House plants have been shown to have many benefits, including boosting your health and wellbeing while also significantly improving indoor air quality.
Whether adding plants to your office space or home, they are not just beautiful, but can also aid in the removal of pollutants, such as carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen dioxide by as much as 20 per cent, according to recent research led by the University of Birmingham in the UK in partnership with the Royal Horticultural Society. This is especially beneficial for small or poorly ventilated rooms, or properties located near to busy roads.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a significant pollutant in both outdoor and indoor environments with exposure linked to serious respiratory illnesses, decreased lung function and airway inflammation.
Further research into their benefits has found that house plants are more effective (and cost effective) in removing pollutants from the air when they are positioned in brighter and sunnier spots. The more house plants, the better, but which should you choose?
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii)
With lush green leaves and striking white blooms, the Peace Lily was one of the first house plants to be celebrated for its air purifying benefits. The pioneering 1989 NASA Clean Air study found that in a contained environment – like a spacecraft! – the Peace Lily helped naturally clean the air. The Peace Lily is a low maintenance house plant and can be grown happily in a small to medium pot.
Dragon Tree (Dracaena fragrans)
This evergreen, tropical shrub is perfect for a larger room, with its tree-like structure. It enjoys a sunny position, such as close to a window or balcony. Choose a medium or large pot and it can grow to nearly three metres in height. A recent study monitored the Dragon Tree’s ability to remove nitrogen dioxide from the air and suggested it is a great choice for a pollutant-reducing house plant.
Fern Arum (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
With lots of glossy foliage, the Fern Arum house plant is brilliant at improving the air quality of your office or home. It has evergreen leaves and may also produce white flowers and berries. This medium-sized house plant can reach one metre tall and prefers a shaded position. The Fern Arum has also been tested specifically for its benefits in reducing levels of nitrogen dioxide from the air.
Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider Plants are great fun and look lovely in a hanging or macramé pot, which allows them to produce ‘baby’ spider plants which dangle over the container’s edges. These ‘babies’ can easily be propagated to provide more house plants to share and enjoy. Spider Plants have a range of appearances, with pretty green or variegated leaves. They are recommended by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) for helping to remove VOCs from the air.
Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata)
The Mother-in-law’s Tongue is a low maintenance house plant, recommended by the RHS for its air purifying benefits. This is a great choice if you are prone to killing your house plants! It enjoys a sunny or partially shaded position, and, with occasional watering, it will look after itself. The Mother-in-law’s Tongue has tall, succulent leaves and may also produce small, cream flowers.
Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)
The Rubber Plant is a beautiful, evergreen house plant which slowly grows to tree-sized, reaching up to four metres. It has a mass of large, glossy leaves, which help make it effective in cleaning your home’s air. It enjoys a sunny position and is ideal for a balcony or living room window. Choose the Rubber Plant for a low maintenance, air purifying house plant which creates a tropical atmosphere.
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’)
Ferns naturally grow in woodlands, so this plant enjoys a shady but humid position in your home. The Boston Fern will grow well in the corner of a room, such as a bathroom – but remember to keep it away from the direct flow of air conditioning. The key to happy ferns is weekly misting with a spray bottle of water to replicate their natural environment. The pretty Boston Fern has delicate fronds which provide year-round foliage and great air cleaning properties.
Jade Plant (Crassula ovata)
This succulent shrub has glossy leaves and can bloom with small white or pink flowers. It is slow-growing and a low-maintenance house plant option which is happy in a small or medium sized pot. It enjoys a sunny position, such as near a window, and has been found by the RHS to help reduce VOCs. The Jade Plant is also sometimes known as the Friendship Plant – a name it has earned because it can easily be propagated from its leaves, creating new plants to share with frie