Top 5 Beginner House Plants That Will Also Purify Your Air (Sort Of)

There are many reasons to get a houseplant. One that you often hear is that plants help to purify the air and remove invisible toxins from your home. This sounds great—we’re all looking for ways to be healthier. But, the truth is that their air detoxifying abilities are over exaggerated.

In 1989, NASA collaborated with the Associated Contractors of America to study and compile a list of plants that are beneficial to the air in your home. They found that some plants (more than others) are better at naturally filtering harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and ethylene glycol that come from everyday items like cleaning products.

While plants’ air purifying powers are true in perfect lab conditions, a 2009 study looked at 28 different indoor plants and concluded that the dynamics change once you have these plants in your home or office. One big reason is that the indoor air in your home swaps with the outdoor air about once an hour. “From what I’ve seen, in most instances air exchange with the exterior has a far greater effect on indoor air quality than plants,” says Stanley Kays, a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia.

Although your snake plant might not have the air filtering power you once thought, there are still good reasons to keep them in your home or office. House plants are shown to lower stress and make you feel happier, all while bringing a fresh feel to your decor.

If you don’t have a green thumb, you still have many options for low-maintenance plants. Check out some of our picks below.

Looking for easy care house plants? Here are five varieties great for first-time plant parents.



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Pothos do well in a variety of environments and conditions, making them very easy to care for. They can withstand low light and dry soil. When you see their leaves starting to curl, then you know it’s time to water them.


Snake Plant

Easy to Care House Plants

Photo: Kari Shea

The Sansevieria, aka snake plant, is another tolerant variety. They can go for weeks at a time without water and are okay in low-light conditions. But even if they are neglected, their structured leaves still look fresh.


Spider Plant

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A spider plant is considered one of the easiest houseplants to grow. The long, dangling leaves feature spider-like plants (aka spiderettes) that dangle from the mother plant like the insect for which they are named. Just provide them with bright, indirect light and let their soil dry between waterings.


Dragon Tree

The skinny Dragon tree can grow many feet in height (sometimes as much as eight) but that doesn’t mean it’s a challenge to care for. This plant likes bright light with some shade and its soil kept moist. But if you wait too long to water it, don’t fret—it can quickly recover from dehydration.


Chinese Evergreen


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Another great plant for beginners is the Chinese Evergreen. It can withstand any indoor conditions, from too little light to an abundance of it. When it has enough light, however, you’re rewarded with beautiful calla lily-like blooms.


h/t: [Apartment Therapy]

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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