Seeing through the foggy facts of plant purification
There’s a lot of information out there about air-purifying plants. We’ve filtered through the facts, so you know exactly what’s going on
Houseplants make a house a home. We can’t get enough of them, and for good reason. Proven to reduce stress and make you feel happier and healthier, they’re more than just something to water occasionally – they’re a companion everyone should have. But there’s one claim we’d like to clarify – and that’s air purification.
- It’s claimed that some houseplants can completely cleanse the air in your home
- This means ridding the air of toxins and pollutants that damage our health
- Plants do filter toxins and pollutants – but only to an extent; it’s a numbers game
- We can do lots of things, alongside owning plants, to help ourselves breathe a little easier.
Ok deep breath, let’s get into the science.
What is air purification?
In a nutshell, air purification is the happy result of photosynthesis. Plants suck carbon dioxide in through their leaves, convert it into energy to grow and exhale fresh oxygen as a by-product – nature’s purification system. Coincidently, the air sucked in contains toxins such as carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These come from car fumes, manufacturing, and household sprays etc., and most are detrimental to our health and planet. Not ideal – so, can plants help?
Do houseplants purify the air in my home?
Yes, every plant can help freshen the air in your home. But it’s all about the numbers – stick with us. Most plants suck in the bad and push out the good, each taking different VOCs (volatile organic compounds) out of the atmosphere. However, the air in our homes is constantly changing. Just when the plants get ahead, outside air rushes in through windows and doors, bringing with it pollution. With large amounts of ‘fresh’ air coming in, our plants are often outnumbered; they can’t filter the quantity of toxins quickly enough to have a meaningful impact on air quality.
It’d take hundreds of plants in each room to really alter the air quality and even then, it’s minimal. But, plants are more than purifiers – they set the mind at ease, help us relax and give us living art to admire. Any purification powers are a bonus.
Boosting plant purification
All plants will help the mission for cleaner air. The trick is finding ones that are easy to care for and likely to thrive. The happier and healthier the plant, the more good work it can do.
Here are a few tips for helping plants bust as many toxins as they can:
- Ensure your indoor jungle is bathed in sunlight, plants need lots of light to photosynthesise efficiently
- Clean leaves regularly, layers of dust can block sunlight and reduce photosynthesis
- Ensure plants have enough water to thrive, water is essential for growth and photosynthesis
- Fertilise regularly. Houseplants may not have access to essential nutrients and minerals in soil. For example, phosphorus helps develop lots of chlorophyll, an essential ingredient for photosynthesis.
So, where should you start? Snake plants such as Susie, Zey and Apollo are a great choice, as well as trailing ivy like Effy and Rapunzel. These guys aren't sensitive if you forget to water now and then. If it’s a statement you’re after, Pippa the peace lily is a complete stunner with vibrant foliage and she’ll bounce back if you forget to water her.
What else can I do to clean the air?
Purifying the air inside takes some big picture thinking. But, like our plants, we can all do our bit, starting with grabbing our trainers. Reducing pollution outside means walking or cycling more often, rather than defaulting to the car. We can also support tree planting and carbon offsetting initiatives, and switch to green energy suppliers. Small changes have a big impact when it comes to air quality.
Our take on air purification – some plants are better than no plants. The more, the merrier. They’ll try to clean up our mess and look gorgeous doing it, but don’t expect them to do it all.