By Assia Mortensen
Believe it or not, NASA’s space program has led the way to important discoveries about the role of keeping houseplants indoors.
Over several decades, NASA has been researching methods of cleansing the atmosphere in future space stations to keep them fit for human habitation over many years. They’ve found that many common houseplants help fight pollution indoors.
Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as part of the photosynthetic process. But now, researchers have found many houseplants absorb benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, as well.
According to the NASA studies, the following plants clean indoor air very well.
Chlorophytum comosum spider plant
Dracaena deremensis `Janet Craig’ Janet Craig dracaena
Dracaena deremensis `Warneckii’ Warneck dracaena
Dracaena marginata red-edged dracaena
Dracaena fragrans `Massangeana’ cornstalk dracaena
Epipiremnum aureum golden pothos
Ficus benjamina weeping fig
Hedera helix English ivy
Philodendron domesticum elephant ear philodendron
Sansevieria trifasciata snake plant
Spathiphyllum `Mauna Loa’ peace lily
NASA’s recommendation is that you use one good-sized houseplant in a 6 to 8-inch diameter container, per each 100 square feet of your room. This means you will need 15 to 18 large plants to improve air quality in an average 1,800 square foot house.
Be sure to keep your plants in filtered sunlight and rich soil, unless otherwise indicated. Water your indoor plants with filtered water for the best growth. The more vigorously the plants grow, the better they will purify your air.
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Brown, D.; Houseplants Help Clean Indoor Air; University of Minnesota Extension; Accessed June 27, 2012.
Types of Houseplants that Clean Indoor Air; Sustainable Baby Steps; Accessed June 27, 2012.
Plants Clean Air for Indoor and Outdoor Environments; NASA Spinoff; Accessed June 27, 2012.