6 House Plants That Purify the Air

Written by Jennifer Hollohan
Updated: July 28, 2023
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Below we explore some of the choices of plants that purify the air. Over the past few years, an increasing awareness of the chemicals that pervade our world has been increasing. Some are naturally occurring, but most are man-made. And thanks to cleaning supplies, products sprayed on household goods, and other particulates in the air outside, our homes can become inundated with air pollutants. One solution is to invest in an expensive HEPA filter, which will help clean the air and ensure your home is as chemical-free as possible.

However, it may come as a surprise that plants can do the same job. And often, they can do a superior job at filtering particulates out of the air than the top HEPA filter on the market. In 1989, NASA commissioned the Clean Air Study to determine the best ways to purify the air in “sealed environments.” The study found that multiple plants successfully purify the air of enclosed spaces. And the good news is that many can be readily grown as houseplants.

So, you can fill your space with gorgeous green plants to create an aesthetically pleasing, uplifting environment while cleaning your air. You can get all that for a fraction of the cost of a HEPA filter.

1. Ficus (Ficus benjamina)

Ficus benjamina is in the Moraceae (fig) family. You may hear it referred to as a weeping fig. This tree works well for indoor or outdoor use.

How They Purify the Air:

Adding a ficus to your home or office space will help rid the air of toluene, formaldehyde, and xylene.


The weeping fig is a broadleaf evergreen that will grow to enormous heights when left to grow unchecked outside. However, it can get pruned into an appropriate size for indoor house plants. Inside, they are typically kept at 2 to 10 feet tall. 

The stems often intertwine, and the branches typically droop. Its glossy leaves are elliptic in shape, with a long tip.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 

Ficus benjamina are winter hardy in Zones 10-12. But you can keep them happy and healthy as an indoor plant in any zone!


Since this is a popular tree, it is readily available at nurseries.

Growing conditions:

This beautiful tree prefers indirect sun and can tolerate some shade. It thrives in a soil-based potting mix that is kept moist but not damp. Consider adding light fertilizer periodically to ensure healthy growth.

It does not like cold, drafty areas. Beyond that, the weeping fig is extremely low-maintenance and easy to care for. 


Even if you are short on space, you can still enjoy growing a Ficus benjamina in your home. In this case, opt for a dwarf cultivar. They can easily get treated like a bonsai tree!

Ficus Benjamina in a room

Ficus Benjamina helps rid the air of harmful pollutants and chemicals.

©Olga Miltsova/Shutterstock.com

2. English Ivy (Hedera helix)

You can often see this beautiful and iconic trailing green vine in outdoor garden spaces. However, you can grow it indoors or in a patio space if you are prepared to combat rapid growth with regular pruning.

How They Purify the Air: 

English ivy removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene from the air. 


Hedera helix is a vining plant that can cover an enormous space. It can grow from 20 to 80 feet high and spread from 3 to 50 feet. This woody, evergreen perennial is fast-growing. It has thick, dark-green leaves with clusters of white-green flowers that bloom mid-summer.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 

It grows well in Zones 4-9.


The easiest way to source English ivy is to take a cutting from someone with a thriving plant. Alternatively, you can order the seeds online. It is considered invasive in some regions, so contact your local extension office or nursery before you plant.

Growing Conditions:

English ivy makes a fantastic ground cover. Alternatively, it can be planted near a large garden wall and used as a cover. It is an easy plant to care for as it is low maintenance and drought and shade tolerant. Although English Ivy tolerates many soil types, it prefers loamy, medium-quality, well-draining areas. 

You can propagate Hedera helix from seed or cuttings.


If you love the look of English ivy, consider sourcing one of the cultivars with smaller leaves. They work perfectly in hanging baskets.

English ivy in a hanging basket

Add English ivy to a hanging basket and purify your air naturally.


3. Pot Mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)

Pot mums are herbaceous perennials in the Asteraceae (daisy) family. They are most frequently grown in garden beds. But they also thrive in containers.

How They Purify the Air: 

This lovely flower is highly effective at removing VOCs.


Pot mums grow in bunches, which offer a thick and attractive appearance. The leaves have slight curls to the edges (and are highly aromatic). It begins blooming in the fall, producing flowers in a range of highly vibrant colors.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 

Grown outdoors, pot mums will survive in Zones 5-9. However, as indoor plants, they will grow in any hardiness zone as long as they receive adequate sunlight.


Your local nursery will have seed packets and plants available to purchase. You will likely find a variety of cultivars. 

Growing Conditions:

Chrysanthemum morifolium prefers well-draining soil and full sun, though it does not like direct harsh afternoon sun. You can keep the containers in a window box or on your patio. 


The flowers are edible. So you can grow a beautiful flower that purifies your air before adorning your salad plate.

Two pot mums on a counter

Beautiful pot mums will keep your air clear of harmful VOCs.

©Rezmita Anggriani/Shutterstock.com

4. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum ‘Vittatum’)

The spider plant is an extremely popular house plant due to its easy and forgiving nature.

How They Purify the Air: 

This lovely plant helps remove xylene, toluene, and formaldehyde from the air.


The spider plant is an herbaceous perennial that can grow up to two feet high and in width. Its linear leaves range from green to green and white striped. You will be delighted with white, starry flowers when it blooms. 

USDA Hardiness Zones: 

The spider plant will only survive in Zones 9-11 when grown outdoors. But indoors, they will work in any zone. 


You can purchase spider plants from your local nursery. However, if you know someone with a healthy spider plant, ask if you can have a cutting. Spider plants are also easy to propagate from cuttings.

Growing Conditions:

This low-maintenance plant is one of the easiest house plants to care for. It requires adequate watering, well-draining soil, and bright indirect sunlight. But it does not need much fertilization, as its tubers store nutrients.

You will need to divide your spider plant and repot it to prevent the fleshy roots from expanding and bursting your container.


Since spider plants are tolerant of artificial light, you can bring your cuttings to the office. 

Potted spider plant on a table

Potted spider plants are lovely to look at and remove harmful chemicals from the air.

©Bozhena Melnyk/Shutterstock.com

5. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Choose from among 40 different peace lily species to adorn your home or office.

How They Purify the Air: 

Peace lilies clean the air of environmental contaminants like formaldehyde, ammonia, and benzene.


Spathiphyllum is an herbaceous perennial that can grow as tall as 6 feet. However, it is typically pruned back and kept at roughly 3 feet tall when grown indoors. It has green, glossy leaves that provide a lovely contrast to the bright flowers.

USDA Hardiness Zones: 

As a houseplant, peace lilies will be happy in a warm environment in any hardiness zone. They will only survive outdoors in Zones 11 and 12. 


Head to your local nursery to check out their selection of Spathiphyllum. 

Growing Conditions:

Peace lilies prefer moist but not wet soil. Additionally, it is best to let the water sit for a little before giving it to your plant. This step allows the chlorine to evaporate. These beautiful plants love bright, indirect light but can survive in lower-light areas.

Unlike other plants, Spathiphyllum likes to be kept relatively pot-bound. 


Since the leaves are relatively stiff and highly glossy, you can clean them easily with a soft cloth.

Peace lily in a living room

Add a beautiful peace lily and breath a little easier.

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

6. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

Pothos is in the Araceae (arum) family and is an extremely popular choice for hanging baskets. It is a perennial evergreen and extremely low-maintenance. 

How They Purify the Air: 

Pothos plants do a fantastic job removing benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene from the air.


This vining plant can grow up to 40 feet long when left to its own devices. It has variegated or green leaves that have a beautiful glossy sheen. 

USDA Hardiness Zones: 

Pothos will grow well indoors in any hardiness zone.


If you know someone with a pothos plant, ask for a cutting. They are easy to propagate in water. Otherwise, you can find these gorgeous plants at your local nursery.

Growing Conditions:

Pothos will thrive in containers when kept in areas with medium, indirect light. Provide it with adequate water and a container that drains well. Additionally, you will want to mist the leaves occasionally as pothos loves humid environments. 

Epipremnum aureum requires regular fertilization. You will want to provide fertilizer every other month or so during its active growing cycle. The plant needs minimal care when it goes dormant over the winter.


If you enjoy having pothos around, consider adding another one to your yard. They can climb if they have the support of a tree or fence.

A row of pothos plants on a shelf

Pothos plants are rated among the best natural air purifiers.

©Amir Hafidz/Shutterstock.com

The photo featured at the top of this post is © armifello/Shutterstock.com


  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_Clean_Air_Study
  2. Almanac, Available here: https://www.almanac.com/10-indoor-plants-clean-air
  3. North Carolina State University, Available here: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/spathiphyllum/
  4. Missouri Botanical Garden, Available here: https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=244287&isprofile=0&
  5. North Carolina State University, Available here: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/chrysanthemum-x-morifolium/
  6. North Carolina State University, Available here: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/ficus-benjamina/
  7. Missouri Botanical Garden, Available here: https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=r450
  8. North Carolina State University, Available here: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/epipremnum-aureum/
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About the Author

Jennifer Hollohan is a writer at A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on gardening, mammals, and travel. Jennifer has over twenty years of writing experience. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, which she earned in 2005, and is a Herbalist. Jennifer lives in Colorado with her family. She loves hiking, admiring wildflowers, gardening, and making herbal tea.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What plant is recommended by NASA?

While many plants can help purify the air, NASA gives bamboo palm the top rating.

How many plants should you have in a room?

As many as you want! However, to purify the air, NASA recommends adding 1 plant for every 100 sqft.

Do houseplants really improve air quality?

While the NASA Clean Air Study was the first to explore this question, other researchers have followed suit. And science shows that, yes, certain plants do help improve air quality.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.