House Plant Heroes



by Liz

So, you do your best to make sure your kids are fed a healthy diet, they get plenty of exercise, you try to stimulate them mentally and anything that touches their little body is non toxic and paraben free. You’ve touched every base to make sure your kids are healthy and happy, but have you ever considered the quality of the air inside your home and the impact it could be having on your kids (and your own) health?
Modern day furnishings like carpet, mattresses, window coverings, ply furniture (think anything that comes in a flat pack), paint, TV’s, toilet paper, air fresheners, conventional cleaning products and artificially scented candles release volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) into the air inside your home. VOC’s are carcinogenic chemicals and can cause a range of health issues from asthma, allergies and headaches to cancer and other life threatening diseases. Children are especially susceptible to VOC’s.

Of course you aren’t about to go throwing out all of your furniture and tearing up your new carpet but luckily there is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to improve the air quality of your home. House plants! NASA scientists have studied the effectiveness of house plants in reducing VOC’s and discovered that in some cases the humble pot plant can remove 90% of chemicals in the air. Any indoor plant will help to remove VOC’s to a certain degree, however some are more effective than others.

Peace lilies are in the number 1 spot. They filter benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toluene and ammonia. These babies can reduce VOC’s by up to 90% and are also helpful for reducing mould spores that grow in the home. Keep one in the bathroom to reduce mould growth on tiles and shower curtains. Peace lilies get sad without enough water, so be sure to give them a drink a couple of times a week and keep them off the ground as they can be toxic if ingested by pets or children.

Snake plants are not only visually appealing, they are also champion VOC removalists! They filter benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene and actually produce oxygen at night time as well as during the day unlike other plants which only produce oxygen during daylight hours, making them a great plant for the bedroom. They are also super hard to kill, so a definite winner if you’re a serial black thumb!

The Boston Fern filters formaldehyde and also acts as a humidifier, restoring moisture to the air making them perfect for people suffering from dry skin conditions and other cold weather issues. These guys look lovely in a hanging pot and are relatively hardy.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig has got to be the house plant of the moment. They don’t make NASA’s top ten indoor plants list, but from what I can ascertain, plants of the fig variety can help to filter formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. Fiddle’s don’t come cheap, so you want to look after them properly. Water only when the soil is dry (one cup once a week is a good rule of thumb) and once you find a spot in your house that Mr Fiddle enjoys, leave him there! They don’t like change.

Any plants you choose will contribute in a positive way to your homes air quality and having a mixture of plant types is the best way to cover all bases. One in each room and a couple in larger living areas is a good rule of thumb. Other ways to reduce VOC’s include ditching chemical cleaning products, air fresheners, bug sprays (use a fly swat instead) and artificially scented candles (real beeswax candles will actually improve air quality), choosing floorboards over carpet, choose low or no VOC paint, buy solid wooden furniture instead of ply, don’t use aerosols in the home and open windows for an hour or so each day.

Happy house plant shopping!

Want to read more ‘Health’ articles? Click on the little ‘plus’ sign at the bottom of this page, and check them out in ‘Categories’.

2 thoughts on “House Plant Heroes

  1. Thanks for this great info. I’m off to pot up more plants for inside the house. I love them and even though it’s a very 70’s thing, I’ve never cared about being “behind the times”. It’s come full circle and I’m back in trend again. Ha! Who would’ve thunk it?


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