The Best Houseplants for Clean Air and Better Health

Plants promote clean air. They also fight fatigue, stress, dry throat and headache -- at home or in the office. Here, the best houseplants for staying healthy.

from Reader's Digest | November 2011
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    Yes, there are toxins in the air around us, but there's a simple way to cut down on them — without a HEPA filter. According to the Wall Street Journal, "a growing body of global research is showing plants can reduce dust particles and contaminants, such as formaldehyde and benzene, that come from cigarette smoke, paint, furniture, building materials, and other sources." What's more, a recent study cited in the London Daily Mail found that potted plants in offices reduced fatigue, stress, dry throats, headaches, coughs, and dry skin among workers. Which plants are best for keeping you healthy? Here are a few good ones for both desks and bigger spaces — culled from the Wall Street Journal and

    1. Mother-in-Law's Tongue Hardy with tall, blade-shaped leaves, it can tolerate low light and will survive irregular watering. Perfect for black-thumbed couch-potatoes.

    2. Peace Lily

    An attractive option with a tropical look, it may droop in bright sun. It's mildly toxic when ingested, so avoid it if you have curious pets or toddlers.

    3. Janet Craig

    Glossy, deep green foliage makes this bushy plant particularly appealing. Look for species from Hawaii, and don't be tempted to overwater, which can cause leaves to develop brown and yellow spots.

    4. Spider Plant

    An easy hanging plant to grow and maintain, this species is named for its long, thin leaves that resemble spider legs. Poisonous to cats.

    5. Fig Tree

    The ficus tree can survive for years. Keep it out of direct sunlight and cold drafts, water it, and mist its leaves. Repot every other year.

    6. Rubber Tree

    A spot near a sheer-curtained window with bright, indirect sunlight is ideal for this popular plant. Keep it moist in the growing season.

    7. Boston Fern

    For maximum impact, set this long-fronded plant on a pedestal or in a hanging basket in bright, indirect sunlight.

    See also:
    The Secret to Shiny Houseplants
    Hidden Dangers for Pets at Home
    10 Tips for Planning an Indoor Garden


    Your Comments

    • MorganTilly

      Just an FYI, spider plants are NOT poisonous to cats. In fact, they act as a mild hallucinogen much like catnip, which is why many cats love chewing on the leaves.

    • FaceliftMask

      My Ficus seems to be a dust magnet. I guess that’s a good thing.

    • Dodgegirl2020

      My cats had their own spider plants for years to chew on as a tasty indoor treat. I wonder if that is why 2 lived to 18 years and another is going on 22 years.

    • David Frame

      Back in 1983 or 1984, Readers digest put out a book on indoor plants.  Is it still available

    • Anonymous

      If you want to make everyone smile..grow a pet TickleMe Plant! The TickleMe Plant is a real tropical house plant that will react as if it were being Tickled when you Tickle it!
      Search TickleMe Plant to grow your own..No this is not an easly April fools joke.
      The TickleMe Plant is real!

    • Kaneez Razavi

      Thank you…I thought my mom was joking about the mother in law tongue Hum yuk yuk

    • Jeharacaduan

      we have plants a better plants for the home to have a fresh air..