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Natural purifiers in a pot

Natural purifiers in a pot
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The best plants are the ones that do double duty – and all of these purify your air of toxic chemicals. Even better, they’re easy to grow. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, our homes can have three to five times more pollutants than the outdoors. You could be living in a “sick” house and not realise it: Substances like xylene (in paint and lacquers), benzene (furniture wax, insect sprays), trichloroethylene (cleaners, adhesives), and formaldehyde (upholstery, air fresheners) – can produce symptoms like headaches, sore throats, or allergy-like breathing troubles. The NASA Clean Air Study was designed to find effective and simple ways to detox the air in the space station – and it reveals that common house plants have air purifying superpowers.

Dwarf date palm

Dwarf date palm
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It’s hardy and drought-resistant, but it’s a slow grower. Once this palm matures, it will live for decades and grow 2.5-3 metres tall with sharp needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem – take care around them, they can penetrate through skin and clothing. However, the dwarf date palm is noted for its ability to filter out xylene. For optimal air-filtering, NASA recommends placing at least one plant per 9 square metres of a home or office space. Check out these 10 houseplants that are nearly impossible to kill.

Boston fern

Boston fern
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Boston ferns are native to tropical forests and swamp areas so they will thrive in low light and high humidity – they’re ideal for your bathroom. The moisture from your shower will hydrate the plant, requiring little extra care from you. Besides being a pretty and decorative addition to your bathroom, the Boston fern helps remove xylene and – the NASA study revealed – it was the top house plant for removing formaldehyde. Find out 7 other ways to improve the air quality in your home.

Kimberly Queen fern

Kimberly Queen fern
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Another fern makes the NASA list: Unlike the Boston fern, which spreads out towards the side, the Kimberly Queen grows upright, giving it a tidy appearance. This Australian native can take more heat and sun than its Boston cousin, but you do have to water it on a regular basis. Since it can grow indoors or out, this fern makes an attractive addition placed under an overhang on a patio or deck, especially if it’s an area in close quarters to a garage or as xylene agents are in vehicle exhaust. Follow these 7 tips to keep plants alive when you’re away.

Spider plant

Spider plant
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Talk about a plant that keeps giving. It removes impurities from the air like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. NASA’s study found that spider plants removed 95 per cent of formaldehyde from a sealed plexiglass chamber in 24 hours. Even better, the main plant sends out shoots, called “spiderettes” that flower and eventually grow into baby spider plants that you can transplant. That also helps: Research indicates that people are more relaxed and happy after caring for plants – say, for example, when they’re re-potting them.

Chinese evergreen

Chinese evergreen
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A sturdy plant that’s easy to keep alive, this one is ideal for your desk or on a living room side table. Its lance-shaped leaves are interspersed with pretty shades of grey, green and silver. It thrives in low to medium light and is slow-growing – it lives to a ripe old age of 10 years. The evergreen plant filters formaldehyde and benzene. Just take care if you have pets or young ones: It’s toxic when ingested. Always consult the ASPCA list of poisonous plants for cats and dogs before buying a plant, including the ones included in the NASA list.

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Bamboo palm

Bamboo palm
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This plant boasts elegance and height in addition to removing harmful elements like benzene and formaldehyde. Bamboo palms also help keep indoor air moist, making it a welcome addition in dry winter months. This palm takes a bit more care: It loves bright, but not direct sunlight and needs monthly fertilising and regular misting; when it outgrows its container (every two to three years), you’ll need to re-pot it.

Weeping fig

Weeping fig
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According to NASA’s Clean Air Study, the weeping fig is very efficient at cleansing airborne formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. Xylene and toluene tend to build up from carpet and furniture cleaners and stain removers. This one is easy to care for, so you can place a couple in each room. Just keep them out of direct sunlight and they’ll be a companion for decades.

Devil’s ivy

Devil’s ivy
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Devil’s ivy is actually quite angelic. It’s considered one of the most effective indoor air purifiers from benzene, formaldehyde, and xylene. Plus, if you’re new to growing house plants, this is a great first plant to get. It’s lush, hardy and inexpensive. Another nice feature is that it can grow up to 2.5 metres long and in a variety of directions. In a hanging basket, it will trail downwards. Place it a pot and train it to climb a totem or trellis or place in a pot on a mantle or coffee table and let it grow horizontally.

Flamingo lily

Flamingo lily
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A beautiful pop of colour and an air filter to boot, this showy evergreen plant is known for its shiny, heart-shaped red flowers. According to NASA, it removes airborne formaldehyde, ammonia, toluene and xylene. Take note – this one is toxic, so avoid it if you have pets or kids. Speaking of pets, here are 5 easy ways to make your garden a great home for your pets.

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