Voice of Boyce: 10 plants to purify household air

What is brown, causes respiratory issues, and is one of the biggest complaints among Utahns?

(Photo by Patrick Ramsay) Haworthia attenuata, also known as zebra plants for their stripes, are a commonly owned indoor plant.
(Photo by Patrick Ramsay) Haworthia attenuata, also known as zebra plants for their stripes, are a commonly owned indoor plant.

The dreaded inversion. It blocks the beautiful views of our wonderful state, hides the sun from shining on our faces, and can lead to significant health issues. How can one battle this matter? There have been several suggestions, but very few of those actually get to the root of the problem of bad air.

Right around the corner on Jan. 10 is Houseplant Appreciation Day. This single day is dedicated to all of those green, luscious, full plants that provide color and freshness to your home — that is, if you have a green thumb.

According to the Mother Nature Network, NASA ran a two-year study and found 10 plants that were able to remove benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air.

Benzene is found in synthetic fibers, plastics and paints. Formaldehyde is emitted from foam insulation, plywood and other sources throughout your home. Trichloroethylene is found in paints and varnishes.

In order to commemorate this special day and to help you all combat the haze and achieve more clean air, I now provide the top-10 list of plants from NASA’s research.

1. Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)

The peace lily will remove benzene and trichloroethylene from the air. Place it in a shady place, and avoid overwatering. It is poisonous if ingested, so keep away from hungry humans and your favorite pets.

2. Golden pothos (Scindapsus aures)

The golden pothos is a vine that will remove formaldehyde. It can be placed anywhere in the home and requires a good watering once a week. It is the perfect vine for busy college students.

3. English ivy (Hedera helix)

English ivy will filter formaldehyde from your home. The plant thrives in a cool, moist place, such as on the outside wall of a Tudor home. It is poisonous, so again, keep it away from your hungry friends and fluffy animals.

4. Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium)

Chrysanthemum will filter benzene and formaldehyde from the air. This plant is characterized by pretty, bright-colored flowers. It does well in direct sunlight. So do your best keeping it alive during the winter.

5. Gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

The Gerbera daisy is the flower of choice among Utah weddings, and few know how powerful it is at filtering toxins. (Those lucky brides with clean air!) It will remove benzene and trichloroethylene, all while standing tall in many bright spring colors. This plant is similar to the chrysanthemum in that it requires a lot of sunlight.

6. Mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii)

The mother-in-law’s tongue — which by far has the coolest name in the list — filters formaldehyde and would qualify as an excellent plant for college students. It requires little maintenance and would just like a drink every once in a while.

7. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea sefritzii)

The bamboo palm will rid your air of formaldehyde. This plant is a little high-maintenance. Its soil must remain moist, and the plant thrives in indirect sunlight. Like any girlfriend, you may need to give it a little extra attention.

8. Azalea (Rhododendron simsii)

The azalea comes in a wide range of color when in blooms. It does a great job at filtering formaldehyde and prefers a consistent 65 degrees and direct sunlight. Perfect for springtime or those who like to sleep in cold rooms.

9. Red-edge dracaena (Dracaena marginata)

The red-edge dracaena is a monster of a plant. It can grow up to 15 feet and is boss at removing benzene and trichloroethylene. This plant may not be the best for college students, unless you can handle a consistent 75-degree temperature, but it would look cool in your shared apartment!

10. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

The spider plant is another excellent choice for college students. Not only will your apartment be free from formaldehyde, it requires little maintenance, allowing you to work hard and play hard during this semester.

Our homes can be a sanctuary from the grime of the inversion. So add a few green friends to your living space and reap the benefits of healthy air!