Grow fresh air in your Home!

posted in: Gardening | 1
Go green and grow fresh air your home! Did you know that houseplants can reduce the toxins that pollute our homes and help clean the air? Not only that but they can act as natural humidifiers and help reduce the noise in a room.
Houseplants can be so beneficial in our homes especially for those of us that suffer from allergies.  Not only do they purify and renew the stale air but they also filter out the pollutants given off from carpets, paints, aerosols such as perfumes and deodorants, MDF and laminate flooring.
Having about 15 plants in the average home can reduce the amount of pollutants quite significantly. In fact just ask NASA as they did research on this for their space shuttle expeditions. They took plants with them to help keep the air in the space shuttles clean.
pink Gerbera houseplants grow fresh air in your home
Gerbera macro – Grow Fresh Air in Your Home

Houseplants Give Out Moisture

Plants absorb the carbon dioxide, give off oxygen and also add about 90% of moisture back into the air again.  This is good especially for allergy sufferers as airborne particles are suppressed by the moist air. Plus it helps to prevent the brown edges you sometimes see on the edges of foliage plants due to dry air in our centrally heated rooms.

1. Dry Air Solutions

Some people use a little mister to spray their foliage plants every day to prevent dry edges from forming. Doing this also prevents an infestation of red spider mite as they don’t like wet leaves.
Others place their foliage plants on a shallow tray of pebbles making sure that the plant roots are not in water.  Then they continually fill up the tray to just below the pot and the moister air evaporates around the leaves to keep them nice and green.

 2.  What if you end up with brown edges on your foliage houseplant?

You’ll probably snip off the brown edges with a pair of scissors but recently I was given a tip by a UK orchid RHS gold medal winner who dips those cut ends into cinnamon powder (the one you’ll find in your kitchen cupboard) to prevent any more browning of that leaf.   In the USA the Environmental Protection Agency have approved cinnamon as a minimum risk organic fungicide.

Leaves as Traps

Some of us that live in the countryside can keep the air flow nice and fresh in our homes with having the windows opened frequently. But that’s not the case if you live beside a busy road or in a built up area. Moreover no one really wants their windows open on a cold winter day!

Not only do houseplants absorb the toxins but they also trap the dirt and dust particles from soot and car exhaust fumes.
pink gerbera houseplants grow fresh air in your home
Gerbera plants – good for cleaning the air in the home

How To Grow Fresh Air In Your Home

Here are some toxins and the most effective house plants available in the UK for removing them from our homes.

My only caveat is to make sure that the plant you are buying is safe to have around your home if you have cats and dogs or young children that might also chew on the leaves.  My list is not concise as I am not an expert in toxins so please do your own research before purchasing.  Make sure when you are buying your plant that you check with the shop or nursery to see that the particular named plant variety is safe to have around pets and children.
It’s also a good idea in general to discourage your pets and children from chewing on plant leaves / berries as even plants that are not listed as being toxic could give a stomach upset.


This is found in carpets – especially rubber backed ones, chipboard, laminate flooring, underlay and MDF to name a few…

  • Boston Fern
  • Pot Chrysanthemums (poisonous if eaten or chewed by cats,dogs and horses)
  • Gerbera
  • Dwarf Date Palm
  • Dracaena types (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Parlour Palm – Chamaedorea
  • Rubber Plant Ficus elastica (toxic to cats)
  • IvyHedera helix (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Weeping Fig Ficus benjamina (toxic to cats, dogs and horses)
  • Peace LilySpathiphylum (toxic to cats and dogs or other pets that might chew on leaves. It’s due to the insoluble calcium oxalates that sometimes you can see encrusted on the tips of the leaves.)
  • Umbrella PlantSchefflera types (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Spider plant – Chlorophytum comosum
  • Devils Ivy – Epipremnum aureum (poisonous if eaten or chewed by pets and children)
  • Anthurium (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Mother-law’s-Tongue Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’ (toxic to cats and dogs)


This is found in paints and varnishes and related paint products along with cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes.

  • Ivy (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Peace Lily (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Boston Fern
  • Devils Ivy (poisonous if eaten or chewed by pets and children)
  • Mother-law’s-Tongue (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Pot Chrysanthemums (poisonous if eaten or chewed by cats,dogs and horses)


This is found in inks, paints, lacquers and glue.

  • Dracaena types (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Peace Lily (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Devils Ivy (poisonous if eaten or chewed by pets and children)

Xylene and Toluene 

Found in solvents and paint thinners.


  • Areca Palm
  • Boston Fern
  • Ivy (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Spider Plant 
  • Devils Ivy (poisonous if eaten or chewed by pets and children)
  • Peace Lily (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Anthurium (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Parlour Palm
  • Mother-law’s-Tongue (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Weeping Fig (toxic to cats, dogs and horses)
  • Pot Chrysanthemums (poisonous if eaten or chewed by cats,dogs and horses)
  • Dumb Canes – Dieffenbachia types (toxic to animals and children if chewed or if sap goes in eyes)
  • Moth Orchids Phalenopsis



Found in many household cleaning products.

  • Peace Lily (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Anthurium (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Pot Chrysanthemums (poisonous if eaten or chewed by cats,dogs and horses)


# 1 While most of our houseplants give out oxygen during the day there are some that do this at night – so are perfect for the bedroom.

Bromeliad Family:  
  • Tillandsia
  • Bilbergia 
  • Vriesea
  • Aechemea
  • Guzmania
Orchid Family:  most including
  • Phalenenopsis
  • Dendrobium


Succulent Family:
  • Zamioculcas
  • Sedums
  • Mother-law’s-Tongue (toxic to cats and dogs)


Houseplants as Natural Humidifiers

Plants give off not only oxygen but also moisture. Approximately 90% of the water we give them goes back into the atmosphere. Furthermore that’s a great benefit when so many of us have central heating.


The following are the best plants to use as natural humidifiers:

  • Cyperus – it can sit in water very comfortable
  • Bamboo
  • Asplenium
  • Asparagus types (toxic to cats, dogs and children)
  • Spider plant
  • Umbrella plant (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Bougainvillea (mildly toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Banana plant Dwarf Musa
# 2 Did you know that when the air in the room is more humid the dust particles drop to any hard surface?  This makes it so much easier to dust them away with a damp cloth.

Reducing Noise with Houseplants

Houseplants with a large leaf surface also absorb noise. 

You will notice this particularly if you have laminate flooring or tiled or concrete flooring. Though you won’t notice the difference in carpeted areas to the noise levels. The best plants for absorbing noise in the home are:

  • Weeping fig – as it has lots and lots of tiny leaves
  • Banana plant  Dwarf Musa
  • Anthurium (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Philodendron | Pothos | Epipremnum (toxic to cats and dogs)
  • Aspidistra

A few houseplants are not just pleasing to look at but good for your health too! 


Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. She also writes and shares her nature images on

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  1. fairegarden

    Thanks so much for this helpful information, Rosie! Those bad chemicals are really scary. Maybe someday they will find ways to not use them, but there will still be a need for plants inside, just to soothe our souls. 🙂