In recent years, more and more people have developed an interest in keeping houseplants. There are many potential reasons why there has been such a resurgence in indoor gardening. Many people took up tending to houseplants during the pandemic as a quarantine hobby. As the years have progressed, people’s interest in keeping houseplants has continued to thrive and it’s easy to understand why. They liven up any living space, and provide people with something to care for—both which provide many mental health benefits. However, there has been speculation as to whether or not keeping houseplants provides environmental and health benefits through purifying the air in our homes.
The short answer is that houseplants do have the potential to purify the air in our homes. When plants perform photosynthesis, they take carbon dioxide out of the air and emit oxygen as a byproduct. Since plants output oxygen into the surroundings, by scientific definition they have the potential to increase the oxygen concentration in your living space. However, the degree to which they can detoxify the air and measurably make a difference to the air quality in a person’s living space is another matter.
“There is currently no evidence…that a reasonable number of houseplants remove significant quantities of pollutants in homes and offices,” reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Indeed, in order to make a considerable difference in the air quality of your home, you’d have to keep a large number of houseplants under specific climatic conditions, requiring a large amount of effort, time and money that isn’t realistic for most of us. Having houseplants can even worsen indoor air quality if you are overwatering them, as overly damp soil may promote the growth of microorganisms which can affect allergic individuals.