Air purifying indoor plants: 8 best plants that clean the air

Breathe easy - plants are the ideal accessory for your space
Chris Warnes

Indoor plants are adored by many for their vibrancy and the splash of natural greenery they bring to a space. Apart from being aesthetically beautiful, most indoor plants are also beneficial to have in your home due to their air purifying properties, combatting air borne chemicals given off by plastics and finishes found in the home. We caught up with horticulture experts and green thumbs Craig Schofield, MAIH* and owner of Sydney-based outdoor furniture and garden centre, Mosarte and Justin Foley from Sydney-based Foley’s Nursery, to find out the best air purifying plants.

*Member of Australian Institute of Horticulture


Craig recommends:

  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) With large, long leaves and white flowers, peace lilies can thrive with little watering and can help to remove ammonia from the air, so they make great indoor plants.
  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis Fern) Popular in the 70’s, the Boston Fern is making a comeback. It’s easy to grow, thrives in humid conditions, likes to be indoors or in the shade and removes formaldehyde, benzene and xylene from the air. Keep away from air conditioners or heaters however as it can dry out quickly.
  • Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina) Particularly good at filtering formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, a bright spot with partial shade during the day will keep these air cleaning plants happy.
  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea) is a tight clumping palm that loves shade, improves air quality by removing formaldehyde from the air and is said to act as a natural humidifier.
Dracena yucca

Justin recommends:

  • Janet Craig (Dracaena) A slow growing plant with dark glossy leaves that requires minimal maintenance and is great for improving indoor air quality. The Dracaena is a popular choice for offices as it likes being out of direct sunlight. “It is good at removing formaldehyde, a common household toxin,” says Justin.

  • Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) is a type of clumping fan palm with lush dark green foliage. While they can grow to over four metres tall, they are very slow growing. Justin recommends regular and thorough watering. They remove formaldehyde, ammonia and xylene.

  • Zanzibar Gem (Zamilifolia) has beautiful glossy green foliage and thrives when neglected. It is resilient against drought, dry air, low light and bugs. It’s a popular choice for malls, restaurants, offices and pubs. Justin tells us, “it reduces pollutants, CO2 and carbon monoxide.”
  • Snake Plant or Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Sansevieria) is very hardy and can withstand most conditions. It has sculptural upright leaves with a distinct yellow bordering that grows to just over one metre tall. “It removes formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, toleuene, and benzene from the air,” explains Justin.

Read our tips on styling with indoor plants around your home, or consider air plants for the ultimate in no fuss indoor plants

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