House Plants and Indoor Air Quality

House Plants and Indoor Air Quality

Can I use house plants to improve my home's indoor air quality?

Asked by Tom Neff
Fishers, IN

There is data and research on the value of outdoor plantings and the positive effect on air quality through natural transpiration. It would seem that the same would be true of indoor plants, if well maintained, both in terms of overall humidity levels, and in terms of potential CO2 reduction and biofiltration.


Answered by Richard Heller

NASA did a study in conjunction with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA, now PLANET, the Professional Landcare Network) that showed that yes,

  • indoor plants not only absorb CO2 and release oxygen, but they also
  • scrub the air of pollutants commonly found indoors from our carpeting, paints, and cleaning products.

Common household products can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), gases that pollute indoor air. Paint, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, glues and adhesives all contain VOCs. Breathing these compounds causes symptoms that range from allergic reactions to respiratory tract irritation to more serious conditions like cancer.

There are now paints, carpeting products, and indoor cleaners that have low or no VOCs. Regardless, NASA found that a house plant for every 50 feet will help reduce VOCs and improve home air quality.

The top air scrubbers found by NASA are listed below (this plant list came from

  • Bamboo palm, Chamaedorea seifritzii
  • Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema modestum
  • English ivy, Hedera helix
  • Gerbera daisy, Gerbera jamesonii
  • Janet Craig, Dracaena "Janet Craig"
  • Marginata, Dracaena marginata
  • Mass cane/Corn plant, Dracaena massangeana
  • Mother-in-Law's Tongue, Sansevieria laurentii
  • Pot mum, Chrysantheium morifolium
  • Peace lily, Spathiphyllum
  • Warneckii, Dracaena "Warneckii"

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