bosses or co-workers.

Bamboo Palm

Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s not a true palm tree and generally won’t grow super tall in an indoor pot. It’s known to be a natural humidifier which may help with dry sniffles or allergy symptoms. The study found that this ornamental plant may remove toxins like formaldehyde from the air.

English Ivy

English Ivy is one of the most well-known varieties of ivy as well as the specific kind used in the study. Most ivy varieties are efficient at filtering air. Big bonus, they don’t need much water, attention or light, making ivy the best low-maintenance gift after succulents.


You’ve seen them in offices and businesses all over the world, and their natural air filtering ability explains why this simple tree is everywhere. It does not explain why it’s so hard to tell a real from a fake one.

Gerbera Daisy

Popular as a colorful addition to a bouquet, gerbera daisies are known to pull toxins and carbon dioxide from the air. It is possible to create a potted plant from a cutting, which is the best way to get the air cleaning benefits.

Chrysanthemums (Pot Mum)

Not just another pretty face, growing mums may also remove pollutants from the air like smoke and other impurities. Cut flowers aren’t likely to have the same effect, but you can always try to plant them in a small pot. Though, mums obviously have their own pollen pitfalls and allergens.

Corn Cane/ Massangeana Cane

Like some of us who prefer cute coat weather, the corn plant doesn’t need or like too much sun. In fact, they stay pretty happy as long as you keep their soil damp. Mature corn plants may produce sweet-smelling pink or purple flowers, adding a little extra perk to their air cleaning benefits. The tropical dracaena family of air filtering plants include the Dragon Tree, Janet Craig and Warneckei.

How Many Indoor Plants Do I need to Improve Air Quality?

According to the research, you should have at least one plant for every 100 square feet in your indoor space, whether you’re looking to freshen up a residential or office space. Doing so could not only help your physical health but could also improve your mental health as well. With so many air-filtering plants to choose from, finding the right one for your space, style, and intended message is a simple task.

Maintaining indoor plants for air quality is just one of the reasons you might consider greening your thumb. According to some studies, indoor house plants have also been shown to improve well-being, lower levels of anxiety, improve job satisfaction, and improve attentiveness. While the science may not be conclusive about our symbiosis nature with our indoor house plants, one thing is clear: having plants indoors does good things for us humans. Need some help? We’ve got your back. Read more about taking care of indoor plants and which plants we think are some of the best houseplants.

Living Green

Depending on your local climate and comfort with large indoor plant pots, some urban horticulturists are growing small amounts of greens right in their living rooms or rooftops. In fact, cities like Denver, Toronto, and San Francisco passed laws that require new buildings to include a certain amount of green space on their roofs. As more cities adopt eco-friendly policies, it’s likely the next place you live will have greenspace somewhere above you.

In addition to their ability to improve indoor air quality, indoor house plants brighten up a room, improve your mood, and send a message of caring and kindness. At The Bouqs Company, we’ve got your flower and houseplant needs covered.


[1] Wolverton, B. C., Douglas, Willard L., Bounds, Keith. (1989). NASA Technical Memorandum. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19930072988

[2] Kaplan, Jonathan S. Reviewed by: Schrader, Jessica. (2009). Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/urban-mindfulness/200903/plants-make-you-feel-better

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