Did you know that your home might be hiding a dirty secret? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there are 2–5 times more pollutants indoors than outdoors.
Blame it on improper ventilation and our heavy use of synthetic building materials, household cleaners, and furnishings.
Good thing many houseplants, which are total eye candy, can also make the air cleaner.
Now, you might be curious: How much oxygen does a spider plant produce? Let’s set the record straight!
Like most green living things, spider plants undergo photosynthesis during the day. This process involves using sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into glucose, releasing oxygen as a byproduct.
When night falls, photosynthesis ceases. When there’s no chance for carbon gain, plants close the tiny pores in their leaves (stomata) to prevent moisture loss.
Luckily, the stomata don’t shut completely. As a result, spider plants continue to release small amounts of fresh oxygen while you catch your Zs.
In short, gas exchange is restricted, not entirely blocked, at night.
When the sun is up, spider plants are in full swing, soaking up all that light to make food.
Oxygen production only slows down at night, so spider plants are essentially on the job 24/7.
A spider plant’s size pretty much dictates how much oxygen it gives.
Any plant is busiest in its growth phase—getting bigger, branching out, and setting seeds. If it isn’t actively growing, it’s not churning out much glucose, which it uses for growth or stashes away as starch for rainy days.
Consequently, it’s not throwing tons of oxygen into the mix.
The bottom line is that a sizable plant has likely produced a decent amount of oxygen in its lifetime. A petite plant?
Not so much.
Every time a plant makes glucose, it also creates six times its weight in oxygen, which is about 192 grams.
Because most of that glucose turns into cellulose, and each tiny building block of cellulose weighs about 162 grams, we can say that every 162 grams of plant material produces 192 grams of oxygen.
Simply put, a plant needs to beef up its mass to produce lots of oxygen.
Spider plants gained a reputation for purifying the air after NASA tested several popular houseplants.
The findings revealed that spider plants could scrub the air of common household air pollutants like formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. You’ll find these toxins in paint, adhesives, carpeting, curtains, and even cosmetics.
Some flooring and furniture fresh off the assembly lines also pump out higher amounts of formaldehyde. If that’s not enough, cigarette smokers contribute this known carcinogen to the air.
The hard truth is that you could be living in a “sick” home without realizing it. But are spider plants enough to clean your indoor air?
The answer is no—spider plants don’t purify indoor air like air purifiers with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters do.
Sure, spider plants can detoxify harmful gases in the air, as demonstrated in the NASA study. It’s all thanks to phytoremediation, which is how plants make toxins less toxic.
That said, phytoremediation isn’t the magical cure for indoor air pollution.
First off, NASA performed its test in a sealed plexiglass chamber. But real life is hardly a box; you’ve got to consider airflow, human activity, and other factors.
Second, particulate matter (PM) is a different monster.
A study showed that, over two months, spider plants gathered a teensy amount of PM on their leaves. By teensy, we’re talking about 13.62–19.79 micrograms per square centimeter of leaf area.
Compare that to the 120 million grams of air we breathe daily; that’s basically a drop in the bucket.
To see any real impact in a room, you’d need a literal plant army. Or you can use a combination of houseplants, good ventilation, and advanced filtration technology!
Dry air can trigger a slew of health problems, including allergies, skin issues, and respiratory diseases. Spider plants, it turns out, can amp up the humidity in indoor spaces, according to this study.
Well, it’s all thanks to evapotranspiration. Water enters the plant from the soil and exits as water vapor through the plant’s leaf pores.
If you’re thinking of using your green pals as humidifiers, you’d need three large spider plants in 10-inch pots or 25 small plants in 4-inch pots per room.
So, how much oxygen does a spider plant produce?
Well, it varies depending on the plant’s size and growing conditions.
But you can bet on it—your spider plant works around the clock, cranking out oxygen and giving your indoor air a little refresh.
Lastly, crack a window or turn on a fan. As reliable as spider plants are, a little extra ventilation never hurts anyone.
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.