We all know that fresh air is vital for our good health, but what if you're stuck indoors most of the time? Heather McNicol, from interior landscaper, Urban Planters, shows how just one or two air-purifying plants can make all the difference to our wellbeing.
Fresh air is not something we get enough of in modern life, especially as most of us seem to be increasingly stuck inside for a lot of the time.
Indoor air can be stale, and thanks to modern synthetic materials and temperature regulation, it also contains pollutants and is often well below recommended humidity levels.
Synthetic furniture, paints and computers, to name but three, silently pump chemical vapours into the air, while air conditioning and heating dry the air.
This can lead to complaints such as allergic attacks, asthma, headaches and tickly coughs. This is where plants come in.
The humble plant can make all the difference to the air we breathe indoors. They work hard at cleaning our air of these toxins and releasing humidity back into the atmosphere.
In fact, there are many health benefits to being near plants. Studies have shown time and again that plants help us to:
- Stay healthy
- Have fewer headaches and coughs and feel less tired
- Have fewer allergy symptoms
- Recover faster
- Feel less stressed
- Feel happier
- Be more productive and creative
But not all plants are the same. Some like more light or heat than others, and some clean the air better (we call the most effective ones "scrubbers", a sign of how hard they work for us!).
So it is important to get the right one. To help you choose the right plant, here are our top ten plants that clean the air:
1. Bamboo Palm
Aside from its exotic good looks, it scores highly for removal of chemical vapours and for creating humidity in a room.
More good news: it is very easy to care for and is highly resistant to insect infestation.
2. Boston Fern
Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”
A mass of lush foliage helps this plant to scrub the air of toxins in a room and improve humidity.
With a bit of regular misting and watering it should thrive.
3. Kimberley Queen Fern
Another foliage-rich fern, this plant is great at removing pollutants from the air and for humidifying a room.
Like the Boston Fern, it needs regular watering.
4. Areca Palm
An elegant palm which offers everything: it releases lots of moisture into the air, removes toxins very effectively, is easy to look after and resists insect infestations well.
Its delicate fronds look good pretty much anywhere.
5. Gerbera Daisy
This gerbera sports beautiful bright flowers in orange, yellow or red. NASA tests found that this plant was particularly good at removing toxins from the air.
This plant should come indoors in the autumn, providing you with winter colour and an antidote to spending more time indoors.
6. Florist’s Mum
This plant only flowers for several weeks but while they do, they bring splashes of bright colour to a room while also removing some of the most common toxins from the air.
7. Peace Lily
Beauty in all its simplicity, the peace lily boasts strong dark green leaves and tall elegant white flowers.
Easy to care for and high-scoring for air moisture, toxin removal and insect resistance.
8. Dwarf Date Palm
One of the best palms for removing toxins, it creates a statement in a room, with its strong main trunk and long fronds which grow to about 3 feet.
9. Rubber Plant
Ficus Elastica “Robusta”
Bred for toughness, this is the plant to choose if the room doesn’t have a lot of natural light. Its architectural form makes it a designer’s favourite and its simple, large leaves look good in most places. Especially good at removing formaldehyde, one of the most common toxins found in our indoor air.
10. English Ivy
A great air scrubber and humidifier, and perhaps unsurprisingly, easy to care for.
You can use ivy in hanging baskets, as ground cover for indoor planting beds or it can be trained to stand upright around a frame.
Keep its growth in check, though!
We believe there is something here for everyone, so if you want to take an easy step towards improving your health and wellbeing, pick a plant!