If you’re like most people I know, you’re an apartment dweller. While apartment living can be a fun and convenient way to live in or near a city, it isn’t ideal for easy access to trees and fresh air. Don’t get me wrong–there’s no greater pleasure in life than spending days in my bath robe watching Lord of the Rings and baking cookies–but allowing enough time outside is vital for a healthy mind and soul. Nature is nourishing. According to the EPA, Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors. Even more shocking, air pollutants are 2 to 5 times higher indoors than out. (1)
One of the quickest and most satisfying ways to liven up an apartment (literally) is to add plants to your decor. Not only do plants bring beauty and the feeling of nature to your home, they also provide cleaner air by filtering out toxins.
NASA has lead the way in research on air filtering plants in order to create more habitable living quarters on space stations. Luckily for us, this information applies to our own habitats on Earth. All plants have some purification properties, however some plants are particularly superb at removing the most common household toxins: benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene.
Here are 5 of my favorite no-fuss house plants that allow people with even the blackest thumbs to grow fresh air.
My Favorite 5 No-Fuss House Plants
1. Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)
In addition to removing formaldehyde from the air, this hardy plant also has medicinal value. The gel inside the leaves is used to accelerate the healing of burns, has antioxidant and antibacterial properties, can be combined with other natural ingredients to make hair products and facial scrubs, and so much more!
Aloe does best in direct sunlight with well-drained soil that is dried out between watering.
2. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
This plant is a super-cleanser. It topped the charts for removing formaldehyde from the air, but also removes carbon monoxide, xylene, and toluene.
Spider Plants are happiest in a decent amount of indirect light and can withstand cooler temperatures. Spider Plants don’t enjoy too much water, as they are prone to root rot, so limit watering and allow the soil the dry out completely now and then.
3. Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
Golden Pothos is another excellent cleanser, and removes a good amount of formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and toluene from the air.
This plant does not require much water, and not much sun either. It is so easy going that it can be grown in soil or even a vase of water. It has been known as “the cubicle plant” for its ability to thrive in less than ideal conditions (like your dark, sunshine-free office). Easy!
4. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
This plant absorbs toxins, such as nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene from the air. This is one of the easiest plants you can get–it flourishes in low, indirect light is unbelievably hardy. Since it is a succulent, it stores a lot of water in the leaves for a long time. As long as the soil drains well, this plant can go weeks without watering. Another cool thing–it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, whereas most plans only do this during the day. How neat!
5. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
This low-maintenance house plant is one of my favorites! Not only does it improve the air quality in your space by filtering out formaldehyde, xylene, and toulene, it is a little tree that you can groom as you see fit. Some people keep these as bonsais, while others prefer to let them grow to their highest around 10 feet tall.
Just in case you’re curious….here’s that NASA study.