8 Houseplants That Improve Your Home’s Look & Indoor Air Quality

Lately, many people are looking to their homes as a place of sanctuary and safety. One way to bring calm to your home is to bring the outdoors in. Enter: the houseplant! Not only do plants add beauty and color to our homes, but some can improve the air quality, too. You don’t have to turn your home into a greenhouse, but using plants to beautify and purify your home is a no-brainer. 

If you’re on the hunt for houseplants to improve the look and air quality of your home, I’ve gathered 8 of my favorites for you below. Breathe easy and enjoy these luscious greens!

Throughout this post, you’ll see me refer to a “pebble tray” to increase the humidity levels around some plants. To create one, simply put some pebbles you’d find at a craft store into a plastic watering tray and fill the tray with water, ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the base of the pot. Keep an eye on the tray and refill as necessary.

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Bamboo Plant

If you’re looking to bring a little luck indoors, try a bamboo plant. Bamboo plants are thick, lush, and sturdy. However, their thin fronds add an air of delicacy. Because of their verdant growth, they’re a great choice for a well-lit corner. They’ll grow tall and fill a room well. 

As far as care is concerned, these are pretty easy. They love humidity, so try a pebble tray or mist them with water regularly. However, you can let the soil itself dry 2-3 inches before watering, making this air purifying plant beginner-friendly. Bamboo plants like bright, filtered light and will grow towards it – make sure you rotate the plant every time you water to maintain straight growth!

Bamboo plants are known to filter benzene and trichloroethylene (TCE), both of which are carcinogens. These are mildly toxic to pets, so be careful. 

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Pothos is a beautiful plant that grows in a vine-like tendril of vibrant green leaves. With the right light, its shiny leaves will take on a marbled green and white variegation. If you love the look of your pothos, you’re in luck – they propagate easily by placing cuttings into water. 

Pothos were included in a clean air study from NASA (yes, NASA!) and were found to filter benzene as well as formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and xylene (an irritant that can cause headaches and dizziness, among other symptoms).

They prefer bright and indirect light, but can tolerate low light if necessary. Let pothos soil dry out between watering. These plants are poisonous, so keep them out of reach from little hands and four-legged friends. A tip: let the tendrils grow across door and window frames as well as mantels to add greenery while keeping everyone safe.

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Chinese Evergreen

One of the biggest reasons to love Chinese evergreen: its colors! You can buy all-green plants if that’s your thing, but personally I like a pop of color from my plants and these deliver! You can find vibrant pinks and oranges or add some sparkle with silver leaves. Chinese evergreens will grow 1-2 feet tall and would make a beautiful choice to highlight in a plant stand.

The Chinese evergreen prefers a humid environment with regular watering. While they can tolerate shade, the more indirect light you give them the more vibrant their colors will be. But don’t fry the leaves with direct sun! Like pothos, they’re toxic to pets and children, so be careful.

Chinese evergreens improve your home’s indoor air quality by filtering benzene, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and TCE.


Snake Plant (Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)

What a name! This thin, easy-care plant is something I always suggest for the first-time plant owner. Different variations reach different heights, but in general they’ll grow rather tall with the right care. You’ll find snake plants in green, light green, or yellow and green varieties. I like to use snake plants on a mantle or next to a fireplace to draw the eye up and highlight a tall ceiling.

Like I said, these plants are very easy-care. You can almost forget about them entirely when it comes to watering, especially in the winter. They’ll tolerate any light and are mildly toxic when ingested. Improve your indoor air quality with a snake plant to filter benzene and formaldehyde from your home.

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If you think Chinese evergreens come in lots of varieties, I’ve got news for you! The Dracaena plant has over 40 varieties, meaning there’s something for everyone. Whether you want a tree-like plant or a shrub, Dracaena can do it. Yellow leaves? Yep. Bright green? You got it. I think you get the idea – no matter the space or style of your room, a Dracaena will fit the bill!

The varieties differ, but the care is the same. Water them regularly when soil is dry 1 inch deep. They prefer bright and filtered (not direct) light or part shade. They’re toxic to pets, but filter benzene, formaldehyde, TCE, xylene, and toluene from the air.

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Rubber Tree

Despite the name, rubber trees are not flexible or bendy! They are, however, quite stunning. A common name for several types of plants, the most common rubber trees have rich, dark green leaves similar to that of the southern magnolia. Just as it sounds, these plants will grow into full trees that will become a focal point in your home as it purifies and improves the indoor air quality.

Rubber trees enjoy a humid environment with frequent, regular watering. Like other plants on this list, the right light can make the leaves really shine (literally, their leaves get shinier)! Keep it in bright and filtered light, like that from a north-facing window.

The large leaves of a rubber tree make them excellent for absorbing carbon dioxide. While these are toxic to ingest, the sap can also cause a mild to serious rash so keep them away from curious little hands!


Nerve Plant

If you love the idea of large house plants but don’t have the space for them, the nerve plant (also called a mosaic plant) could be for you. They typically grow 3-6 inches tall, adding color and beauty to your home without taking up precious space. You’ll find nerve plants in green, red, and pink shades among others. 

Nerve plants enjoy indirect sun to part shade, which mimics the understory of the tropic forests in which they naturally grow. Do not let their soil dry out completely! While they can tolerate a dry out once or twice, repeated neglect will cause the plant to die. But like Goldilocks, they need water conditions to be just right. Don’t overwater! These purifying plants enjoy humidity while filtering benzene, TCE, and toluene.

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Plants always add beauty to our homes, but these plants are putting in the work, too. I love when form meets function like this! One final tip to become a master indoor gardener: be sure to dust the leaves of your plants regularly, as you’d dust any other surface in your home.

Leaves are how a plant processes light (remember photosynthesis from your high school biology class? Now you do!). It’s also how they absorb pollutants as well, so if you want your plants to really improve your indoor air quality, make sure you’re showing them some TLC so they can do their job!

Happy planting!

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