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Air Purifying Plants

Whether you have a sunny windowsill or acreage, plants that can purify the air is a big plus. We'll be looking at easy-to-grow houseplants, garden plants (zone 5) and trees (zone 5) to help you make an informed choice:

lots of different plants in pots and on shelves on a balcony with a glass window
Balcony Plants


Having houseplants can indeed help improve indoor air quality by filtering out pollutants and releasing oxygen. Here are some of the best houseplants known for their air-purifying qualities:

  • Snake Plant (Sansevieria) Known for its ability to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen at night, snake plants are excellent air purifiers. They are also low-maintenance and can tolerate low light conditions.

  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) Spider plants are great at removing formaldehyde and xylene from the air. They are resilient, easy to grow, and produce "spiderettes" that can be propagated into new plants.

  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) Peace lilies are effective in removing common indoor air pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. They have beautiful white flowers and thrive in moderate to low light conditions.

  • Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) Apart from its medicinal properties, aloe vera is known for removing formaldehyde and benzene from the air. It requires minimal watering and prefers bright, indirect light.

  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) Boston ferns are excellent at humidifying indoor air while removing pollutants like formaldehyde and xylene. They prefer bright, indirect light and moist soil.

  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) Bamboo palms are effective at removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air. They thrive in indirect light and require regular watering.

  • Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica) Rubber plants are great for removing formaldehyde from the air. They prefer bright, indirect light and regular watering, allowing the soil to dry partially between waterings.

Remember that while these plants can help improve air quality, they are not a substitute for proper ventilation and other means of air purification. Additionally, some plants may be toxic to pets, so if you have pets, make sure to choose plants that are safe for them.

blocks of yellow, orange, pink and red flowers planted on a checkered board outside

Outdoor plants for improved air quality in zone 5

There are several zone 5 plants that can help improve air quality when grown outdoors. Here are some examples:

  • Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) This evergreen tree is native to North America and is known for its ability to filter pollutants from the air. It can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and requires minimal maintenance.

  • Golden Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) Although typically grown as a houseplant, Golden Pothos can also be grown outdoors in zone 5 during the warmer months. It has air-purifying qualities and can help remove toxins like formaldehyde from the air.

  • Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) This native perennial plant produces vibrant orange flowers that attract butterflies. It is well-suited for zone 5 and helps filter the air while providing important habitat for pollinators.

  • New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) Asters are hardy, native perennials that thrive in zone 5. They produce beautiful, daisy-like flowers in various shades of purple and pink, attracting bees and butterflies while helping to improve air quality.

  • Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) Common yarrow is a tough, adaptable perennial with fern-like foliage and clusters of tiny flowers. It can grow in a variety of soil conditions and attracts beneficial insects while filtering the air.

  • Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica) Siberian iris is a hardy perennial that produces stunning, colorful blooms in various shades of blue, purple, and white. It can tolerate wetter soil conditions and helps improve air quality in zone 5 gardens.

  • Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) Russian sage is a drought-tolerant perennial with silver-gray foliage and spikes of lavender-blue flowers. It can thrive in zone 5 and has aromatic leaves that release a pleasant fragrance when brushed against.

When selecting outdoor plants for air purification, it is essential to consider their suitability for your specific growing conditions, including sunlight exposure, soil type, and moisture levels. Choosing native species is also beneficial as they are well adapted to the local ecosystem.

Small sapling of a fir tree in a forest
Small tree sapling

Trees that improve air quality

Trees play a crucial role in cleaning the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants while releasing oxygen. Here are some trees known for their air-purifying qualities:

  • Silver Birch (Betula pendula) Silver birch trees are effective at capturing airborne pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. They have beautiful white bark and can thrive in various soil types.

  • Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) Japanese cedar trees are known for their ability to absorb high levels of nitrogen dioxide, making them effective in urban environments. They have an attractive conical shape and can tolerate a range of soil conditions.

  • Red Maple (Acer rubrum) Red maple trees are native to North America and are excellent at filtering out pollutants. They are adaptable to different soil types and provide vibrant fall foliage.

  • Honey Locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) Honey locust trees have a high tolerance for urban environments and are efficient at absorbing pollutants such as sulfur dioxide and ozone. They have delicate foliage and thornless varieties are available.

  • White Pine (Pinus strobus) White pine trees are known for their air-cleaning abilities and are particularly effective at capturing particulate matter. They have soft needles and can grow well in various soil types.

  • London Plane Tree (Platanus x acerifolia) London plane trees are commonly planted in urban areas due to their ability to withstand pollution. They help filter particulate matter and have attractive mottled bark.

  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) Ginkgo trees are unique and known for their fan-shaped leaves. They are effective at absorbing pollutants and can tolerate urban environments. Female ginkgo trees produce fruit, so planting male varieties is recommended to avoid the strong-smelling fruit.

  • Oak (Quercus spp.) Oaks are robust and long-lived trees that contribute to air purification. They are known for their ability to capture and store carbon dioxide. Various oak species exist, so it's important to choose one suitable for your climate.

Remember that trees take time to grow and reach their full air-cleaning potential. Additionally, the effectiveness of air purification can vary depending on factors such as tree size, density, and proximity to pollution sources. Planting a variety of trees in your area can have a cumulative positive impact on air quality.

If you're looking for a deal on plants, our members get a discount at local nurseries!

Happy Gardening!


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