This large group of houseplants offers selections in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The tall corn plant (D. fragrans ‘Massangeana’) looks at home in a corner, while the colorful striped leaves of ‘Lemon Lime’ (D. deremensis ‘Lemon Lime’) and the day-glow ‘Limelight’ (D. deremensis ‘Limelight’) brighten up a dark spot. These selections flourish in low light, while the Madagascar Dragon Tree (D. marginata) prefers bright light.
Care: There’s a dracaena for every light situation. Keep the soil damp but not soggy. A pot sitting in a water-filled saucer is the kiss of death for this plant. Feed monthly during spring and summer with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer.
Eliminates: formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, trichloroethylene
In the 1980s, NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America discovered that peace lilies absorb benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more. To maximize the plant’s air-cleansing potential, keep the foliage dust-free. Pristine white blooms are a bonus with this efficient plant.
Care: The peace lily thrives in both low and bright light. Keep the soil slightly moist and feed monthly during spring and summer with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer. Low-light conditions inhibit flower production.
Eliminates: formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, xylene, ammonia, and more
Virtually indestructible, golden pothos consistently grows in high gear and is considered one of the most effective indoor purifiers of the plant world. Show it off in a hanging basket or place in small 6-inch pots at the base of a tall indoor tree (such as the Dracaena corn plant) to cascade over the pot’s edge. The newest selection, ‘Neon,’ boasts brilliant, glowing foliage.
Care: Golden pothos grows in any light situation except direct sunlight. Water it when the soil becomes dry to the touch. Feed monthly with an all-purpose liquid plant food and trim long tendrils when the plant becomes too large.
Eliminates: formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene, carbon monoxide, and more
Rubber Tree Plant
Rubber plants are evergreen trees from India. Tropical in appearance, they make handsome container specimens. Leaves are typically broad, deep green and shiny. However, some varieties exhibit cream variegated and purple tinged foliage. Roots are produced ‘aerially,’ which oftentimes entwine around the trunk forming interesting entangled shapes and buttressing. Tests have shown that rubber plants are especially efficient at removing formaldehyde from the air.
Care: Grow in full or bright, filtered light. When in growth, water moderately and apply a high nitrogen fertilizer monthly. Keep the compost moist in winter. Some pruning may be necessary to reduce plant size. Retain leaf shine by wiping with a damp cloth periodically.
Eliminates: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and more
This easy-to-grow, sun-loving succulent helps clear formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more. Aloe is a smart choice for a sunny kitchen window. Beyond its air-clearing abilities, the gel inside an aloe plant can help heal cuts and burns.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Even if you tend to neglect houseplants, you’ll have a hard time killing this resilient plant. With lots of rich foliage and tiny white flowers, the spider plant battles benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing industries. As an added bonus, this plant is also considered a safe houseplant if you have pets in the house.
Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, this plant is one of the best for filtering out formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products, toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. Put one in your bathroom — it’ll thrive with low light and steamy humid conditions while helping filter out air pollutants.
Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum ‘Deborah’)
This easy-to-care-for plant can help filter out a variety of air pollutants and begins to remove more toxins as time and exposure continues. Even with low light, it will produce blooms and red berries.
Heartleaf philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium)
This climbing vine plant isn’t a good option if you have kids or pets — it’s toxic when eaten, but it’s a workhorse for removing all kinds of VOCs. Philodendrons are particularly good at battling formaldehyde from sources like particleboard.