People choose different kinds of indoor plants for their homes because of their beautiful foliage and easy care. The philodendron is a popular choice for its charm and its ability to purify the air indoors, but does it clean the air effectively?
NASA conducted tests on indoor plants that determined the philodendron is one of the houseplants that can effectively remove harmful pollutants indoors.
Also, plant lovers say that having a philodendron plant in your home gradually improves air quality within its area.
So, how does it remove volatile organic compounds from the air?
Nowadays, we are more informed about the harmful chemicals looming in our homes’ air. One of these dangerous compounds is formaldehyde.
This substance is emitted from common items in the house, like insulation, cleaning supplies, and paints.
Newly built homes, in particular, have a higher concentration of this chemical due to the fresh coatings of paints, varnishes, and other surface treatments. It is an irritant that can affect the respiratory tract as well as the eyes and skin.
How it affects our health may vary according to the level of exposure. Although, it may also have serious effects as it’s classified as a carcinogen.
The most straightforward explanation for the phenomenon is the process known as photosynthesis.
Plants take in toxic compounds through the stomates on their leaves. Since most species of philodendrons have wider leaves, they have more stomatal pores to absorb air.
Moreover, other volatile organic compounds like trichloroethylene and xylene are also absorbed through plant respiration via the stomates.
As photosynthesis occurs, the plant breaks down the gaseous formaldehyde and converts it into sugar. As this happens, energy is produced for the plants to utilize.
Philodendrons, like other plants, can absorb formaldehyde through the leaves and roots. Technically, this means that the plant removes the toxic chemical in the air and soil, but this does not necessarily mean that the effect is doubled.
Philodendron plants come in wide varieties. They are quite easy to take care of as they require very minimal attention.
The Heart-Leaf (Philodendron cordatum) is one of the three excellent choices for houseplants. The other two are the Spade leaf (Philodendron domesticum) and the Lacy tree (Philodendron bipinnatifidum), which proved to purify the air effectively.
All you need to remember is to regularly mist the leaves to keep them dust-free and to let the soil dry until the next watering.
Proper care for your philodendrons can ensure the air in your home or workplace is purified for a long time.
The philodendron can quickly break down formaldehyde when under a lot of pressure.
This means that the more formaldehyde there is in an enclosed area, the faster the plant can break it down.
It also proves the philodendron’s efficiency in purifying the air in the environment it’s placed in.
However, this doesn’t ensure that a smaller philodendron would be able to remove all the toxic compounds in a room at a faster rate.
It only explains the rate the chemical is broken down and not the significant effect on the toxic levels within the room.
Phytoremediation is a big word that simply means using plants to bring back balance.
If you plan to reduce the harmful off-gases in your home while keeping it attractive, you may want a potted philodendron.
Aside from having leaves that are nice to look at, they are known to purify air more than other plants.
This is another good reason to choose philodendron plants for your home’s phytoremediation.
Depending on the indoor areas of your home, you may need more than just a couple of philodendrons.
If you need a few more of these choice plants, you may also want to purchase an air quality monitor to see if they actually make a difference.
You’ll need this to make sure that your plants will progressively reduce the toxic levels in the air indoors.
The answer to the question of whether philodendrons or other indoor plants can purify the air is clearly a yes.
Nevertheless, you can make an effort to assess the formaldehyde levels in your home to figure out how many plants you’ll need for it.
With this in mind, it will be easy to set the number of plants in a room to effectively reduce the concentration of volatile organic compounds.
In the end, buying a beautiful-looking purifying plant is better than spending a lot more on air purifiers.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.