Canada's Condominium Magazine

Three must-have plants to keep your home’s air fresh

Maybe it’s spring, maybe not so much. Maybe this weekend would be a good time to bring something green into the home, just to further the illusion that spring is imminent. If that idea strikes your fancy, here are three plants you should consider for three compelling reasons. They are easy to care for. They are pleasing to look at. And they are good for you.

Good for the air you breathe, to be more accurate. Each of these plants is endorsed by no less than India’s renowned environmentalist/visionary, Kamal Meattle, who has demonstrated their effectiveness at cleansing interior air in a model commercial building in New Delhi, India. Meattle says that his research, which included looking at studies done by NASA, led him to realize that these three plants are all we need to provide clean air inside our buildings. He has a personal interest in this: as he states in his TED Talk (see video) he became allergic to the air in New Delhi some years ago.

Areca palm
The Areca palm (Chrsysalidocarpus lutescens) brings a hint of the tropics to any home, and it is especially good at converting CO2 to oxygen.

The first of the three is the common Areca palm (Chrsysalidocarpus lutescens). Meattle says that for maximum benefit you should have four of these—they grow to about four feet in height—per person in the space. That is likely more than the average person would want, but you can still benefit from the plant’s purifying powers if you buy just one. The areca palm, like other plants, removes CO2 from the air and replaces it with oxygen. It does it more efficiently, which is why it is recommended.

Mother-in-law’s tongue

Mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) is dead easy to maintain and repays you by converting CO2 to oxygen at night. Recommended for bedrooms.

The mother-in-law’s tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) is one of those plants that seems to thrive best when left alone. During winter, it needs watering just once every couple of months. Again, Meattle recommends eight of them per person to get the maximum CO2-to-oxygen conversion, but buy what you’re comfortable with. They do create a nice hedge effect when lined up side by side. Meattle refers to this as “the bedroom plant,” because it does its work at night. Higher levels of oxygen in the bedroom could be associated with better sleep. Caution: this plant is toxic to cats.

Money plant
Money plant or golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum). This common plant is recommended by NASA for its air-purifying abilities. It removes formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds from the air.

The third plant on the list is the money plant, also known as golden pothos or Devil’s ivy (Epipremnum aureum). It is a climber/spreader, that will quickly take over whatever space you put it in, so some pruning is required to keep it in check. Its great virtue, in terms of air quality, is its ability to remove toxins like formaldehyde from the air. If you have reason to believe that something in your home is releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into your air, this plant could help remove them. Some of the symptoms could be itchy eyes, headaches and allergic reactions. VOCs can come from paints and lacquers, carpets, drapery, upholstery, cleaning supplies, office equipment (copiers, printers), markers, and so on.

The money plant is also considered to have good feng shui properties, bringing good luck and fortune to the owner, so there’s an extra benefit for this one. Caution: this plant is toxic if chewed or eaten by humans or pets.


Auberge on the Park-Tridel


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