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6 NASA-Approved Indoor Plants to Purify the Air

Singapore, like any other urban cities, is a place where we live and breath… air pollutants. Lucky for us, mother nature always has an answer to problems we create for her. Having an indoor plant not only purifies the air at home, but also comes with a myriad of benefits: it’s a quadruple booster to our mood, concentration, productivity and mental health. It even helps reduce fatigue, sore throat and cold.

These plants have earned a seal of approval from NASA as nature’s best air purifiers. They are also considerably easy to maintain, even for those with a brown thumb of death. Find out how they look, how to care for them, and where to place them. Let’s go!


snake plant as indoor plant


You see it everywhere, and it’s not without reason. Despite its terrifying name and an equally terrifying nickname (Mother-In-Law’s Tongue), this plant is perfect for bedrooms. It has the unique ability of producing oxygen at night, which improves the quality of air and hence your sleep. It also removes benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene, and toluene – pollutants commonly found in paint and leather.

Water thoroughly till the soil is damp monthly, or water once a week. It’s nice to know that you won’t come home from a month-long vacay to find your indoor plant dead: snake plants can go a long time without. Bright, indirect light is best, but they can thrive in low light too. Reserve plenty of vertical room above the pot as they can grow quite tall. 



If you’re wondering why folks like to name plants after not particularly popular animals, that makes two of us. Anyway, while spiders pay their rent by helping you exterminate other harmful pests, this indoor plant quietly battles toxins for you. Besides removing carbon monoxide and xylene, it has the bonus of being safe for fur babies.

Keep the soil moist but well-drained for this one. Like a true spider, spider plants can survive in dark corners no other plants would brave. Additionally, they reproduce enthusiastically in the form of spiderettes, which you can move to smaller pots for an ever growing collection. They can be a little busy visually, so avoid placing in already cluttered rooms.



Well, if it isn’t the Chinese families’ favourite indoor plant. Apparently it’s good for the fengshui, but not so good for the stomach. It is toxic when ingested, so place out of reach of pets and kids. Nevertheless, it’s one of the rare plants that convert carbon dioxide to oxygen at night. It will also take out chemicals like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene from the air you breath.

The plant prefers indirect medium to low light conditions. In soil, it needs to be hydrated every seven to ten days. But, you can easily grow them in water. Just select a branch about 30cm in length with at least two to three nodes, and place them at 45 degrees in enough clean water to cover one node. Ah, if only money grows that effortlessly.


aloe vera as indoor plant


Another nocturnal breather, aloe vera pumps oxygen when the sun goes down. Apart from filtering formaldehyde and benzene found in varnishes, floor finishes, and detergents, aloe vera can be made into DIY moisturizers and masks. You can also harvest it for a delicious snack chock-full of minerals, vitamins and enzymes. Additionally, its soothing property works magic on burns and inflammation.

Aloe vera grows with little care: water every three weeks or when the soil seems dry on the surface. Being a desert plant means that aloe vera loves basking in sunlight, but can sometimes get a little sunburn. Plant them on windowsills or the balcony, where their prickly succulents are conveniently kept out of the way. Give it what it needs and it’ll reward you with big, fleshy limbs as well as little babies, ensuring that you never run out of supply for whatever purposes it serves you.


rubber plant as indoor plant


This indoor plant breaks down chemicals like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, which means it is great for homes that are freshly painted or located by busy expressways. On top of that, its large, beautiful leaves capture bacteria and mold spores in the air. Rubber plants come in a variety of colours, including an interesting variegated type.

Leave space for them to spread, as they can grow up to 2.5m under the right conditions. That said, rubber plants tolerate neglect well: no complaints towards dim lights and underwatering, so long as the soil is kept moist.


bamboo palm as indoor plant


Also referred to as areca palm, bamboo palm eliminates formaldehyde, benzene, xylene and toluene. In addition, it absorbs acetone and other harmful gases released by varnished wooden furniture and dyes. Being a big, leafy plant means that bamboo palm produces a higher volume of negative ions than smaller plants. The negative ions attach to dust, germs, viruses and mold spores, causing them to fall to the ground for easy clean-up. 

Place it in filtered light and always keep its soil moist. Remove its berries, as they are toxic to pets. The plant will add a lively and tropical touch to social spaces, like a dining room.


All images courtesy of Pinterest


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