Do Succulents Clean the Air? – 4 Succulent ‘Air Purifiers’ You Might Want To Have In Your House

Do Succulents Clean the Air?

In our modern world, there are lots of toxins floating around in the air.

Don’t you think?

Outside, we get exposed to toxins from things like car exhaust and industrial facilities. We think that we get a break from pollution when we step inside, but our homes and offices still have harmful chemicals.

Radiation is a real thing, unfortunately.

Also, outdoor air can make its way inside and household items like cleaning supplies and furniture give off even more toxins.

So what can you do to improve the air quality in your home?

Luckily, if you’re a succulent plant owner, you’re already doing something to purify your air. Succulent plants can help remove toxins, improve airflow, and humidify dry indoor air.

If you don’t have any succulent plant yet, now is the time to get some! Today we’re going to tell you more about their beneficial qualities and also recommend a few succulents that do the best job of cleaning the air.

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Aloe plant in cute little white planter
@victorious___victoria

Harmful Toxins in the Air

The toxic compounds that are in your air are known as volatile organic compounds. You may expose yourself to volatile organic compounds like benzene, formaldehyde, and ammonia if you use common household products like detergent, paper towels, tissues, and cleaning products.

How ironic, cleaning supplies may or may not be that clean after all…

Studies have shown that higher levels of volatile organic compounds are found indoors. In some cases, indoor levels are up to ten times higher than outdoor levels!

This is because pollutants can take a while to disperse from indoor air. Even after you’re done cleaning, pollutants will hang around.

Yikes! Who knew that just going about your day as normal could expose you to so many harmful chemicals?

If you’re exposed to these chemicals often, you could experience symptoms like itchy eyes, sore throat, headaches, and nausea. Those symptoms sound a lot like seasonal allergies, so we wonder if some of the people who think they’re suffering from allergies are actually experiencing side effects from poor indoor air quality.

Air purifying with the corn plant
@bahargol.021

How to Remove Harmful Toxins with Succulents

We’re not saying that you need to throw away all of your household products, though! (We love our laundry detergents!) Plus, you don’t need to spend more on fancy, organic cleaning products.

The best natural solution to poor indoor air quality is plants, and NASA agrees with us too!

In the late 1980s, NASA built a fully functional home called the BioHome that could support all of the needs of one person. It had a garden, a water purification system, and a waste management system. In order to make this home energy efficient and cheap to produce, NASA made it airtight and used synthetic materials to build it.

Whenever anyone would go in there, though, their eyes would burn and they would have breathing problems. This is because the volatile organic compounds in the synthetic materials used to construct the building were polluting the air.

NASA had a solution, though—plants. They had studied volatile organic compounds in the past and knew that plants could absorb these harmful chemicals. After they added houseplants like the Snake Plant to the BioHome, testing showed that most of the pollutants were gone. Best of all, nobody reported having those nasty symptoms anymore!

If a building that caused awful symptoms like stinging eyes and respiratory difficulties could be fixed by adding house plants, then your home can surely be made safe by adding some air purifying plants!

Can you imagine sipping on some coffee with a cactus mug in NASA’s BioHome? Talk about comfy living next to your beautiful plants!

Snake plants purifying the air
@olivra.houseplants

Best Air Purifying Succulent Plants

While it may be impractical to stop using cleaning materials or build a totally eco-friendly building, you can make use of mother nature to freshen up the air you breathe. Plants release oxygen, help prevent diseases such as dry coughs and sore throats by improving the humidity, and even perk up concentration and brain capabilities.

Thanks to NASA’s extensive research trying to find the best environment for astronauts, they discovered that certain succulents are capable of getting rid of about 87% of VOCs in the air.  We take a look at four of these special succulents.

#1. The Snake Plant

The Snake Plant is one of the most resilient succulents known to man. It is a flowering plant that has its roots buried deep in tropical West Africa, spreading from eastern Nigeria to the Congo. The botanical name for the Snake Plant is Sansevieria trifasciata but it is known colloquially as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, Viper’s Bowstring Hemp, and Saint George’s Sword.

These evergreen perennials feature firm, dark green leaves with a green-grey crossbanding that grows vertically from a basal rosette. The leaves may have a yellow border along with them depending on the variety.

This die-hard plant can comfortably endure partial neglect and poor watering schedules like a champ. The Snake Plant prefers well-draining soils and should be watered only when the soil is completely dry.

Unlike most plants, the Snake Plant exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide only at night to prevent water from evaporating. NASA’s Clean Air Study found that the Snake Plant can effectively filter benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, trichloroethylene, and toluene that have been causes of sick building syndrome.

snake plant in white pot
@Pixabay

#2. Aloe Vera

Referred to scientifically as Aloe barbadensis miller, Aloe vera has developed a good reputation for its anti-inflammatory properties and has found its way into food flavouring, food supplements, cosmetics as well as herbal remedies.

Originally from the Arabian Peninsula, Aloes sprout naturally in semi-tropical and arid climates and the genus contains more than 500 different species of flowering plants. This short-stemmed succulent has thick and fleshy green leaves that sometimes have white flecks on the upper and lower stem surfaces. The leaf margins are serrated and during the summer, they produce yellow pendulous flowers on a spike.

Aloes appreciate the bright direct sun and a cactus soil mixture. They cannot tolerate frost and snow and may die if overwatered. Potted Aloes can get overcrowded with pups and should be divided and repotted for better development, and to prevent pest infestations.

This stylish and practical plant not only has healing properties but it has the additional benefit of filtering out benzene and formaldehyde from the air over a period of time. Aloe is also considered an ‘oxygen bomb’ plant as it takes in high levels of carbon dioxide at night and releases a burst of oxygen when exposed to light. Additionally, Aloe vera act as an indicator because they grow brown spots on their leaves when there is a high amount of harmful chemicals in the air around them.

aloe vera
@Pixabay

#3. Red-edged Dracaena

The Red-edged dracaena goes by the scientific name Dracaena marginata and the informal name Madagascar Dragon Tree. Yes, it is native to Madagascar and as its common name suggests, the pale green leaves of this succulent have a striking red tint around the edges. This evergreen succulent has multiple thick, twisted, and woody stems and can often be confused with a palm tree.

A mature plant can grow up to 6 feet indoors or 10 feet (1 to 3 meters) outdoors, easily becoming a focal point in any enclosed space. The Red-edged dracaena likes a space with partial shade and it is not overly sensitive about soil conditions. It does not like frost or water on its leaves.

With over 40 different varieties of Dracaena plants, the Red-edged dracaena is the superior choice for air purification among other dracaena plants as it greatly decreases the levels of formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, benzene, xylene, and toluene from the air. According to NASA’s scientific study, the Red-edged dracaena can remove up to 27,292 micrograms of Trichloroethylene per day.

A point to note is this low-maintenance plant is highly toxic to both cats and dogs.

leaves of red-edged dracaena
@Pixabay

#4. Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’

Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ is a slow-growing shrub that originates throughout tropical Africa, budding from South Sudan to Mozambique, west of Côte d’Ivoire and down to southwest Angola. This plant goes by the botanical name Dracaena fragrans and is sometimes referred to as Cornstalk dracaena.

This multi-stemmed succulent is a respectable houseplant that given the right conditions can grow up to 15m (49 ft) tall. It has rigid slender branches and glossy green leaves that grow vertically and droop as the plant gets older. Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ produces clusters of highly fragrant individual flowers that are pink at first then turn white with a thin red or purple central line on the lobes. It produces an orange-red berry that contains several seeds.

On the air purifying plant chart, Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ is placed 5th on NASA’s ranking with a score of 7.8 out of 10. This plant has been proven to remove formaldehyde at a rate of 1,328 micrograms per hour and Xylene at 154 micrograms per hour. Dracaena ‘Janet Craig’ has been noted as one of the best houseplants tested for removing trichloroethylene and controlling the humidity inside a room. This plant will do wonders for the air in a newly furnished or carpeted room.

dracaena 'janet craig'
@diggardens

If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

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