9 NASA-Approved Plants to Purify Your Bedroom Air — Naturally
There’s one thing a lot of people overlook when it comes to getting a restful night’s slumber: air quality.
Even if you don’t have pets or smoke in your living space, your air can still be filled with impurities from the cells your body continuously sheds, the products you use and chemicals released from your furniture.
Fortunately, there’s a simple, inexpensive way to clear toxins from your bedroom and boost the oxygen supply: adding some houseplants.
NASA has published a study onthe detoxifying benefits of several different houseplants as part of a project to overcome “sick building syndrome” and purify the air on space stations — and you can put their findings to use in your own Starbase Goodnight (1).
Read on for a list of the hardiest purifying plants (in case your thumb isn’t quite as green as you’d like it to be) with options that will thrive whether you have a lot of sunlight exposure in your bedroom or barely any.
Don’t have a lot of light in your bedroom? No problem — dark-dwelling plants can be great air purifiers too. But keep this in mind: low-light plants prefer a drier environment. Ensure the soil has good drainage to avoid root rot, and let the soil on top dry completely before watering.
Here are a few great low-light plants that can help purify your bedroom air:
1. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
This is one of the easiest houseplants to care for. It prefers a warm, humid environment, but is tolerant of less-than-ideal conditions. Cuttings readily root in water, making it simple to propagate.
2. Red-Edged Dracaena (Dracaena marginata)
The Madagascar dragon tree, as it’s sometimes referred, adds a dramatic flair to a room. The bacteria in which dracaena grows also helps remove toxic chemicals. This plant prefers temperatures of around 75 degrees and light watering a couple of times per week.
NOTE: this one is toxic to pets, so keep it from their reach.
3. Snake Plant (Dracaena/Sansevieria trifasciata)
While their appearance can be hit-or-miss with regard to personal aesthetic (2), these super-hardy plants are recommended for the bedroom because unlike most houseplants, snake plants continue to produce oxygen all night long.
This one is very drought-resistant, so it's great if you’re prone to forgetting to water the plants.
If you have a little more light in your bedroom, the plants below are an option for you. But keep in mind that they generally like a cooler, more humid room — so it’s best to keep them a least three feet from a window into which sunlight shines. Be especially careful around south-facing windows, as they tend to get the most intense light.
If those conditions are a match for your bedroom, consider the following air-purifying plants:
4. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
This attractive addition to the home can be a little trickier to care for, but the rewards are worth it. You’ll have to provide it with a large enough pot as it grows (and be prepared to divide it if it gets too big).
You’ll want to water it enough to keep the root ball moist, and if your bedroom has low humidity, you’ll need to mist the leaves a couple of times each week.
5. English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Bane of many gardeners, this otherwise-invasive plant is great for clearing mold spores from a room — research has shown that it can remove 78% of a room’s mold spores in just 12 hours, which also makes it ideal for the bathroom.
You’ll want to keep the soil evenly moist, and periodic misting will keep away the spider mites that love this plant.
6. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
This hardy plant also likes even soil moisture. The leaves are non-toxic for toddlers and pets, so the spider plant is a safe option if you have either in your house (check this list for some other great options (3)).
An added benefit is that these plants are very prolific, and the pups are easy to snip and plant in soil for added greenery for your bedroom or to gift to friends. Be aware, though, that these plants can quickly become pot bound and need replanting.
If you have a south- or southwest-facing window that receives several hours of direct sunlight per day, you’re in an envious position: you can avail yourself of some of the most elegant options on the list.
Go for one (or more) of these plants if you’ve got a bright bedroom:
7. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
In addition to the cheery flowers that will brighten up your bedroom, this plant does a great job of removing toxins. Its flowers also make agreat herbal tea (4)!
Mums require consistent watering, good air circulation and lightly filtering the light — a window sheer works great for this. They thrive in cooler temperatures, so if you like to keep your bedroom cold, your flowers will stay looking fresh and bright.
This is also ideal for rooms with low humidity, which keeps fungus from developing.
8. Kimberly Queen Fern (Nephrolepis obliterata)
This plant, also called the Australian sword fern, is easy to care for, but will need frequent watering and misting if kept in direct sunlight. Its fronds are non-toxic if consumed, so it’s another great pet-safe option.
9. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
This slender, elegant tree-like houseplant loves as much sunlight as you can give it. It’s a pro at removing toxic trichloroethylene — a chemical in carpets, cleaners and furniture — from the air. This one thrives in warmer rooms with high humidity, and it requires steady amounts of water in spring through fall.
There you have it — hardy plants to purify your bedroom air, no matter how much (or how little) light you have. Regardless of which purifier plants you choose, the effort you put into taking care of them will pay itself off in no time: with an oxygen-rich, toxin-free environment, you’ll be breathing (and sleeping) more deeply, from day one.
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