Econundrum: 5 Houseplants That Clean Your Air

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Anyone who’s tried to decorate an apartment on a budget knows that houseplants are great: They’re cheap. You can buy ’em at the supermarket. And many are remarkably independent. Plop a philodendron down basically anywhere, and voila: instant hominess.

Another houseplant plus: They can clean your air. A team of horticulturists at the University of Georgia recently tested 28 common houseplants to see how well they removed volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—noxious chemicals found in paints, glues, cleaners, and other things around the home—from indoor air. They found that most of the plants tested filtered at least some of the chemicals. The plants themselves do some of the work through photosynthesis, but their soil helps, too, says Bodie Pennisi, a University of Georgia horticulture professor who was involved with the study. “During the day the plant does it; during the night‚ tiny soil organisms remove gases when the plant is not as active.”

The five species listed below were the all-around top scorers; they excelled at removing all the chemicals tested.

1. English Ivy English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Great for: a-Pinene (found in wood cleaners)
2. Purple Heart Plant Purple Heart Plant (Tradescantia pallida)
Great for:
toluene (found in kerosene, heating oil, paints, and lacquers)
3. Asparagus Fern Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus)
Great for: a-Pinene (found in wood cleaners)
4. Wax Plant Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa)
Great for: octane (found in paint, adhesives, and building materials)
5. Purple Waffle Purple Waffle (Hemigraphis alternata)
Great for:
benzene (found in glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents, and cigarette smoke); trichloroethylene (also known as TCE; found in adhesives, paint removers, and spot removers)

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate