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The Myths and Realities of Air-Purifying Plants

“Air-purifying plants” are gaining popularity as a method of cleaning indoor air with the intention that we can all breathe a little easier while keeping our homes vibrant and green.

The idea is that houseplants can help remove toxins and other air pollutants, improving air quality and making your home healthier — but is it true? Can houseplants really purify the air, or is it all a myth?

You have questions, and Neoplants is happy to deliver some answers, straight from our lab.

Do Plants Really Purify the Air?

Plants do more than just look nice in your living room — they actually have properties that may help remove pollutants from the air to contribute to better health.

(Though we’re sad to say there’s a catch, which we’ll talk about very shortly).

Studies have shown that certain indoor plants have mechanisms that could help remove pollutants, harmful chemicals, and toxins from the air (think carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides).

How Effective Are Plants at Air Purification? The Reality

Here's where things get a little tricky.

Several studies certainly show that greenery that ends up in people’s homes does have the innate biological mechanisms to purify the air.

One study shows that a potted Hedera helix can remove HCHO faster from the environment, thus improving indoor air quality, and another study shows that Areca palm potted plants can effectively reduce VOC levels.

Even more, studies also show a significant decrease in TVOC amount after adding plants to classrooms in primary schools in Portugal.

The ability of plants to take up VOCs is an area of rising interest, It isn’t as clearcut, however, that their efficacy at doing this in a typical indoor environment.

To be specific, you would need dozens of houseplants in order to have any real impact in a complex indoor environment, such as a bedroom.

What Are the Most Common Houseplants for Better Air Quality?

All of that said, many people still enjoy having houseplants around, even if the “air purifying” that those plants are doing is minimal at most.

Here are the most common houseplants you’ll find online in the air-purification category, which still serve to provide some nice greenery and aesthetic in your home:

Spider Plant

First off is the spider plant. Not only will this low-maintenance air purifier look great in any room, but it'll also help filter out pollutants like carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. It also releases oxygen into the air at night, making it a great bedroom companion.

Peace Lily

Next up is the beautiful peace lily. This gorgeous plant will add a lush, tropical feel to any room while helping to filter out common toxins like formaldehyde and benzene. Not to mention, peace lilies are relatively low-maintenance, making them a great choice for the busy green thumb.

Weeping Fig

The weeping fig is another beautiful, lush plant that acts as a natural air purifier that’s known to remove formaldehyde, benzene, and other indoor air pollutants. Plus, not only does the weeping fig filter out harmful toxins.

Snake Plant

If you're looking for something with a bit of color, consider the snake plant. This plant is known for its striking, dark green leaves and can help eliminate toxic benzene and trichloroethylene from your home. It's also a very low-maintenance plant that loves indirect sunlight, so it's perfect for busy households.

Chinese Evergreen

Believe it or not, Chinese evergreens are on NASA's list of air-purifying plants that can help remove benzene and formaldehyde from the air, so they are especially ideal for areas with high pollution or low air circulation. In addition to its air purifying capabilities, the Chinese evergreen requires very little TLC, making it a great choice for new plant parents.

English Ivy

English Ivy is known to remove formaldehyde, benzene, and xylene from the air. It's also a climbing plant, which looks great when displayed on a door frame or window sill.

Bamboo Palm

This thick, leafy plant is perfect for adding a tropical feel to any room. Bamboo palms may also help filter out very high levels of formaldehyde in the air while adding moisture to act as a natural humidifier. Easy to care for — some say keeping bamboo in your home will bring good luck, too!


The Dracaena plant, also known as the dragon tree, is an amazing air-purifying powerhouse! It's been scientifically proven to remove toxins from the air, like formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene. This gorgeous plant is also super low-maintenance and easy to care for — all it needs is bright, indirect light and some occasional watering, and you can enjoy all the benefits of an air-cleansing dragon tree in no time.

Aloe Vera

Next, we have aloe vera, which can survive in low-light areas. It removes formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and other toxins from the air. Plus, this plant is renowned for its healing properties and ability to support the immune system. Just keep your aloe out of direct sunlight to prevent its leaves from burning.

Golden Pothos

Finally, the golden pothos is also an effective air-purifying plant. It removes potentially harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, and benzene from the air. In addition, this incredible air-cleansing plant helps reduce levels of airborne mold and bacteria, making it an especially good choice for those with respiratory issues.

Looking at the Big Picture

Instead of relying on popular beliefs and websites, we tested some of the most air purifying plants for their VOC remediation. We specifically tested their phytoremediation abilities when it comes to formaldehyde and toluene — two of the most harmful VOCs.

Results showed minimal efficacy of the Peace Lily, Spider Plant, Snake Plant, and E. aureum at taking up formaldehyde, but none of the plants tested had any significant ability to take up toluene.

The truth is that you’d need a whole lot of plants to have any significant impact on your indoor air quality.

Unless you're on a mission to convert your living space into a greenhouse, we’re proud to introduce a new plant to clear your air: Neo P1.

What's Neo P1, you ask? This super plant is up to 30 times more effective at cleaning your indoor air than the most depolluting regular houseplants. Neo P1 works to convert harmful VOCs, like toluene, into water and amino acids.

Neoplants: The New Era of Plants

The next era of plants is here — and it's better than ever. As technology advances, so does the way we interact with plants. Through the use of air-filtering plants like Neo P1 and other emerging technologies, we'll be able to improve air quality and reduce toxins in our indoor environments.

Here at Neoplants, we're on a mission to put nature at the heart of innovation to drive positive change. That's why we spent the last several years building the first generation of bioengineered plants that fight air pollution.

A new variety of the Golden Pothos, Neo P1, doesn't store pollutants as a typical houseplant does. Instead, Neo P1 recycles them into useful metabolites. And unlike bulky air purifying machines, which may not always live up to expectations, Neo P1 takes up very little space while adding a perfect touch of greenery.

That way, rather than adding another machine to your home, you can just enjoy a kick-ass plant: beautiful and useful.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, air-purifying plants aren’t quite an effective way to improve indoor air quality, which is why they’re always used in conjunction with other methods to achieve any kind of results.

So what are you waiting for? We’ve done our homework (and then some) to bring you Neo P1 — the first and only plant bioengineered to purify the air in your home.

Explore Neo P1 here, where you can also join the waitlist to be one of the first to experience plant bioengineering and the future of clean air.


The Role of Indoor Plants in air Purification and Human Health in the Context of COVID-19 Pandemic: A Proposal for a Novel Line of Inquiry | Frontiers

Interior Landscape Plants for Indoor Air Pollution Abatement

Reduce Indoor Air Pollution with Houseplants Part 1: Aloe Vera and Peace Lily | Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners

Spider Plants and Clean Air | The National Wildlife Federation

Do Snake Plants Clean The Air? | Breathe Better Air

Reduce Indoor Air Pollution with Houseplants Part 1: Aloe Vera and Peace Lily | Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners

Study: Indoor air cleaners fall short on removing volatile organic compounds | MIT News

Plants that Clean the Air | Green America

11 Houseplants That Clean the Air You Breathe | Goodnet

Houseplants suck up air pollutants that can sicken people | SN Explores

Reduce Indoor Air Pollution with Houseplants Part 2: Golden Pothos and Snake Plant | Sfemg

Can ornamental potted plants remove volatile organic compounds from indoor air? A review | NCBI

Investigation of A Potted Plant (Hedera helix) with Photo-Regulation to Remove Volatile Formaldehyde for Improving Indoor Air Quality | Aerosol and Air Quality Research

Mitigation of indoor air pollutants using Areca palm potted plants in real-life settings | SpringerLink

Could Houseplants Improve Indoor air Quality in Schools? | T and F Online

Potted plants do not improve indoor air quality: a review and analysis of reported VOC removal efficiencies | Nature

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