Air purifying indoor plants: the top 18 list

For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth. (Sanskrit proverb)

Air purifying indoor plants are more than just pretty faces. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)

Add these plants to your next Garden Centre shopping list:

Spider plant (Chlorophytum elatum) – removes Formaldehyde, Xylene . Requirements: adequate light and draining. Transplant baby plants.
Peace lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’) – removes Benzene, Carbon Monoxide, Formaldehyde, Trichloroethylene, Xylene . Requirements: Moist, well-draining soil and good light.
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde. Requirements: Low light and humidity (or mist sprays on the leaves).
Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene. Requirements: Moist, but well-drained soil. Good light.
Variegated snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene. Requirements: Care should be taken with watering. Less is more. Don’t water more than once a month during winter, and only every 2 weeks during summer. * This is one of the very best air purifying indoor plants for bedrooms as it also produces a lot of oxygen during the night.
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron cordatum) – removes Formaldehyde. Requirements: Humidity.
Selloum philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum) – removes Formaldehyde. Requirements: Bright, but indirect light.
Elephant ear philodendron (Philodendron domesticum) – removes Formaldehyde. Requirements: Good light and moist growing conditions with well-draining soil and allowing the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
Red-edged dracaena (Dracaena marginata) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene. Provide enough growing room and light.
Cornstalk dracaena (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene. Requirements: Very soft, indirect light and less water than the average house plant.
Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) – removes Formaldehyde, Benzene, Trichloroethylene. Requirements: Provide enough light minus draft or direct sunlight and regular well-draining watering.
Barberton daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene. Requirements: Plenty of natural light and keep the soil moist but well-drained.
Florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene, Amonia. Requirements: Good light and air-flow, water drainage and moist soil.
Aloe vera (Aloe vera) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde. Requirements: Do not over water and place plant in a sunny spot.

Air purifying indoor plants like the Aloe Vera has additional topical health benefits.


Janet Craig (Dracaena deremensis “Janet Craig”) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene. Requirements: Moderately moist soil, very good drainage and soil that does not receive more than an annual application of fertilizer.
Warneckei (Dracaena deremensis “Warneckei”) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene. Requirements: Moist but well-draining soil. Never over-water.
Banana (Musa oriana) – removes Formaldehyde
(Depending on where you live, some of these plants may not readily available as they are listed as invader species in non-indigenous terms). Requirements: Bright light, rich and moist soil.

English ivy (Hedera helix) – removes Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene, Trichloroethylene. Requirements: Generous watering and a sunny spot.

Pineapple Plants – as revealed by NASA, do not remove toxins from the air, but due to their night-time oxygen production and improvement to air quality, these plants can actually put an end to snoring. Requirements: Very little water and mild to warm temperatures.

Air purifying indoor plants remove what toxins and why?

Removes what? Trichloroethylene from paint, varnish, lacquers and printing inks, glue and paint removers.
Why: Symptoms include headaches and nausea or vomiting followed by drowsiness and in extreme cases coma.

Removes what? Formaldehyde from waxed paper, tissues or paper towels, paper bags, plywood and synthetic fabrics.
Why? Symptoms include nose, mouth and throat irritation, and in severe cases, possible swelling of the larynx and lungs.

Removes what? Benzene from plastics and cleaning products, wax, resins and glue, lubricants, tobacco smoke and drugs.
Why? Symptoms include irritation to eyes, sleepiness or dizziness, confusion, headache, increase in heart rate, and in some severe cases, unconsciousness.

Removes what? Xylene from tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust pollution, rubber and leather.
Why? Symptoms include irritation to mouth and throat, headaches and confusion, heart challenges, liver and kidney damage or even coma.

Removes what? Ammonia from floor waxes, window cleaners and fertilizers.
Why? Symptoms include: eye and throat irritation and coughing.

Chlorophytum comosum, Spider plant

Chlorophytum comosum, Spider plant

Indigenous to South Africa; 50cm
Requirements: regular watering during growing season, and less during winter. Potting mixtures of soil-based and perlite.Medium-light-intensity.
Propagate from layering.

The spider plant is an easy-to-grow subject with soft, green and cream, arching rosettes and summer flowers. These small blooms are star-shaped and white.
C. comosum ‘Variegata’ is the popular, trailing Hen and Chicks plant which has numerous plantlets on the stolons’ ends.

It is drought-tolerant and quite disease- and pest-free. It easily propagates by means of growing succulent roots from plantlets on the spreading flower stems and prefers filtered sunlight.

Other common names of the perennial plant include:

Airplane plant, St. Bernard’s lily, spider ivy, ribbon plant, and hen and chickens.