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Worried About Air Quality? These Plants Can Help

Indoor air quality can be affected by a variety of factors. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint, chemicals in cleaners, and the fumes from passing traffic can all affect the air quality in our homes (or work environments). While an air purifier can help eradicate some of the junk in the air, there’s a more natural solution…

Plants, which create oxygen through photosynthesis, also do a great job of removing pollutants from the air through that same process. Some plants, however, do this better than others. In this post, we’re going to share some of the best plants for air quality—the plants that help take the common air pollutants out of our living and working spaces while also adding natural beauty.

The Best Plants for Air Quality

During photosynthesis, as plants take in carbon dioxide, they also take in other pollutants in the air. Scientists have found that the plants that do this most effectively tend to be ones with large, broad leaves. NASA’s 1989 study, which was aimed at reducing air pollutants in enclosed spaces such as a space shuttle, found many plants that did a great job of removing common pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, trichloroethylene, and ammonia.

Before delving into the best plants for air quality, a note: Whichever plant you choose, make sure to check what type of sunlight it needs. Find a spot in your home or office that can help deliver the full sun, partial sun, or shade that your plant requires so that it can live a long, healthy life.

Also, be sure to note the care requirements so you can select a plant that matches your ability to care for it. For example, office workers will benefit from plants that require less care since they generally aren’t around on the weekends and may sometimes forget to water their plants.

Flowering Plants

Flowering plants aren’t just about lovely greenery, they help add a dash of color, too! These flowering plants have been shown to effectively remove pollutants, all while looking lovely.


One of the top plants for purifying air comes in a variety of colors—the chrysanthemum, or the mum. Chrysanthemum morifolium should receive plenty of sun and be watered when the soil feels dry. Chrysanthemums come in a variety of colors, so feel free to coordinate with your decor! Mums can help remove formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and ammonia.

Gerbera Daisy

Add a boost of color to any room with a Gerber Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii). These lovely, bright flowers won’t just help remove some pollutants, they’ll make you smile too. Gerbera daisies prefer six hours of direct sunlight a day, so find them a nice spot by a window where they can drink up sunlight.

Peace Lily

There’s something just classically beautiful about a Peace Lily, and it’s not just its calming name. These flowering, broad-leafed plants prefer shady spots, making them great for indoors. They enjoy moist soil and do their best to remove formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and ammonia from the air.

Non-Flowering Plants

Plants that don’t flower (in the traditional sense) are often more resilient than flowering plants and may fare better in indoor environments where they may get overlooked, such as busy workplaces.


A ficus, like Ficus elastica  (Rubber plant), is great for indoor spaces like offices. They enjoy dim lighting and don’t mind the AC. Rubber plants prefer dry soil and will require intermittent watering. The Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) is another great ficus that can thrive indoors while removing formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and benzene for the environment. (And just so you’ll get it right on your next trivia night, ‘fici’ is the plural form of ‘ficus.’) These plants can grow to be up to ten feet tall and would look wonderful in reception areas.

Boston Fern

Nephrolepis exaltata v. Bostoniensis—the Boston fern—may be best suited for a home environment unless someone in your workplace is willing to mist it weekly. A fan of indirect light, Boston Ferns are pretty easy to care for and can help remove formaldehyde and xylene from your indoor space. This would be a fun plant to place in a tower planter or an urn planter to make a statement piece.

Spider Plants

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum) like bright but indirect sunlight. Spider plants are popular house and office plants because they’re resilient and don’t mind being occasionally forgotten. For a striking effect, place your spider plant in a hanging planter by a window that receives indirect light. Spider plants, which can survive intermittent watering, also work well in office spaces. Plus, the little spider offshoots can be propagated to make new plants.

Snake Plant

The Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is great for offices as it is a fan of drier conditions and is a resilient plant. It’s leaves grow upward and often feature yellow variegation, giving it a distinctive look. Find a nice spot where it can get occasional sun and check the dirt once a week. Water when dry.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera doesn’t just help soothe a sunburn, the oil inside its leaves is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. In addition to its pollutant busting powers, it can help you treat minor cuts. When shopping for aloe, be sure to check the roots as plants that are overwatered will suffer from root rot. At home, ensure your aloe is draining properly. Aloe vera, which doesn’t enjoy being watered frequently, also makes a great office plant.

Plants aren’t just great for air quality, they can help lift your mood too. Plants like Rosemary and Lemon Balm can help promote productivity while adding a nice scent to the air. While not a part of the NASA study, they also make great indoor plants.

Looking for some lovely plants to help decorate your indoor spaces? Stop by Multiflora Greenhouses to see what we have on hand! Plus, find the perfect gardening accessories for your new plant, too!

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