Improve Your Home's Air Quality With These Houseplants

These low-maintenance plants — many of which are pet-friendly — also add charm and character to your space.
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Bringing houseplants into your home not only adds character and a bit of nature to the space, but they are quite literally a breath of fresh air. As it happens, your favorite houseplants are doing their part to keep your home a beautiful and healthy space. What could be better than adding personality and charm to your home while also improving air quality? It’s a win-win.

Erin Marino, editorial lead and plant expert at The Sill, walked us through the ways in which houseplants can improve indoor air quality.

“Through photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen,” she explained. “Through transpiration, plants increase humidity.”

She also noted that there has been a lot of conversation around houseplants removing volatile organic compounds from indoor air.

“Indoor plants are not the final answer to better air quality, but they can absolutely be a part of the solution,” Marino said.

“They have the ability to exchange water and gases with their surroundings,” she explained. “Plants capture these indoor pollutants and convert them into stored energy, releasing naturally filtered air as a byproduct. They do this by absorbing the pollutants through their leaves and transmitting the toxins to their roots where they’re converted into a food source.”

Marino said some people hypothesize that bigger, leafier plants are better for improving the quality of indoor air. However, she noted that not much research has been done to compare different plant species in this way.

“Most studies, including NASA’s famous 1989 experiment, were conducted in sealed, controlled environments, making it difficult to translate to our everyday conditions,” she said.

Still, you can absolutely benefit from bringing plants inside.

“Other studies have shown that indoor plants can boost your mood, reduce your stress, and even make you a more productive employee,” Marino said. “Even brief exposure to nature can elicit an unconscious calming effect.”

Because winter is a wonderful time to add lush greenery to your home and make your surroundings feel a little more vibrant, we rounded up some of our favorite low-maintenance, air-purifying houseplants — many of which are even safe for your furry friends to be around.

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1
A parlor palm
Parlor palms have been popular houseplants since the Victorian era. They're low-maintenance with sweet frizzy tropical fronds that are pet-friendly.

Get it from The Sill for $67.
2
A zz plant
A great low-light option is the hardy zz plant, which Marino said "can go weeks without water."

However, she also cautioned that low-light doesn't mean "no light" — you'll still want a window or grow light nearby.

Get it from The Sill for $52.
3
A snake plant
If you’re looking for a houseplant that’s low-light tolerant, Marino recommends opting for a snake plant. It has air-purifying capabilities and is also drought-tolerant, so you can mainly ignore it and watch it thrive.

Get it from The Sill for $55.
4
A Boston fern
The Boston fern can withstand drier conditions than most ferns, making it a great starter fern if you have been nervous about purchasing one in the past. It's pet-friendly and pretty as a picture.

Get it from Plants.com for $35.99.
5
An orchid
An orchid is an elegant, chic bloom that will never go out of style. Plus, they're good for us, good for our pets (Marino said orchids have been deemed nontoxic by the ASPCA) and good for air quality.

Get it from The Sill for $98.
6
A ric-rac cactus
A sweet ric-rac cactus is pet-friendly, whimsical and adds a bit of unexpected texture to plant collections. It will even bloom — if you're lucky.

Get it from The Sill for $58.
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