7 houseplants for better indoor air quality

It’s long been known that keeping indoor plants in our home can give us better air quality. However the question is how many plants do we need to nurture to really reap the benefits of cleaner air and have a positive impact on our health?

Pot plants to make a positive impact on indoor air quality

What is it exactly that can affect the air quality inside our homes? Even if we have moved into a brand new house, there could still culprits such as particles from household cleaners, aerosol substances, builiding materials, paintwork and unseen mold floating around our everyday environment, our homes. In short, we are all exposed to some degree of poor quality, dry air.

It is possible that we see this in head aches, tiredness and sort throats, for example. Multiple studies suggest that there are many psychological benefits of bringing houseplants into our home, such as reducing stress. In addition, there are positive effects on our physical well being such as an improvement in respiratory issues or lowering blood pressure.

So in addition to ensuring that we have good ventilation in our homes through vents, opening a window, and perhaps using air purifying, dehumidifiers or fans to increase the quality of our indoor air, it also makes sense that we want to fill our homes with as many air-cleaning plants as we can.

With the move to more people working from home than ever before, a good internal environment seems vital to our long term good health.

Your house plant is your eco-system

Each of your house plants has it’s own natural mini ekosystem. The micro-enviornment around leafs and roots is essential to its survival. The soil itself provides the nutrients needed by the root system. The essential biochemical process of photosynthesis requires sunlight so make sure your plants are placed in rooms with the best natural light.

This light energy is transformed into chemical energy. Water, carbon dioxide and minerals are converted into energy-rich organic compounds and oxygen. Which is good news for us and our health.

What are the best indoor plants to improve indoor air quality?

Try improving your indoor environment through choosing from these 7 plants that that purify the air in your home.

Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)

Ficus is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs and vines. Figs are native to warm temperate and tropical regions throughout the world.

The ficus trees that we have indoors never flower but produce attractive foliage with textures ranging from rough to smooth and colors ranging from light to dark. The weeping fig is among the most popular houseplants because of their drought tolerance and abundant foliage. And for the face that they go a long way to improve our indoor air quality.

Weeping figs grow well indoors when provided with bright indirect or artificial lighting through grow lamps.

When watering, weeping figs need to be watered thoroughly until the water runs out the holes in the bottom of the pot. Then, they need to dry out before watering again. Ficus trees should not sit in stagnant water.

You should fertilize your fig tree two or three times a year with slow-release fertilizer pellets according to the manufacturer’s directions. Fertilizing more often than the recommended frequency isn’t necessary and can actually harm your fig tree.

During the winter, ficus trees are especially prone to spider mites or leaf miners. Check your ficus occassionally for telltale signs and treat as soon as possible.

Gerberas (Gerbera Jamesonii)

Gerber daisies, or Gerberas, are great indoor plants that need lots of sun, but not too much heat. Choose a very light space but not right in the window where the sun can easily scorch it. The prefer temperatures between 16C/61F and 23C/73F.

They need water at least once a week, so place your Gerberas in an area where you won’t forget them and don’t let them dry out – but they can’t handle soggy conditions either. Get some tips on watering techniques here. Gerberas need to be kept away from drafty areas because cold will cause them to drop their petals.

Gerberas prefer slightly acidic soil with an ideal pH level between 6 and 7. You can find more information on the importance of pH level in your soil and how to test and fix it here on our website.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums are a traditional favorite, and offer excellent air purification. Really they are an autumn flowing plant but you can buy them all year round for your home indoors.

Originating in China, Chrysanthemums are known for their colorful, vibrant blooms in a wide variety of colors. They are easy to care for, making them superb indoor plants.

Chrysanthemum potting soil must be rich and loose to allow roots to grow freely. Make sure your plants have a combination of sufficient light to produce more flowers, and humidity to thrive. Regularly mist chrysanthemums with water. Do not allow chrysanthemum plants to remain dry over long periods of time, water regularly – every other week.

Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum wallisii)

Peace Lilies make excellent pot plants and improve our indoor air quality. They are easy to care for, do not need too much watering – but as they originate in warm and humid climates we recommend you do mist them frequently.

If your plant starts to dry and and wilt it will pop right back up again with some water. These plants thrive indoors if you avoid direct sun – place your peace lily on a table away from the window in a light room.

Use a liquid feed every other week during the spring and summer to help maintain plant health.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

English Ivy plants are a great plant as they grow quickly, trail attractively over shelving, and can be trained to grow over shaped wire supports as topiary. They are also great air cleaners.

Water gently twice a week during the summer months, and just once a week in the winter. Repot into a larger pot as it grows, or the root will run out of space and risk becoming pot-bound.

To easily to propogate ivy to get more plants. Take some cuttings from your plant so that you have at least two healthy leaves at the top of the cutting. Place in a pot with good quality potting soil and water. Place a plastic bag over the top and put in a sunny corner. When you start to see new shoots appear on the stem you can remove the plastic.

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata)

Dracaena are evergreens and do well as house plants. They are good for our indoor environment but can grow large so ensure the container is large enough for the root system.

Only keep dracaena plants if you do not have pets at home as the plant is poisonous to them.

Keep the soil moist but not wet, and place in a sunny position without direct sunlight or the leaves may scorch. Wipe the glossy leaves occassionally with a damp cloth to keep the dust-free.

Mother-in-Law’s Tonque (Sansevieria Trifasciata)

Otherwise known as a snake plant, this common house plant is popular for being low maintenance. An evergreen, the dark green leaves are marked with pale greens marbling.

It never needs pruning, and will grow to over a meter in height if probably cared for. Avoid harsh sun rays through a window and place in a light room away from direct sunlight.

If you notice it is becoming pot bound, divide the root clump and replant using fresh soil into 2 pots. Mix in a little new compost and water well, letting excess water drain out of the bottom holes of the pot.

Bamboo Palm (Dypsis lutescens)

Also know as Areca Palm, this is probably the most lively and gracious of indoor plants. They can easily grow to 1.5 meters tall when cared for. They are also excellent for your home environment.

Use a liquid feed once a week during spring and summer, and water 3 times a week. In the winter, watering once a week is enough. Do not stand in direct sunlight or the leaves may scorch but they certainly need a warm sunny room.

If the leaves turn brown, move the plant out of direct sunlight. Mist frequently to maintain a humid atmosphere around the plant.

Allergies and pets

As with all house plants do take care if you suffer from allergies or have indoor pets. Some plants can be a cause of allergic reactions and also be poisonous to animals. Check with your local nurseries or do your research before you buy.

Meet the author: Mattias is an experienced gardener spending most of his free time on his knees among herbs, plants and garden vegetables. For the past two years he has been sharing gardening projects and how-to tutorials on the NordicLavender website and YouTube channel.