How Many Plants Are Needed to Purify Indoor Air?

Dragon plant (front) and snake plant
The Madagascar dragon tree (Dracaena marginata) and snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata Laurentii) are two common houseplants that are easy to grow and have beneficial values.

Specific recommendations for the number of indoor plants to install for air purification vary based on your indoor situation and personal preferences. However, here is a general guide that can help you get started on your indoor plant ecology design. To improve health and reduce fatigue and stress, place one large plant (8-inch diameter pot or larger) every 129 square feet. In office or classroom settings, position plants so each person has greenery in view.

To purify air, use 15 to 18 plants in 6- to 8-inch diameter pots for an 1,800-square-foot house. That’s roughly one larger plant every 100 square feet. Achieve similar results with two smaller plants (4- to 5-inch pots).

Remember that for the best success with any houseplant, you need to match the right plant to the right growing conditions. Learn more in Tips for Healthy Houseplants. For low light situations, choose a plant adapted to those conditions.

Best Plants for Indoor Use
Common Name Latin Name Benefit Best Use
Spider Plant Chlorophytum comosum Purifies air rapidly; removes formaldehyde Living area
Dragon Tree Dracaena marginata Purifies air; removes formaldehyde, benzene, toluene and xylene Living areas
Gerbera Daisey 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 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
Philodendron Philodendron Purifies air; removes formaldehyde 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 Spathiphyllum Removes mold from air Bathrooms or damp areas of home

Alternative plant varieties besides those listed can provide beneficial results.

Besides the dragon tree, other dracaenas can be installed indoor with similar results: 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 to Philodendron include Pothos , bamboo palm , Chinese evergreen , and weeping fig .

Information presented in this article is adapted from:Bayer-Advanced Learning Center

Find out more details about what harmful chemicals specific houseplants can absorb to purify your indoor air in this article by Matthew Sullivan: 15 Best Air Purifying Plants for Cleaner Indoor Air.

Read more about how to select plants to keep your home environment clean and healthy in this Plant Care Today blog: 17 Best Bathroom Plants, How to Use and Choose, Low Ligh, No Light


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