These plants aren't just pretty, they're good for you, too.

By Christie Calucchia and Christina Oehler
Updated June 05, 2020
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Those lush, plant-filled interiors you see all over Instagram aren't just beautiful decor. Houseplants can actually improve air quality and make your space a lot healthier, and research reveals the serious health benefits that come from decorating your home with live botanicals. They promote overall well-being by boosting your mood and making you feel calmer, and certain plants can even remove toxins from the air.

NASA studied how plants can purify air while looking into how long humans could live in space. The study found that many common varieties of houseplants are effective in eliminating chemicals, such as formaldehyde—which is used in some building materials and in the production of certain household products linked to cancer. A more recent study, conducted in 2009 by the American Society for Horticultural Science, also found that some plant species can remove VOCs (volatile organic pollutants, like benzene and trichloroethylene) from the air.

If creating a healthy indoor environment is your main goal, there are specific houseplants to invest in for air purification. B.C. Wolverton, PhD, one of the original scientists who worked on the NASA study, determined that the best plants for removing toxins in the air based on four distinct criteria: Their ability to remove chemical vapors, how easy they are to grow and maintain, their resistance to insect infestation, and their rates of transpiration (evaporation of water from plant leaves).

Additionally, Vadoud Niri, PhD lead a similar study in 2016 investigating if houseplants could remove VOCs from indoor air, and found that some plants were more effective than others. Based on Niri’s research and Wolverton’s conclusions (which can be found in his book, How to Grow Fresh Air). here are 10 of the best indoor plants proven to purify air. Keep scrolling to shop these healthy houseplants and introduce a bit of greenery into your home.

Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus Lutescens)

Amazon

This palm tree thrives in bright spaces and is perfect for sprucing up any room in your home. It’s an eye-catching, lush houseplant that’ll look good while absorbing air pollutants.

available at amazon.com, $20 

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)

Amazon

It's effective at removing toxic substances from the air, and the spider plant's wild long leaves add a trendy boho-chic look to any space.

available at amazon.com, $27 

Lady Palm (Rhapis Excelsa)

Amazon

Because this plant is slow-growing, it makes for a long-lasting houseplant that looks stylish, too. It features multiple bamboo-like trunks and removes toxins.

available at amazon.com, $25

Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica)

The Sill

This tropical tree thrives in medium to bright indirect sunlight, and it's sometimes referred to as the rubber plant because it produces a latex sap once used to make rubber. Although it looks a bit synthetic, rest assured that it is real, and it’ll help clean the air in your home.

available at thesill.com, $52

Bromeliad (Guzmania Lingulata)

Amazon

An easy to care for table plant, the Bromeliad is fairly drought-tolerant, though you’ll want to do your best to water the top inch of soil without letting it become too saturated (so it can maintain its gorgeous appearance). It thrives in indoor light—making this a great option for a home office or any room without tons of natural light—and has been proven to remove pollutants from the air.

available at amazon.com, $22

Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena Deremensis)

Amazon

This durable houseplant will stay alive even in low indoor lighting—so if you have a dimly lit apartment, this may be the air purifying plant for you. All it takes is a bit of water when the soil looks dry to keep your home’s air as healthy as possible. Talk about easy upkeep.

available at amazon.com, $15

English Ivy (Hedera Helix)

Amazon

The long and lavish vines on this plant make for a striking decoration in any home. Go for a bohemian look and pot one in a hanging planter to let it freely climb the walls as it reduces indoor air pollution (and even harmful allergens like mold and fungus).

available at amazon.com, $20

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum Wallisii)

1-800Flowers.com

As a super popular indoor air purifying plant, the beautiful Peace Lily is part leafy plant and part delicate flower. Although it looks elegant and gentle, the plant means business when it comes to removing toxins from your home.

available at 1800flowers.com, from $45

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis Exaltata)

Amazon

Another plant that would look lovely in a hanging planter or perched high up on a shelf where its thick leaves can grow on full display, the Boston Fern is easy to care for and actually thrives indoors (unlike many other plants). It simply requires regular watering and a light misting every now and then while it cleans the air and boosts your mood.

available at amazon.com, $36

Weeping Fig (Ficus Benjamina)

Courtesy of Amazon.com

This perfectly sized plant is great for any small space that needs a pop of color. While it's great for any indoor room, it's typically grown outdoors, so be sure to give it ample sunlight and water.

available at amazon.com, $44

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