7 pollen-free house plants which are easy to grow, safe and which purify the air in your home





I must confess, I’m a house plant serial killer.  The one and only plant I have ever managed to keep alive over the long term was a cactus.  I got it from my gran when I was little and it sat for years on a shelf behind my toilet, until one day my cat decided it was in her way and sent it flying to the ground.  It never recovered and I was gutted.  Since then, my track record with house plants has essentially amounted to trying, failing and giving them to someone else before it’s too late.  Then I’ve been able to watch as the half-dead plant recovered and thrived, proving, as if I there was ever any doubt, that there was nothing wrong with the plant, it was me.  I’ve decided, however, that 2018 is going to be the year I finally (start to) learn to keep plants alive.

The reason I never really bothered that much about the fact that I’m useless at growing plants, is because up until recently I thought of them mainly as for decoration.  I did know they helped to reduce carbon dioxide levels, but I had absolutely no idea how much plants did to clean the air in general.  Then I read about how NASA was investigating how plants could be used to create a pleasant environment on space stations and had identified 19 plants, which were particularly useful in this regard because they can remove toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, which can cause health issues.

After learning about this, I decided to do some investigating of my own and have whittled down this list down to 7 plants which stand a decent chance of surviving life with someone like me and which are safe to have around children and pets in the sense that they are not toxic to the touch (as far as I have been able to determine), obviously you don’t want your plants to be eaten for anyone’s sake.

So, from now on, I’ll be aiming to bring at least some of these plants into my home in a mindful way to enjoy them both as decoration and as a means of keeping the air in my home clean without resorting to gadgets or, ironically, chemicals.

Aloe Vera

I’d heard of Aloe Vera as a healing plant but I never knew it was good at cleaning the air and particularly good at removing formaldehyde.  Aloe Vera does like a lot of sunshine (it’s essentially a desert plant) so sadly I’m not sure whether it’s worthwhile trying to grow it where I live (bonnie Scotland, where rainfall vastly outweighs sunshine).  On the other hand, cacti seem to do OK here (indoors of course), so maybe I shall give it a go!

Dragon Plants

There are over 40 varieties of Dragon Plants and they are all amazing at purifying the air.  They also prefer to be out of direct light; in fact, they thrive best in slightly shaded conditions and need a fairly high level of humidity, so they tend to do well in bathrooms.  If you use them elsewhere, you will probably need to spray them regularly.

(Boston) Fern

Ferns do a pretty good job of purifying the air and are also very suitable for the dim and humid conditions in the average bathroom.  What’s more, you can get small ferns and hang them from the ceiling, where they will trail down happily making for great decoration and taking up otherwise unused space.

(English) Ivy

Outdoors, Ivy can be a liability since it can be strong enough to damage walls.  Indoors, ivy is one of the best natural air purifiers there is and is a superb choice for bathrooms not only because it thrives in the dim and humid conditions of the average bathroom, but also because it can actually help to deal with mould, which is a common problem in bathrooms plus, like ferns, it can be hung from the ceiling and used as decoration as well as for its health benefits.

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant

This plant takes its name from its long, slender leaves but perhaps it would be better known as the bathroom plant because it thrives in humid conditions and is perfectly happy with only a minimal level of light.  What’s more, it is not only great at purifying the air in general, but is particularly good at filtering out formaldehyde, which is found in many chemical cleaners.

Peace Lily

While the name may suggest a delicate bloom, the Peace Lily is actually pretty robust as well as pretty to look at.  It’s also excellent for purifying the air and will help to eliminate benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde.

Spider Plant

Not only is the humble Spider Plant as hardy as they come and able to thrive in just about any conditions, but it’s great at purifying the air, reducing odours and clearing out toxins such as formaldehyde.

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