The Best Plants for Clean Indoor Air

The Best Plants for Clean Indoor Air


The air in your home has the potential to be more polluted than the air you breathe outdoors. That’s a scary sounding fact, but luckily there are a number of ways you can improve indoor air quality without investing in pricey air purifiers. One of the easiest ways to help to improve your overall air quality is with plants.

Plants already act as Earth’s very own air purifiers. Most of the Earth’s surface is covered with vegetation that helps to supply the oxygen we need to breathe. But while these plants are supplying oxygen, they are also helping to filter pollutants out of the air. You can bring this same process into your own home, and allow indoor plants to naturally remove some of the stuff that makes indoor air not-so-fresh.

Unfortunately, not all of us were born with green thumbs. Ok, let’s be honest – some of us couldn’t manage to keep an air plant alive. So how can you benefit from indoor plants without killing them? The key is to find plants that work in your home and with your schedule. Don’t get plants that require excessive amounts of tender loving care – focus instead on low-maintenance plants that work with the amount of light present in your environment.


For bright light:

Snake Plant
Light: Prefers bright light, but will survive in darker conditions
Toxic to Pets: Yes

The snake plant is one of the easiest plants you can grow in your home. Set it in or near a nice sunny window, and just make sure it’s watered every once in awhile. The snake plant actually enjoys drier soil, so don’t worry if you forget to water it after a couple of days…or a week. It grows slowly, so you won’t have to worry about pruning. Just enjoy it’s contemporary look and the fresh air it provides.

Bamboo Palm
Light: Bright, indirect light
Toxic to Pets: No

Bamboo palms like light, but not necessarily direct sunlight. If you have a room with a lot of windows and ambient light, they will likely be very happy there. This plant requires a little more watering – it’s likes moist soil, so you just have to remember to give it a drink on a regular basis. They also like a little fertilizer, so you may want to invest in slow release fertilizer sticks that can be placed in the soil.

Pygmy Date Palm
Light: Bright light, with a mix of sun and shade
Toxic to Pets: No

Like the bamboo palm, the pygmy date palm does best with indirect bright light and moist soil. A weekly watering schedule should be fine for this plant, as is occasional use of fertilizer while it is actively growing (during the warmer months of the year). Fertilizer sticks can be used, or you can look for specialty palm fertilizer in gardening stores.

Corn Plant
Light: Gentle, indirect light
Toxic to Pets: Yes

The corn plant is a very low maintenance indoor plant with a lot of air filtering benefits. However, this plant is not a great choice for households with pets – the plant can be extremely toxic to animals. It doesn’t require a lot of watering, and letting the soil dry out is perfectly ok for the corn plant. It’s not a fan of direct sunlight, and should be placed in a room that is bright, but not necessarily flooded with natural light.

Spider Plant
Light: Bright light, but not midday sun
Toxic to Pets: No

Spider plants are among the easiest indoor plants to care for. They will tolerate a range of lighting conditions, but prefer bright, indirect light. Midday sun is too harsh for the leaves and will cause burning. They like consistently moist soil, so a regular watering routine is required, but they are forgiving if you forget to water it occasionally.


For low light:

Flamingo Lily
Light: Low light conditions
Toxic to Pets: Yes

The flamingo lily requires a little more care than some other plants on this list, but their unusual flowers will look lovely in your home (as will the clean air it provides). Flamingo lilies enjoy low light conditions – bright, direct sunlight will kill them, so this is a good choice for rooms that have a little ambient outdoor light. They like moist soil, should be fertilized once a month, and like a little spritz of water on the leaves occasionally.

Chinese Evergreen
Light: Low light, but will grow in bright light as well
Toxic to Pets: Yes

A fantastically low-maintenance plant, the Chinese evergreen is a plant that is hard to kill without completely ignoring it for long periods of time. It prefers moist soil, but is drought tolerant; don’t worry if you forget to water it from time to time. No fertilizer is required for this hardy indoor grower! It is very toxic to pets, however, so you may not want this option in a household with pets.

Peace Lily
Light: Low light conditions
Toxic to Pets: Yes

A bit higher maintenance, the peace lily likes consistently moist soil, but is forgiving if not watered on a regular basis. The leaves will begin to droop when it needs a good watering, so watch for this plant to tell you when it’s thirsty. It likes higher humidity and warmth, so this may be a good option for bathrooms, where it can get some extra moisture from showers. It is a low-light plant only – direct sunlight will kill it.

Dragon Tree
Light: Light shade
Toxic to Pets: Yes

Dragon trees enjoy a bit of shade, so they do well next to north facing windows. If the light is too bright, their leaves will begin to burn, so find a new spot for your plant. They like evenly moist soil, high humidity (so give them a spritz of water every once in a while), and regular feeding during warmer months. It’s a little high maintenance, but fine for most people new to indoor plants.

Parlor Palm
Light: Low light, but is ok with early morning or late afternoon sun
Toxic to Pets: No

A pet-friendly pet, the parlor palm likes low light conditions, but will not tolerate a complete absence of light (they do need something to help with photosynthesis, after all). This plant likes to dry out between waterings, so make sure the soil is dry before adding more moisture. It’s forgiving if you forget to water it. It’s fine with most humidity levels, but start spraying them with water if you notice any mites on the leaves.