Experts Recommend The Air-Purifying Plants That Will Work Overtime In Your Small Space

·6 min read

2020 was the year of the great indoors. And, since we couldn’t recreate misty ocean breezes or the Santa Ana winds inside our apartments, many of us relied on houseplants to refresh the air inside our spaces. Now, we’re back in the swing of spring and it’s time to give that air-purifying indoor pandemic garden a refresh.

“Plants improve the quality of air in a small space,” Joyce Mast, Bloomscape’s resident Plant Mom, tells Refinery29. “Houseplants not only increase oxygen, but they’re also natural air purifiers and can remove toxins (including volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde, found in everyday materials like paint and plastics).” While fresh air is nice and being surrounded by plants makes many of us happy, their air-purifying abilities can actually make us feel better physically as well. “Removing these toxins can reduce symptoms caused by pollutants like allergies, headaches, fatigue, etc,” the expert explains. “Plants absorb gasses via the spores on their leaves, reducing airborne mold and leaving us with fresh oxygen!”

With allergy season upon us and with us still spending time indoors, it’s an ideal time to stock up on some new air-cleaning plants. But which ones should we be buying? “Though it is true that all plants purify the air in some way or form, there are a few that do it better than others,” plant curator Riley Gallagher says. Ahead, Gallagher and Mast share the air-purifying plants they recommend most.

Scroll on to find out which clean-air producing plants are right for you and your home. Once you’ve decided which ones to go for, Gallagher advises cleaning the leaves with a damp towel about once a month or more, depending on how dusty your home gets. This will ensure carbon dioxide can go in and oxygen can come out. As the plant curator says, “A happy plant is the best breath of fresh air one can get during these quarantimes.”

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

<h2>Devil’s Ivy (Marble Queen Pothos)</h2><br>Certain plants are just a cut above the rest when it comes to turning carbon dioxide into clean and crisp oxygen. Devil’s Ivy, <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/air-purifying-plants#:~:text=Golden%20pothos%20(Epipremnum%20aureum),purifiers%20for%20removing%20common%20toxins." rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:according to Healthline" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">according to Healthline</a>, specifically eliminates formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, carbon monoxide, and more contaminants. The biggest selling point, however, is that this plant is practically indestructible — and the more it grows, the more it purifies. <br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="http://plants.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Plants.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Plants.com</a></em></strong><br><br><strong>Plants.com</strong> Devil’s Ivy (Marble Queen Pothos), $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.plants.com%2Fp%2Fdevils-ivy-177044" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Plants.com" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Plants.com</a>

Devil’s Ivy (Marble Queen Pothos)


Certain plants are just a cut above the rest when it comes to turning carbon dioxide into clean and crisp oxygen. Devil’s Ivy, according to Healthline, specifically eliminates formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, carbon monoxide, and more contaminants. The biggest selling point, however, is that this plant is practically indestructible — and the more it grows, the more it purifies.

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Plants.com Devil’s Ivy (Marble Queen Pothos), $, available at Plants.com
<h3>Sansevieria</h3><br>Also known as the snake plant, Sansevieria is an air purifying plant that comes highly recommended by both Mast and Gallagher. “This plant is great for narrow spaces and does most of its work at night converting carbon dioxide to oxygen and can help you sleep better,” explains Mast. “It's one of the most popular options for improving air quality.”<br><br>The Bloomscape expert says she loves recommending Sansevieria because it’s versatile, easy to care for, and adaptable to varied environments. “It’s able to thrive in direct sun and adapts quite nicely to the lower light areas of your home,” she points out.<br><br>Because it’s native to the arid deserts of West Africa, it doesn’t require much water — especially in the winter — so it’s a great option for beginners or those more forgetful plant owners. “Snake plants are extremely hardy — in other words, good for those who don't have a green thumb,” Gallagher advises. “Just don’t overwater.” According to Mast, “Overwatering can cause the plant to rot, so be sure to keep the leaves dry when watering.” She recommends moistening the soil around the edge of the pot, instead of in the center of the leaves. Additionally, you should let the soil dry out between waterings.<br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="http://thesill.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Sill" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Sill</a></em></strong><br><br><strong>The Sill</strong> Snake Plant Laurentii, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thesill.com%2Fproducts%2Fsnake-plant-laurentii" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Sill" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Sill</a><br><br><strong>Bloomscape</strong> 3-Foot-Tall Potted Sansevieria, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbloomscape.com%2Fproduct%2Fsansevieria%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a>

Sansevieria


Also known as the snake plant, Sansevieria is an air purifying plant that comes highly recommended by both Mast and Gallagher. “This plant is great for narrow spaces and does most of its work at night converting carbon dioxide to oxygen and can help you sleep better,” explains Mast. “It's one of the most popular options for improving air quality.”

The Bloomscape expert says she loves recommending Sansevieria because it’s versatile, easy to care for, and adaptable to varied environments. “It’s able to thrive in direct sun and adapts quite nicely to the lower light areas of your home,” she points out.

Because it’s native to the arid deserts of West Africa, it doesn’t require much water — especially in the winter — so it’s a great option for beginners or those more forgetful plant owners. “Snake plants are extremely hardy — in other words, good for those who don't have a green thumb,” Gallagher advises. “Just don’t overwater.” According to Mast, “Overwatering can cause the plant to rot, so be sure to keep the leaves dry when watering.” She recommends moistening the soil around the edge of the pot, instead of in the center of the leaves. Additionally, you should let the soil dry out between waterings.

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The Sill Snake Plant Laurentii, $, available at The Sill

Bloomscape 3-Foot-Tall Potted Sansevieria, $, available at Bloomscape
<h2>Parlor Palm</h2><br>“Native to Mexico and Central America, the parlor palm requires very little care and is an excellent air purifier,” Mast shares. You can bring this tiny taste of the tropics into your apartment no matter its size or light situations. It’s even a <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/plants-safe-for-cats-dogs" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:great plant option for pet owners" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">great plant option for pet owners</a>. “Its dark green fronds create a bushy, lush plant perfect for tabletops, desks, and shelves,” she adds. “The parlor palm will do best in bright, filtered light, but will readily adjust to low light as well.”<br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="http://bloomscape.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a></em></strong><br><br><strong>Bloomscape</strong> Parlor Palm, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbloomscape.com%2Fproduct%2Fparlor-palm%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a>

Parlor Palm


“Native to Mexico and Central America, the parlor palm requires very little care and is an excellent air purifier,” Mast shares. You can bring this tiny taste of the tropics into your apartment no matter its size or light situations. It’s even a great plant option for pet owners. “Its dark green fronds create a bushy, lush plant perfect for tabletops, desks, and shelves,” she adds. “The parlor palm will do best in bright, filtered light, but will readily adjust to low light as well.”

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Bloomscape Parlor Palm, $, available at Bloomscape
<h2>Kimberly Queen Fern</h2><br>According to Mast, Kimberly Queen Ferns can filter formaldehyde and xylene out of your air — but that’s not all it does. “They are said to be natural humidifiers, and are a great choice if the air moisture is low in your home,” Mast explains. This litte green miracle-worker is also very low maintenance, which is an added bonus for some. Mast recommends simply keeping your Kimberly Queen Fern in direct sunlight and making sure the soil stays moist.<br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="http://bloomscape.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a></em></strong><br><br><strong>Bloomscape</strong> Kimberly Queen Fern, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbloomscape.com%2Fproduct%2Fkimberly-queen-fern%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a>

Kimberly Queen Fern


According to Mast, Kimberly Queen Ferns can filter formaldehyde and xylene out of your air — but that’s not all it does. “They are said to be natural humidifiers, and are a great choice if the air moisture is low in your home,” Mast explains. This litte green miracle-worker is also very low maintenance, which is an added bonus for some. Mast recommends simply keeping your Kimberly Queen Fern in direct sunlight and making sure the soil stays moist.

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Bloomscape Kimberly Queen Fern, $, available at Bloomscape
<h2>Spider Plant</h2><br>“This whimsical plant is known for its air-purifying qualities and is considered effective at removing carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air,” Mast explains. Its extreme adaptability also makes it perfect for new plant parents. Bloomscape’s official Plant Mom says spider plants are “nearly impossible to kill.” They’re also pet-friendly, prefer indirect light but can tolerate low light, and only need moderate watering or spritzing. <br>Mast’s number one tip for Spider Plant owners? “The striping on the leaves will be more prominent with indirect lighting, so avoid direct lighting, as it will scorch the leaves.”<br><br>Gallagher also puts spider plants in her top air-purifying plant list and highlights another of its fun characteristics. “They tend to let off baby spider plants — ‘pups’ — that you can share with friends, or fill your house with,” she suggests. That’s one way to spread the clean air around.<br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="http://bloomscape.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a></em></strong><br><br><strong>Bloomscape</strong> Spider Plant, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbloomscape.com%2Fproduct%2Fspider-plant%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a><br><br><strong>Plant Collective</strong> Spider Plant, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fplantcollective.co%2Fcollections%2Fhouse-plants%2Fproducts%2Fspider-plant%3Fvariant%3D12757673508963" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Plant Collective" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Plant Collective</a>

Spider Plant


“This whimsical plant is known for its air-purifying qualities and is considered effective at removing carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air,” Mast explains. Its extreme adaptability also makes it perfect for new plant parents. Bloomscape’s official Plant Mom says spider plants are “nearly impossible to kill.” They’re also pet-friendly, prefer indirect light but can tolerate low light, and only need moderate watering or spritzing.
Mast’s number one tip for Spider Plant owners? “The striping on the leaves will be more prominent with indirect lighting, so avoid direct lighting, as it will scorch the leaves.”

Gallagher also puts spider plants in her top air-purifying plant list and highlights another of its fun characteristics. “They tend to let off baby spider plants — ‘pups’ — that you can share with friends, or fill your house with,” she suggests. That’s one way to spread the clean air around.

Shop Bloomscape

Bloomscape Spider Plant, $, available at Bloomscape

Plant Collective Spider Plant, $, available at Plant Collective
<h2>English Ivy</h2><br>English ivy has the ability to pull harmful gases into its leaves and roots, thus removing it from the air in your home. However, its air-purifying capability isn’t the only thing appealing about this particular plant. “I love English ivy because I love the idea of trailing a plant around an entire wall,” Gallagher shares. “I wish I had a four-poster bed for this reason.”<br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="https://amzn.to/3srphFa" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:American Plant Exchange" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">American Plant Exchange</a></em></strong><br><br><strong>AMERICAN PLANT EXCHANGE</strong> English Ivy, $, available at <a href="https://amzn.to/2Pkileu" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a>

English Ivy


English ivy has the ability to pull harmful gases into its leaves and roots, thus removing it from the air in your home. However, its air-purifying capability isn’t the only thing appealing about this particular plant. “I love English ivy because I love the idea of trailing a plant around an entire wall,” Gallagher shares. “I wish I had a four-poster bed for this reason.”

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AMERICAN PLANT EXCHANGE English Ivy, $, available at Amazon
<h2>Ficus</h2><br>A ficus can reduce mold and bacteria and remove formaldehyde in any room, per Bloomscape’s Plant Mom. This plant variety is “very tolerant of neglect and can be grown with very little experience,” she adds.<br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="http://thesill.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Sill" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Sill</a></em></strong> <br><br><strong>The Sill</strong> Ficus Tineke, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thesill.com%2Fproducts%2Fficus-tineke" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Sill" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Sill</a>

Ficus


A ficus can reduce mold and bacteria and remove formaldehyde in any room, per Bloomscape’s Plant Mom. This plant variety is “very tolerant of neglect and can be grown with very little experience,” she adds.

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The Sill Ficus Tineke, $, available at The Sill
<h2>Rubber Tree</h2><br>Rubber trees are similar to variegated ficus in their mold- and bacteria-reducing capabilities. According to Mast, they remove formaldehyde from the air as well and are also a great option for beginners or plant ladies with little time to devote to their green friends. “Both rubber trees and ficus variegata can thrive in indirect, bright light and will also adjust to a lower light area, but the leaf colors may not be as pronounced,” the expert explains.<br><br><em>Shop</em> <strong><em><a href="http://bloomscape.com" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a></em></strong><br><br><strong>Bloomscape</strong> Burgundy Rubber Tree, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbloomscape.com%2Fproduct%2Fburgundy-rubber-tree%2F" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Bloomscape" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Bloomscape</a><br><br><strong>The Sill</strong> Rubber Tree Plant, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thesill.com%2Fproducts%2Frubber-tree" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:The Sill" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">The Sill</a>

Rubber Tree


Rubber trees are similar to variegated ficus in their mold- and bacteria-reducing capabilities. According to Mast, they remove formaldehyde from the air as well and are also a great option for beginners or plant ladies with little time to devote to their green friends. “Both rubber trees and ficus variegata can thrive in indirect, bright light and will also adjust to a lower light area, but the leaf colors may not be as pronounced,” the expert explains.

Shop Bloomscape

Bloomscape Burgundy Rubber Tree, $, available at Bloomscape

The Sill Rubber Tree Plant, $, available at The Sill

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