Best Plants to Improve Indoor Air Quality

With winter nearly here & almost all of us spending more time at home, here’s a question: do indoor plants actually improve our indoor air quality?  The somewhat unfortunate short answer is, no.  Unless you’ve crammed about 100 houseplants into your home, science tell us that you won’t necessarily reap the benefits of cleaner air. 

For true indoor air filtration, the bottom line is you need a HEPA air filter such as the Germ Guardian, which uses UV light to sanitize the air & kill germs.

Best Plants to Help Purify Indoor Air, Girl Who Travels the World

The more plants you have in your home ~ the more chance you have for improving air quality! Hanging plants is a fun way to add height to your indoor display, while giving a subtle bohemian vibe to your home.

Do Indoor Plants Improve Our Well-Being?

HOWEVER: plants DO release (good) oxygen & absorb (bad) carbon dioxide, which means that, if only on a small scale, they are to some extent purifying the air.  Further, studies have shown that having more plants indoors improves our productivity by increasing satisfaction & mental wellness, & by naturally lowering stress levels.  Indoor plants also add microbial abundance & diversity to our indoor climate, which, in a time when we are all sanitizing ourselves to death: may be exactly what we need. 

At a bare minimum, adding more indoor plants simply makes your home more beautiful.  Think about how good it feels to put up a freshly-cut Christmas tree, smelling it’s crisp, pine scent when you wake in the morning or walk in the room.  Surely, there are both tangible & intangible benefits here.  To that end, here are the best plants to help improve indoor air (& life) quality.

Best Plants to Improve Indoor Air Quality

1. Snake Grass (i.e. “Sansevieria”)

Snake grass is my #1 indoor plant choice for two reasons: 1) It’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to kill, & 2) It’s upright structure adds beauty to any home or style, from modern to farm-house.  I first learned about snake grass (or sansevieria) from my cousin Michelle, who is anything but an avid gardener.  In the year we lived together, I believe she watered the snake grass ONE TIME & it still survived!!  The beauty of snake grass is that it needs virtually ZERO water ~ so if you are not a gardener, snake grass is ideal for you. 

Note: The only time I’ve actually killed a snake plant is when I put it outside; the cold Bend nights & dry wind were too much for it.  Keep your snake grass inside for the best chance of survival.

Best Plants to Improve Indoor Air Quality, Girl Who Travels the World

If you normally kill plants because you forget to water them: GET snake grass!! It thrives in low-light environments with VERY little water (i.e. a few ice cubes per month).

2. Majesty Palm

From a beauty standpoint, the majesty palm is my favorite: they are particularly beautiful in room corners ~ adding lushness & a hint of the tropics.  Place palms by a window (to receive light) & not directly beneath a heater; the dry air will require more frequent watering.  Majesty palms definitely need more water than snake grass ~ I water mine once per week.  Keep the soil fairly moist; if you walk by & feel that it’s dry, give it a deep-water or add some ice cubes for a slow drip.

Best Plants to Help Improve Indoor Air Quality, Girl Who Travels the World

The majesty palm can be seen in the background, behind the white armchair, next to the window. No corner is complete without a palm!

3. Peace Lily

On top of my kitchen counter, directly above my sink, I have a lovely peace lily in a bright blue & white pot: it adds cheerfulness to the room in a way that a fake plant simply cannot.  Like majesty palms, my peace lilies need a good, deep water once a week; when they start looking droopy or limp, I know it’s time to water them.  As an added bonus, peace lilies are said to be one of the best indoor plants for purifying the air.  Even if they only do that on a small scale, their beauty is worth the small investment.

Best Plants to Help Improve Indoor Air Quality, Girl Who Travels the World

Peace lilies brighten any room ~ & only need to be watered about once a week.

Peace Lily

Snake Grass

Majesty Palm

Best Plants to Improve Indoor Air Quality

4. Aloe Plant

Here’s a plant (or succulent, rather) that won’t just add beauty to your home ~ but it serves a purpose: when you need salve for a sunburn or rash, simply break off a piece of the aloe plant, open it up, & place the aloe’s cool gel directly on your skin.  Unlike store-bought aloe, the real plant has no additives, dyes, or preservatives.  I have an aloe in a hanging basket in my bedroom, which provides easy access to use when needed.

5. Succulents

Similar to snake grass, succulents are IDEAL for non-gardeners!  Because their leaves are typically so plump: it means they’re already full of water.  Hence, succulents need very little water.  I drop ice cubes into mine every couple weeks (during winter or in a warm climate, you may need to water more often).  Succulents really never need a deep-water; slow drip is preferable & not that often.  But the best thing about succulents is their HUGE variety ~ they come in radically different shapes, sizes, & colors: adding tremendous liveliness to any home. 

(P.S. Succulents are great for first-time, kid gardeners to try out as they require very little maintenance & care).

Best Indoor Plants to Help Purify Air, Girl Who Travels the World

Succulents come in dozens of shapes & colors, making them a fun (& easy) way to add more plant life to your home.

Aloe Vera


Hanging Plants

Best Plants to Help Improve Indoor Air Quality

I hope this article helps give you inspiration for brightening your household during these darker months.  Every time I look at my plants (particularly the peace lilies & palms), it brings me joy & a sense of temporarily being on vacation. 

A feeling I think all of us could use a little more of right now….

xoxo Noelia 

Read Next: How to Create a Joanna Gaines-Worthy Garden

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