Back in the 1980s, NASA was looking for solutions to indoor air pollution for everything from real homes to theoretical space colonies, and the results of one study found some species of houseplants were capable of removing one of the major classes of air pollutants from within controlled experimental chambers over a 24-hour period.
Scientists today contend plants can’t make much of a dent under real-world, uncontrolled indoor air pollution circumstances unless you have so many of them in a room they crowd out any people trying to get in.
But having plants in your home or office does reduce stress and improve your mood, so those are two really good reasons to keep them around. And these five were among the top performers in that NASA study, so they’re probably going to do even more for your environment than most!
- Ficus (weeping fig) — These tropical evergreens generally don’t get taller than 3 to 6 feet inside but are fast growers. They sport lots of glossy dark-green leaves that may drop when they’re stressed. Needs bright, but filtered, sun and fast-drying soil.
- Gerbera daisy — These brilliant flowering plants are mostly grown outdoors but can thrive in sunny rooms where they get lots of indirect sunlight. They should be watered when dry to the touch, since overwatering can lead to root rot as well as crown rot.
- Mass cane — Also known as corn plants, these have canelike stems that produce long, slender green leaves with a yellowish stripe down the middle. Good for newbies or nervous plant parents because they are low maintenance, grow in any kind of soil as long as it’s well-drained, and do best in low to medium light conditions.
- Potted mums — Potted chrysanthemums are one of the most popular flowers for growing indoors as well as flower arranging. Keep their soil moist and fertilize them regularly for best results, keeping them away from drafts; remove faded flowers.
- Warneckeii — From the same undemanding dracaena family as the mass cane, they’re distinguished by their white striping and ability to grow just about anywhere.