More than a hundred plants can absorb air pollutants through their leaves. They filter them, digest them via their roots and transform them. This is nature’s magic!
1. Aloe vera
This is the plant with multiple virtues: it limits the proliferation of dust mites and eliminates formaldehyde – a volatile carcinogenic compound that is one of the most important indoor air pollutants. Not very demanding in water, it can survive thanks to the famous gel contained in its leaves, where it draws the nutrients necessary for its subsistence. However, it needs a lot of light and exposure to direct sunlight.
It is admired in the office and at home. With its long upright leaves, it is considered a good luck charm in many countries.
2. The pothos
We can’t resist this liana plant with its young, light green, heart-shaped leaves. Native to Polynėsia, pothos purifies the air by absorbing pollutants such as formaldehyde, xylene and benzene. It can be hung or climbed along a stake or trellis With its stems sometimes reaching several meters in length, it will elegantly dress up a shelf, the top of a piece of furniture or a wall section.
Avoid installing it in children’s rooms because its sap can be stinging. And we definitely forget it if we have animals: it will make sick a dog or a cat which chew it.
3. Boston fern
Very decorative thanks to its beautiful serrated leaves, it absorbs formaldehyde, xylene and ammonia. Native to the humid tropics of South America, it is not overly greedy for light, but it loves humidity.
Keep its potting soil always moist by watering it once or twice a week, and your water feature will soon resemble a mini-jungle!
4. African violet (or Cape violet)
The most cultivated and sold plant in the world, it absorbs pentachlorophenol (PCP) fumes, a fungicide sometimes still found in treated wood. It also mitigates the dryness of the air and, what does not spoil anything, blooms almost all year long. It supports a half-shade exposure, and does not suffer too much from the heat of a radiator. Perfect in a bedroom!
It is watered once a week, through the cup (to be emptied a few hours later, otherwise the bottom of the stem may rot).
5. The moon flower
It absorbs a large quantity of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) contained in glues, paints, varnishes and mastics, such as ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, trichloroethylene and xylene. This one also called “lily of peace” appreciates the light (but not the direct sun) and supports temporarily the half-shade. On the other hand, it does not like at all the draughts, which dry out the end of its long brilliant leaves (30 to 50 cm length). It can take place in any room, with a preference for humid rooms.
Never water directly its superb slender white flowers that grow all year round.
It is also called “mother-in-law’s tongue” because its large, tough, pointed leaves are compared to a sharp tongue! It captures benzene, trichloroethylene, varnish, but also the fumes of certain stain removers and many other degreasing products. Robust, it supports the forgetfulness of watering, it is ideal for the distracted!
Place it in a kitchen or hallway if you have enough light (even indirect).
A positive effect… but no miracles
According to a study conducted by Bill Wolverton, a NASA researcher in the 1980s, the anti-pollution effectiveness of certain plants was remarkable. His work has since been called into question, because the experimental conditions were very different from those of real life: the plants destroyed the pollutants in a small cube! Obviously good for air quality, they absorb, like all plants, CO2, but they are not magic… Other studies show, however, that they have a positive influence on mood; the English call it vitamin G – the “g” of the English word green.