Now that you have your home office all set up, you’ll want to bring in a bit of greenery – not just as a pretty background for video calls or someone to talk to (no? just me?), but also to clean the air in the room. In addition to sequestering CO2 and upping the oxygen level, these plants can help remove chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde. True story! NASA even wrote about it.
While you may not have enough space for the number of plants you’d need to completely clean the air around you, there are lots of other recorded health benefits to having houseplants. Just interacting with a house plant reduces stress levels and helps you focus – and watering or pruning is enough interaction – you don’t have to talk to them like I, I mean, like my friend does. So step away from that air purifier and plan a trip to your local nursery.
I’ve sorted these by the amount of light they need, because no matter how good your intentions or watering schedule are, a plant just won’t thrive in the wrong conditions.
Whether you’re tucked away in a dark corner or your home doesn’t get much light in general, these plants will clean the air and survive – even thrive – in low light conditions.
Philodendrons and pothos
These are two different species of plant, but are notoriously difficult to tell apart. However, they like the same conditions (i.e. are almost impossible to kill) and both help to purify the air, so I guess it doesn’t matter too much which one you end up with, it’ll get the job done. They can be placed in hanging planters where they’ll trail down, or placed near a wall to climb. You can also prune them back to keep them full and bushy, depending on your décor needs.
Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, these plants are survivors. You can completely neglect them, and they’ll thrive anyway. While they can handle bright sun they prefer indirect light and are also one of the few plants can survive low light. There are a few different sub-species, including some colour variations and a twisted one whose leaves twirl as they grow. Plus, they can grow quite tall, so they can easily fill up an empty corner and beautify your office.
As with most plants, they prefer indirect sunlight, but can live with some natural light, or even with light from your desk lamp. They’re easy to care for – just avoid bright sunlight or the leaves will scorch. These plants make their own babies – for this reason they’re sometimes called “hen and chickens” and are easy to propagate into more plants. You can turn your office into a jungle or gift your friends with plants for years to come.
If you just have one bright window or a sun-drenched office (lucky you!) these plants would love to be your co-workers.
You can either have a single, simple dragon tree, or you can get fancy. How fancy, you ask? This fancy: plant three young trees in one pot and twist them into a braid as they grow. They can also get quite tall when they’re given the bright light they love – like over 2 metres, even in a pot. Don’t put them in direct sunlight though – these trees originally come from the jungle where there are taller trees protecting them from the scorch. For this reason, they also love humidity, so keep them in tip-top shape by spritzing a bit of water onto their leaves to mimic humidity.
Also lovers of bright, indirect light, rubber trees are part of the famously-un-killable ficus family (though I did manage to have one die on my watch). If you do keep yours alive, apart from cleaning the air, they’re also beautifully sculptural and, dare I say it, just as Instagram-worthy as it’s fiddle leaf fig cousin?
These guys aren’t kidding about liking sun. They need six to hours of direct sunlight a day, so you really need to make sure they’re close enough to the window to get all that light, unless you can find a small windowsill potted aloe. While they do love and need the sun, their leaves can burn, so it’s a good idea to rotate your plant once a week or so.
And there you have it – no matter what kind of work-from-home situation you have going on, there’s a purifying houseplant that will definitely make your space a little happier, and even healthier.