The Air-Purifying Benefits of Plants

Is my air really that polluted?

Picture: Orchid

Perhaps you think you aren’t afflicted by pollution too badly. It seems like an abstract and far-off issue to many of us, something we can ignore for now or let the government deal with. Well, Tranquil Plants have got news for you. Even if you live in an environment where you are free from the oppressive smog of larger cities, or an area far off from any polluting factors outside, the threat of air pollution follows you even into your own home. It is probably affecting you as you read.

Just because we cannot see the toxins around us doesn’t mean they don’t affect us. Do you know that moment when a ray of sunshine hits between the curtains, shockingly revealing all the dust in the air? All the time this dust collects from our skin, hair and pets, and formaldehyde and other toxins such as xylene and toluene are spawned from the carpets, upholstery and wallpaper in your house, where they sit in the air waiting for you to breathe them in. Yuck! Our indoor environments are said to be ten times more polluted than our outdoor environments. Moreover, we all need to consider this a major issue, as most of us experience the illnesses and impacts of it but don’t even notice. 

Especially if you live in a relatively new home, super-insulation and poor ventilation contribute to the frequent build-up of nasty stuff in the air. The illness that arises from taking these toxins in is widely known as ‘sick building syndrome’ or SBS, and the symptoms are, but not limited to:

  • Eye irritation

  • ‘Brain fog’ (lack of concentration and poor cognition)

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

Our first major tip: symptoms are usually set on by stuffy air, so open those windows from time to time! 

If these sound at all familiar to you, test out whether you have sick building syndrome by simply taking a stroll in the fresh air. The symptoms will disappear fully after an hour or so, sometimes immediately after taking just a few breaths outside. 

This of course is only a temporary measure; read on to learn how to combat your home (and city) pollution using fresh air plants.

How could a plant possibly help?

For all those with doubts, we would like to remind you that the only reason we have a breathable atmosphere on earth is because of plants. They soak in carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide and other harmful pollutants, and breathe out oxygen (O2) for our daily needs. It is only due to the plant kingdom that we are all alive today.

Therefore, it is not surprising that many businesses and the government are beginning to tackle air pollution by implementing nature’s advantages. Sadiq Khan, the current London mayor, has just unveiled a plan to tackle London’s polluted environment with initiatives like green roofs, more parkland and much more trees. (1) Other businesses are creating ‘smog-eating’ ‘City Trees’, huge walls of live moss that soak up pollutants and toxins at the rate of 275 trees per unit (2). Even larger lengths are being gone to with architect Stefano Boeri, who has designed and started to implement his ‘forest buildings’, tower blocks completely covered with greenery, that will be built in China (3).

Furthermore, there are a few types of plants whose speciality is to remove toxins in the average home. in 1989, NASA conducted a study (4) proving that some plants reduced air pollutants significantly in enclosed environments and cleaned the air; just what they needed in their spacecraft and, ironically, just what we need down on earth.

OK, well why not just get an air purifier?

It is said that within the last five years, air pollution has gone up by a whopping 8% (5). Because of this and the awareness of pollution-related death and disease, air pollution is beginning to get some attention with the general public as we begin to understand that it does affect us in our own places of work and at home. Unfortunately this leads us to the wrong conclusion — that we should invest in air purifying machines. Tranquil Plants cringe whenever we hear about them… 

Although electronic air purifiers may temporarily sift out some of the particulates in your own home, the electricity you use is often created from the burning of fossil fuels which, guess what, increases pollution levels around the globe. So by using an electronic air purifier, you may be helping out your own pair of lungs for a brief period but you contribute even vaster amounts of toxins and smog to the atmosphere. Indeed, you actually spend even more money on an air purifier than you would on plants — sometimes these machines can be upwards of £500!

Therefore, we are led with a clear conclusion…

Quick, gimme plants!!

Great! So now you have conviction that the only way to go is green. Let us show you the best and hardiest plants that you can introduce to your personal troposphere:

  1. Spider plants - These are your hardiest guys; they’ll never fail you — even if you forget to water them periodically. Therefore, they are great for beginners and holiday lovers, or people who don’t generally have enough time to care for plants. They can be hung anywhere or kept on windowsills, tables and so forth — it’s up to you and your style!

  2. Ferns - These fellas are also extremely hardy, but require a little more attention than spider plants in the sense that they need misting quite frequently (though we recommend this for all plants to keep the moss alive and well).

  3. Palms - As well as the former two, you can rely on palms to survive if you aren’t a budding gardener. They are efficient at removing chemicals from the air and also give a tropical vibe to the space in which you implement them.

  4. Dracaena - or dragon - plants, nicknamed so for their fiery red sap. These are absolutely brilliant and a favourite of my own, but watch that you don’t water them too frequently or the roots can begin to rot. They are easy-peasy to look after and produce an explosive array of leaves bordered with a crimson hue. Perfect to create a palatial environment…

  5. Peace lilies - Although delicate, peace lilies have a beautiful white flower and are great at purifying the air - so if you’re keen on fragrance and plant aesthetics, and you’re ready to take on something a little more home gardening for your fresh air then this is the one for you. We do not stock these on the normal website, but just give us a text, call or email and we can make you one pronto.

The first three plants can be found on our ‘Fresh Air Plants’ section in the Tranquil Plants shop, and they all remove slightly different toxins depending on the species. Click here to find all the purifying qualities specific to each plant. There are also many other fresh air plants which aren’t in our range, such as chrysanthemums and mother tongues. But remember to keep an eye out on our shop — we are introducing new members all the time!

Our Sources






Plant-based toxin removal