Let plants do the dirty job!

The air quality of some cities is not good, but the quality within homes or offices can be even worse. Contaminants of all kinds can be present in indoor areas with various harmful effects. The increasing use of plastics, detergents, varnishes, and the use of more efficient external joinery which hermetically seal off the incoming of fresh air is causing cancer figures to rise each year.


The plants can be very useful to purify the air in enclosed zones, especially some species highlighted by the experts. This article points out the plants that serve to purify indoor air, explain how they do it and advice on how to take care of them.

The species specified here are easy to find in Spain, clean air pollution from interior areas and looks attractive too.


The best plants to do the job.

The United States Space Agency (NASA) published in 1989 a report on indoor plants that could be used against air pollution in enclosed spaces for future space missions, and in particular to deal with some of the most common harmful substances in indoor areas: volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as trichlorethylene, xylene, formaldehyde, ammonia and benzene.


The ability of plants to clean contaminants in a home is quite high

Here is a list of the more interesting species to be used in closed spaces down on Earth,. The NASA study featured the following names: dwarf palm (Phoenix roebelenii), common fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), sword fern (Nephrolepis obliterata), ribbon (Chlorophytum comosum), aglaonema (Aglaonema modestum), bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii), Ficus benjamina (Ficus benjamina), poto (Epipremnum aureum), anturio (Anthurium andreanum), espigosa (Liriope spicata), rapis (Rhapis excelsa), gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii), trunk of Brazil (Dracaena fragans), common ivy ), Sansevieria (Sansevieria trifasciata), drachene (Dracaena marginata), spathiphyllum (Spathiphyllum) and chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium).

In particular, the Espatifilo with its white trumpet like flowers and chrysanthemum are able to cope with the five pollutants mentioned, while common ivy, sansevieria and drachena also serve for all contaminants except for ammonia. In any case, those responsible for the study recommended having a variety of different species because some are better than others to eliminate harmful substances.


All the species mentioned above can be found in Spain, "some are easier to find than others, although in many cases, the important thing is the gender, the first name of each plant, while the species, (the surname), is not going to be relevant and let me point out that a couple of plants are sufficient although a few more will not do any harm.

How plants purify the air


Plants act as a filter by absorbing pollutants through their leaves. In this way, the plants located in a room, or in an office, reduce the impurities load in the air and with it the possible diseases related to these harmful compounds.

The ability of plants to clean contaminants in a home is "pretty" high, "and if they have large leaf, better still, since other elements are trapped in the leaves.

The plants use various systems to purify indoor air, through evapotranspiration, increasing ambient humidity causes pollen to weigh more and fall to the ground, making it less annoying for allergy sufferers. Processes of photosynthesis fix carbon dioxide (CO2) and provide oxygen (O2).  What more do you want for a bit of water and some fertiliser a couple of time a year?


Caring for the interior plants


The plants should be located in areas with easy access, with sufficient space, taking into account their specific needs of water and light. Avoid placing them near radiators, air conditioners, in places of frequent passage or in the midst of drafts.

A good pot, whether of soil or hanging from the roof according to the characteristics of the species, a good substrate and fertilizer, a watering can and pruning shears are essential elements for the care of the plant.

The conservator of the Royal Botanic Garden also advises to clean the leaves with a moistened rag so that they continue fulfilling their purifying function and, from time to time, put them in the tub with water so that the substrate is soaked in water.




Most houseplants are killed by over-watering. Aim to keep the compost moist but wait until it has almost dried out before re-watering. You can check by pushing your finger into the compost. Water from above and put saucers under plants to allow excess water to drain away.

Generally plants will need watering more during the spring and summer growing seasons, than when dormant in winter.

Tap water is fine for most houseplants, but some specialist plants, such as orchids and carnivorous plants are fussier.




Ferns, orchids, bromeliads, calathea and other tropical plants enjoy a daily mist with a hand-held spray. Grouping plants on a tray of damp gravel will also help.


Holiday watering


Most houseplants can survive being left for a couple of weeks with some preparation. Water all pots thoroughly before you leave.

Plants in large pots will be fine left in a shady room.

Those in smaller pots, the very pot-bound and plants that enjoy humidity will do better in the bath, lined with an old towel soaked in water. If direct sunlight falls on your bath, shading the window will also help.



Many plants will grow without feeding, but flowering plants are very hungry and will do best when given a weekly dose of liquid feed.

When moving plants into bigger pots, add a few granules of slow-release fertiliser to the compost, but follow the manufacturer's guidelines to avoid overfeeding.



Most plants are easy to look after. Pinch off dying flowers with your thumb and forefinger and remove any damaged or yellowing leaves and voila a magnificent environment with just a little effort!!

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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Money Coin Bank (Wednesday, 29 March 2017 08:14)

    people frequently delve into the levels to compensate for the ease of farming, and up to a point you'd be right.

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