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Top 5 Plants That Clean Air Naturally

written by: Nicky LaMarco•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/31/2009

There are a number of chemicals in the air of our households and environments that can be detrimental to our well being, however, certain varieties of plants do prosper and grow by using these chemicals and removing them from the air.

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    The common chemicals absorbed by these plants include formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide. In controlled environments, NASA and the ALCA (Associated Landscapers of America) estimated that one six-inch plant per every one hundred square feet is needed to efficiently and effectively purify household air. Depending on the size of most homes, this can average between one to two plants per room. It is also important to remember that these types of plants are most effective at purifying the air when kept very healthy.

    In the study performed by NASA and the ALCA it was found that spider plant, philodendron, and the golden pothos were the best at removing formaldehyde molecules from enclosed environments. The plants with blooming flowers, such as chrysanthemums and gerbera daisies and were found to be most effective at removing benzene.

    The five most popular clean-air plants, chosen also for their fairly easy care, are listed below.

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    Peace Lily

    The Peace Lily or Spathiphyllum requires bright light and heavy water, but can certainly be considered a houseplant. This plant is easily recognized by its long green leaves and white, half cup-shaped blooms. All gardeners cite specifically that Peace Lilies are very easy to grow and are recommended for those individuals with a less than green thumb. Even though it is recommended that the plant be located in areas of bright light, it will also thrive in lower lighted areas, though, with fewer blooms. Peace Lilies do not require any expert care other than water, although the soil should be allowed to dry between watering, and should not be placed in direct sunlight. If leaves begin to yellow, the plant is receiving too much sun and should be moved to an area with a bit less light. If leaves begin to droop, the plant needs water. Remove any brown or yellow leaves or blooms.

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    Bamboo Palm

    The Bamboo Palm otherwise know as Chamaedorea seifrizii or Reed Palm is another easy to care for plant that works well in the home. This type of plant prefers indirect, bright light. It is also important not to let the Bamboo Palm soil get completely dry. However, do not constantly soak soil or leave drainage pans sitting in water, as this can damage the roots of the palm. It is often recommended that caregivers water the palm from the top. When the plant is overwater, the tips of leaves may turn yellow and fall off, or the newest leaves may grow out very pale, initially. Under watering, however will cause the palm to turn brown, and new growth will turn brown as well. Unfortunately mites are know to attack this plant, however the mites can be fought by cleaning the foliage of the plan with a solution that includes soap. Additionally the palm should be regularly pruned for consistent, full growth.

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    English Ivy

    The English ivy is vine-like in nature and prefers partial to full shade for growth that will grow year round. This plant is not too finicky about watering, simply check the top of soil for dryness. When the soil becomes dry, it is time to water again. Be prepared indoors for the growth of this plant, as it prefers to climb, rather than simply grow to fill a pot. The ivy does prefer a consistent temperature, out of both direct drafts or extreme heat. It may be necessary to cut back some of the stems in the spring, after the typically winter thinning. The plant will quickly fill back in after a spring trimming.

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    Shortened from the full name Chrysanthemum, the hardy mum is one that blooms in fall. Because the growth and blooming of the mum depends on the length of the day, it begins to bloom in full color in the fall. These plants must be watered regularly; even soaking the plant until the water is seen coming out of the holes in the pot. The soil in the pot should never be allowed to dry, as this will kill the plant. Mums love the full light, so it better to keep the plant in areas with full and direct sunlight. Do not locate the plant near synthetic light sources, especially night lights, as the will damage the plant’s blooming cycle.

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    Gerbera Daisies

    These perky flowers come in a variety of colors and require care similar to the mums. It grows best when kept in a relatively small container. Gerbera daisies prefer full sun and bright light for the majority of the day. It is important to always keep the plant slightly moist, however intense moisture can result in the roots rotting. The plant can be fed a fertilizer mixture every few weeks, although it is not necessary for flowering. When grown indoors, in a climate controlled environment, gerbera daisies will bloom year round. When leaves and blooms wither an brown, simply remove them for consistent plant growth.