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Air-Purifying Houseplants with Mobee

Martha Stewart Living Television

Plants have long been hailed for many merits, but one of their lesser-known virtues is the ability to clean the air in our homes by removing toxins -- a fact that NASA scientists discovered about 25 years ago. Mobee Weinstein, of New York Botanical Garden, shared her favorite air-purifying houseplants, all of which are easy to grow and widely available, and can serve as inexpensive low-tech solutions to costly air filters. In addition to the following, Mobee points out that aloe plants, orchids, tulips, azaleas, cyclamen, and gerbera daisies are also good options.

Golden Pothos (Epipremnum Aureum)
A member of the Araceae family, this easy-to-grow, insect-resistant vine bears green heart-shaped leaves with gold or cream highlights. Commonly cultivated in hanging baskets or trained to climb, it grows quickly, tolerates most environments, and doesn't lose its color when placed in dark settings.

Dracaena Deremensis 'Striped'
This member of the Agavaceae family produces green leaves with white stripes that measure about 2 feet long and 2 inches wide. The plant can grow to 10 feet tall, is tolerant of low light and dry air, and is especially effective in removing benzene.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum Sp.)
Produces beautiful white spathes that unfold to reveal its flowers, peace lily blooms reliably indoors and is effective in removing alcohols, acetone, trichloroethylene, benzene, and formaldehyde.

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum 'Vittatum')
The first plant proven to remove indoor air pollutants, this member of the Liliaceae family is the most common form of spider plant. It bears green leaves with a broad cream or yellow stripe down their centers, as well as small white flowers that bloom year-round.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum 'Deborah')
With its silvery, light-green, lance-shaped leaves, this slow-growing Araceae family member has the ability to increase its toxin-removal rate with exposure. Also extremely tolerant of low light conditions (but not temperatures below 55 degrees), it blooms in late summer and early fall and can reach heights of 3 feet.

Comments (3)

  • majeral78666 22 May, 2010

    Check this site out for really airing out your house with plants

  • JasonX 24 Jan, 2009

    Personally, I find that my pets avoid my houseplants that are toxic to them. I have a mixed pot on my kitchen table that has both pet-toxic and non-toxic plants and my cat occasionally chews leaves when his cat grass is near the end of its life cycle. He always chews the non-toxic plants and avoids the toxic one though they are right next to each other. I think my cat is brilliant, of course, but I think things like this can get overblown and people can overreact to concerns.

  • justanotheramy 5 Feb, 2008

    of these plants, only the 'Spider plant' is pet-friendly -- all of the others are listed by the ASPCA as toxic, and are potentially dangerous to pets.