Yes, succulents are great plants to have in your home or office, because they can indeed help to purify the air.
There are dozens of possible sources of harmful chemicals and toxins in our homes, including furniture, ovens, household cleaners, paint, varnishes, and tobacco smoke.
Succulents absorb these toxins from the air and allow the people living in the home to breathe cleaner air.
In this article, we will discuss not only the reasons that succulents are good for purifying the air but also the other health benefits they offer by merely existing.
If you wish to learn more about which specific succulents can purify the air so you can add them to your collection, then keep reading.
What makes toxins in indoor air so dangerous?
Indoor air can contain more than 800 different chemical and biological pollutants. These pollutants are invisible, and the most harmful ones are acetone, ammonia, chloroform, ethyl acetate, trichloroethylene, xylene, benzene, and formaldehyde.
These pollutants can easily trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions, which can be life-or-death situations for a lot of people. Prolonged exposure to some of these pollutants has also been linked to increased risks of cancer.
These pollutants can come from ovens, carpets, paneling, furniture, fabrics, household cleaners, tobacco smoke, gas stoves, rubber, plastic, paints, and varnishes.
Ozone is one of the most serious contributors to indoor air pollution. It is a colorless gas that forms when oxygen reacts with chemicals. Seemingly benign machines in our homes, such as copy machines, ultraviolet lights, and laser printers, can create ozone.
It has only been in recent years that scientists have got definitive proof that certain plants can effectively remove toxins from enclosed spaces.
What are the symptoms of indoor air pollution?
In the early stages, indoor air pollution may not present with noticeable effects, but the longer the problem goes unresolved, the more serious the effects will be, so watch out for these symptoms that may suggest the presence of air toxins in your home.
Symptoms of exposure to indoor air toxins include coughing, asthma, allergies, itchy skin, dry skin, nausea, irritated eyes, irritated nose, irritated throat, headaches, and an inability to focus.
If you have any of these symptoms but they seemingly disappear the moment you leave your home or office, then there is a high possibility that you have indoor air pollution.
What are the best succulents for purifying air?
The snake plant is one of the most popular succulents in the world. This is because it is very easy to propagate and it is almost indestructible. It can tolerate poor living conditions and still thrive.
The snake plant can absorb toxins such as formaldehyde, toluene, xylene and benzene from the air. Place it in a spot where it gets indirect light and only water it when the soil in the pot is dry to the touch.
Not only will the snake plant purify the air in your home; it will also add a pop of color and beauty with its signature look.
Aloes are a genus of flowering succulents, the Aloe vera variety being the most popular.
The Aloe is one of the top succulents when it comes to the ability to purify air. Some studies even claim that a single Aloe works just as well as several air purifiers.
Aloes can filter formaldehyde and benzene from the air. Not only this; they will also remove dust and carbon dioxide while providing oxygen.
Another health benefit of Aloes is that the gel inside their leaves can be used to treat cuts, burns and wounds.
Aloe vera’s leaves have a bright, beautiful, green color. They are thick and fleshy, because the plant stores water in them in case of drought. This plant is low-maintenance and very easy to propagate. All it needs is lots of sun, and water only when the soil in the pot is dry to the touch.
The corn plant has glossy green leaves with white or yellow stripes down the middle. It can reach up to 15 feet in ideal conditions, but when kept indoors, it will stay more compact, at five to eight feet. You can also always trim the plant down if you feel it has grown a little too tall for your liking.
The corn plant can remove formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene from the air.
It is relatively low-maintenance and can tolerate a certain level of neglect.
This plant is non-toxic to humans and animals and is safe to grow in your home. All it needs is some indirect light, and water only when the soil in its pot has dried out completely.
The Janet Craig plant is another variety of Dracaena fragrans, the species to which the corn plant also belongs.
This plant can absorb benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene from the air in your home or office.
This hardy plant is very easy to grow and care for, and you can place it anywhere in your house to add a touch of color. Because it is not picky when it comes to lighting conditions, it will thrive just as well in a dreary office as it would in a bright patio.
Remember that these plants like humidity, so you might need to mist it once in a while, especially if the air is particularly dry.
The red-edged Dracaena is also called the dragon tree. It has green leaves with reddish-purple edges. Some varieties also have green and red stripes with a white stripe down the center.
This is the Dracaena variety that is most effective at removing toxins from the air, and it can remove pollutants such as toluene, benzene, xylene and trichloroethylene.
It is easy to care for and works well as a houseplant. Although it can grow quite tall, it is still a slow-growing plant, so you will not have to worry about having to trim it for at least a few years after taking it home.
This plant can tolerate drought and does not need to be watered that often.
The Warneckii is another variety of Dracaena fragrans, and was previously known as Dracaena deremensis.
This plant has greenish-gray leaves with white stripes. It is one of the shorter Dracaenas, reaching only around four feet in height.
It works very well as an indoor plant, not only because of its air-purifying abilities, but also because it is fine with growing in bright but indirect light.
Warneckiis like their soil to dry out between waterings, so make sure the soil is dry to the touch inside the plant’s pot before you water it.
What are the other health benefits of keeping succulents indoors?
Aside from purifying the air, certain succulents have other health benefits to offer.
One of the most obvious benefits of keeping succulents, or plants in general, is their ability to provide us with oxygen.
Unlike other plants that absorb oxygen at night, succulents continue to release oxygen through the night, just like they do in the daytime.
They are great plants to keep in your bedroom while you sleep because you will wake up in a room full of refreshed air each day. This can also help a lot with the quality of sleep you are getting.
10 percent of the moisture in the atmosphere is water released by plants. Even in smaller quantities, like inside your home, they can improve the humidity which helps to prevent sore throats, coughs, colds, and dry skin.
There have been multiple studies that concluded that people were less likely to call in sick the more plants they had around them in their work area.
Helps with focus
Studies on both students and office workers have shown that when there is a plant in the room, brain capabilities, attentiveness and concentration are significantly improved.
A University of Michigan study even found that memory retention improved by almost 20 percent when plants were present in the room.
You can do this for your own bedroom or office cubicle. Choose succulents that are compact and will not take too much space on your table. This might be all that is missing from you getting that 4.0 average.
Faster recovery from illness
Kansas State University researchers conducted a study and found that patients in a hospital room with plants in it required less medication for pain, had lower heart rates and blood pressure and tended to experience less anxiety and fatigue.
Yes, some succulent species have the ability to absorb toxins from the air. Not only do they make great additions to the decor in your home, but they are also silently helping you and your family to become healthier by making sure the air you breathe is clean and free of toxins.
Examples of succulents that have great air-purifying capabilities are the snake plant, Aloe, corn plant, Janet Craig, red-edged Dracaena and Warneckii.
Keep these plants in your living room or bedroom to help you sleep better at night.
Image: istockphoto.com / kynny