Making a House a Home: air-purifying plants

For the first time in my life I am living in a house that requires a de-humidifier.  I’ve said “so long” to the dry climes of Montana and California only to be confronted with the possibility of real mold issues.  Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, so humidity is constant.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a little humidity–it does wonder for my skin and hair, but I like to breathe without getting sick.  As we continue to settle here, the one thing I always want to make a sense of my own space is to buy plants.  Simply it’s my way of setting down “roots.”  And with the presence of extra moisture and possible mold, I get two benefits from the plants I’m buying:  one, they are beautiful and calming.  Two, I’m buying only air-purifying plants for the indoors.  (I can’t wait for spring to get busy planting outside, but it is too late now in the season to do much.  I’m thinking ahead to those plants we can eat or that are beautiful and beneficial in some other way.)

Research on the world wide web has different lists with different plants:,,20452423_last,00.html

But the few that appear on every list include aloe vera, spider plant, snake plant, peace lily, palms (bamboo and lady), golden pothos and English Ivy.  Boston ferns, rubber trees and ficus are also popular.

Among my favorites are the peace lily which are good at removing toxins and controlling mold spores.  I rigged up a window box in the basement, near the de-humidifier for this purpose.  It needs lots of water, but little light, so it’s perfect in this kind of space. 

When I was in Sicily this spring couchsurfing with Gianfranco we would wild-harvest bags of wild aloe from the side of the road and from beaches.  He would slice open the thick leaves and we would use the gel to cool our sun burns, as a hair/face mask and in juice and cocktails.   Nothing is better than the freshest you can find.  I can’t wait to trim my plant for occasional use.  A note:  aloe is wonderful, but internally it can be a digestive stimulant. Use wisely.

Spider plants:  easy, fuss free.  Plus, they multiply and the cuttings can be used for new pots.   

Rubber trees have large, firm leaves that are good at formaldehyde and other toxins.  I also like how it looks.     It can grow to be eight feet tall.

I also bought a bamboo palm and a dracaena.      I want fuss-free plants that I don’t have to really worry about.  These are easy.

Every time I go to a home store or green house, I bring home another plant.  Experts say to place one or two plants for every 100 feet.  If remodeling or building, use a few more.  I think they are best in the bedroom–for clearing the air for restful sleep–and rooms where you spend a lot of time.



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