Breathing Easier

Your body takes in oxygen when you breathe and releases carbon dioxide.  Plants, during photosynthesis, take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. People and plants are natural partners. At night the process reverses in most plants, orchids, succulents and epiphytic bromeliads are exceptions and make them obvious choices for sleeping areas where they will refresh the air during the night.

Releasing Water

During photosynthetic plants release moisture vapor, which increases the humidity of the air around them. Roughly 97% of the water taken in by plants is released into the atmosphere. Placing several plants together can increase the humidity of a room.  This, in turn, helps keep respiratory distresses at bay. The Agricultural University of Norway has reported that using plants in interior spaces decreases the incidence of sore throats, dry skin, colds, and dry coughs.

Purifying Air

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are all around us. These include benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents, and paint).  VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke, and grocery bags), benzene, and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents, and paint). Benzene is also, often found in high concentrations in library and study settings, where printed papers and books abound. Plants remove up to 87% of toxins from the air every 24 hours, according to NASA research.

Web source:

Modern climate-controlled, air-tight buildings trap VOCs inside. NASA research discovered that plants purify that trapped air by pulling contaminants into soil, where root zone microorganisms convert VOCs into food for the plant. Web Source:

Improving Health

Kansas State University has research that shows that by adding plants to hospital rooms surgical patients’ recovery speeds are improved.  The patients with plants in their rooms experience less fatigue and anxiety, have lower heart rates and blood pressure, request fewer pain medications, and are released from the hospital sooner.

A workplace study commission by The Dutch Product Board found that adding plants to office settings decreases colds, headaches, fatigue, coughs, flu-like symptoms, and sore throats. Another study by the Agricultural University of Norway showed that the rat of sickness declined by 60 plus percent in the office with plants.

Sharpening Focus

The Royal College of Agriculture in Cirencester, England, in a study, found that when students are taught in a room containing plants, they demonstrate 70% greater attentiveness. The same study showed that attendance was higher at lectures given in rooms with plants.


How Many Plants?

The depends on what your goals are.

At Home: Placing on the large plant (8-inch diameter pot), every 129 square feet will help to improve health and reduce stress and fatigue.

In the Office or Classroom: Plants should be placed so the greenery is in view of every person.

Air Purification: 15 to 18 plants, in 6-8 inch diameter pots should be placed for every 1,800 square feet. Or about one plant every 100 square feet. (If you cannot or choose not to use larger plants 2 small ones with a 4-inch diameter pot will do).

Not all plants will grow in all conditions.  Choosing the right plant for your growing conditions is important.  See Tips for Healthy Houseplants and For low light situations.

  Common Name Latin Name Benefits Best use


Spider Plant 



Chlorophytum comosum



Purifies air rapidly; removes formaldehyde



Living Spaces

  Dragon Tree* 


Dracaena marginata 



Purifies air; removes formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene


Living Spaces
  Gerbera Daisy**  

Gerbera jamesonii


Releases oxygen at night; purifies air by removing benzene and trichloroethylene 


Bedrooms to refresh nighttime air or living spaces
  English Ivy Hedera helix 


Removes benzene from the air 


Dorm rooms or home office
  Boston Fern 


Nephrolepis exaltata ‘Bostoniensis’  

Humidifies air


Living spaces; note that dry winter rooms can quickly kill Boston ferns; mist plants daily for best results




Purifies air; removes 



Living spaces of new or renovated homes with new floors, walls, carpets, etc.
  Snake Plant 


Sansevieria trifasciata 


Purifies air; removes formaldehyde and nitrogen oxide 

produced by fuel-burning appliances


Living spaces, kitchens, rooms with wood stoves
  Peace Lily 





Removes mold from the air


Bathrooms or damp areas of 

the home

*Other Dracaenas with similar properties: Janet Craig Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis’Janet Craig’) and corn plant (Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’).

**Gerberas make temperamental houseplants; getting them to rebloom is very challenging. It’s best to treat them like cut flowers: When the color show is over unless you love the leaves, compost them.

***Plants with similar properties: Pothos, Bamboo Palm, Chinese Evergreen, And Weeping Fig