Like most people – I love having plants around my indoor space.
There is just something about plants that breathe life into a space that I can’t quite imagine myself without.
That’s why I was pretty anxious when I got my first air purifier. I knew that the plants I had at home were sensitive to changes, and I was really worried that if I kept my air purifier on 24/7, the plants would get affected and that there would be nothing I could do to help them.
That’s why I spent hours browsing the internet looking for answers.
To save you time – in this article, I will show you my findings as to whether or not air purifiers harm houseplants.
Not only that but talk about whether you actually need an air purifier if you have house plants in the first place, compare their individual effectiveness in cleaning the air, and how to make your plants and air purifier work together to improve the air quality indoors.
Can Air Purifiers Harm House Plants?
From what I have found – no, air purifiers won’t do any harm to your house plants. Remember, all air purifiers do is filter out harmful particles from the air.
And since plants need clean air to survive, how can air purifiers be a bad thing?
I’ve had house plants in my house for many years before I bought my first air purifier – and after years of using the unit on a daily basis – the health and condition of my houseplants were not impacted at all.
The reason some people are led to believe that air purifiers can harm houseplants is that they are thinking of the wrong type of air purifier – an ozone-generating air purifier. You want to stay away from such machines because they are not only unhealthy for your lungs but can also harm your plants.
With that said, keep in mind that ozone generators are very different from ionizers.
You might find some air purifiers with ionizers. These simply introduce ions to the air that causes dust.
Do I Need an Air Purifier If I Have Houseplants?
Most people get houseplants to not only bring some life to their indoor space but also to freshen up the air in their house. After all, plants and trees are largely considered nature’s natural air purifiers. So, it makes sense to think an air purifier is pointless if you already have a bunch of houseplants at home.
However, this couldn’t be further from the case.
While plants are naturally designed to purify and cleanse the air – they are nowhere near as effective at it at such a small scale compared to a high-quality air purifier.
If you have houseplants and want to breathe the best possible air – I’d recommend you to get an air purifier. The difference in air quality will be noticeable just after 10-20 minutes.
Air Purifier vs House Plants: Which is Better For Cleaning the Air in Your Home?
If you want the air in your home to be clean almost right away – an air purifier will be necessary. This is whether you have houseplants or not. Air purifiers are great machines that can really enhance the air quality in a room and make you feel much better.
But there are still a lot of people out there who believe that a couple of houseplants would be more than enough to clean the air and an air purifier would be pretty pointless.
So, to settle this debate, in the section below – I’ll explain how plants and air purifiers clean the air, which is more effective, and when air purifiers and houseplants are the better option.
How They Both Clean the Air
Modern air purifiers are fairly simple devices. All they do is suck in the air in your room, pass it through a number of filters, trap all the fur, dust, pollen, and other harmful particles, and release the clean air back into your room.
Typically, air purifiers have HEPA filters. My air purifier has a real HEPA filter, and honestly – the quality of air in my room is unmatched and nothing like I’ve experienced before.
A good HEPA filter can catch tons of particles, even the smallest ones. This is why air purifiers do such a good job at improving air quality. On top of that, some air purifiers have ionizers, which remove dust particles from the air and force them to fall to the floor. This way – you can easily vacuum them up. Just be sure it is not in operation while you are in the room. Make sure to pop a window open as well so the ozone can disperse.
Plants clean the air in a much more complex manner. The process starts by absorbing CO2 or carbon dioxide. The plants combine the CO2 with sunlight and water to convert it into food, which causes the plants to grow. The result of this is that the plant releases oxygen, which is how it cleans the air.
So, while plants can improve air quality, they don’t actually remove dust and other harmful particles that circulate the air. They do, however, absorb VOCs or volatile organic compounds which are present in many modern homes.
But plants can only do so much. Aside from absorbing the above compounds, they can’t absorb any solid particles, which can be the reason for a number of respiratory conditions including asthma, COPD, and more. This is why I highly recommend that you get an air purifier even if you already have a mini garden of indoor houseplants at home.
Which Is More Effective?
Air purifiers are far more effective at cleaning the air than house plants. Sadly, even if you have a ton of houseplants in a room, all they will be able to do is absorb CO2 and certain VOCs. And even then – that process alone can take plenty of time, which is much slower than what the air purifier can do.
Granted, eliminating CO2, introducing oxygen, and absorbing VOCs are very important for our health. However, when it comes to dust and other solid particles that are floating in the air, houseplants won’t be that effective.
If you have skin problems, like eczema, or allergic reactions due to dust, pollen, and other harmful particles in the air, I highly recommend you get an air purifier.
Even if you don’t have any allergies, inhaling these particles isn’t good for you and sooner or later – you will start to notice your quality of sleep reducing, having more headaches, and other similar symptoms.
Ideally – it’s best to have both an air purifier and houseplants but if you had to pick one – I believe the air purifier is going to benefit you a whole lot more both in the short and the long term.
To give you an example – I suffer from seasonal allergies. When that time of year comes around – my quality of life drops quite a bit – or at least that used to be the case until I finally got an air purifier with a real HEPA filter.
When to Get an Air Purifier
Air purifiers are a great investment for just about anyone. I would personally recommend such a unit, particularly to people with pets, people that suffer from respiratory conditions, and people that live in heavily polluted areas.
If you’re wondering whether or not to get an air purifier – it can be pretty hard to understand the benefits. I was the same until I stayed with my friend for a few days and really started to notice how much better I felt just by breathing in cleaner air.
When to Get Houseplants
Not everyone is comfortable with mechanical filtration. If you’re one of these people, then maybe an air purifier isn’t for you.
In that case, your next best option is houseplants.
However, keep in mind that though houseplants can remove VOCs and absorb CO2 – the rate at which this is done is practically unnoticeable.
That’s why most people don’t get houseplants for air purification purposes but rather as decoration for their homes.
How to Make Your House Plants And Air Purifier Work Together to Clean the Air
Houseplants aren’t necessarily bad for your air purifier and vice versa.
In fact, you can combine houseplants and air purifiers together to get the cleanest air possible.
As easy as this might sound – there is more to it than getting an air purifier and a couple of plants and placing them around your room or home.
There are certain steps you need to follow in order to get the maximum out of your houseplants and air purifier.
First, you have to make sure to place both your houseplants and air purifier in the right spot. For the air purifier, you need to make sure it’s in a place where it can absorb as much air as possible.
If you plan on keeping a window open, we recommend placing the air purifier near the window. This way, the air purifier can suck in and clean a lot of the unpurified air that comes from outside. Aside from that – you also need to make sure the air purifier isn’t next to any furniture or in the corner of your room. This is because the airflow under these conditions isn’t great, meaning the air purifier won’t be able to do its job properly.
For the plants, you need to place them in a spot where they can survive. For example, if the plant requires a fair amount of light, you need to place it near the window where it gets sunlight during the day. Or if you have a plant that can’t handle excessive light, you need to do the opposite and place it away from the window.
Choose the Right Plants
The next thing to do is choose the right plants. To start, not all plants can thrive indoors.
You would want a plant that is fine with indoor temperatures, doesn’t require that much light, and generally enjoys being indoors.
- Snake plants
- Aloe vera
- Spider plants
There are tons of plant species out there. And depending on where you live, there may be a couple of species that are native to your area that could be great indoor plants. So, it might require some research to find the best plants to keep indoors, but it will be worth it.
Knowing that your air purifier doesn’t affect your plants and vice versa should give you all the flexibility in the world when it comes to finding the right place for the plants and the air purification unit.
I personally can’t advise you how to go about it because I don’t know the layout of your room – so I will leave the creative part to you.
Just make sure there is plenty of open space around the air purifier and that you place the plants in a place suitable for them.
My personal air purifier sits by the window on a designated table, which gives it the necessary elevation.
As for the plants – they are all over the room – including some hanging from the ceiling.
Air purifiers will not do any harm to your house plants. In fact – air purifiers might actually help your plants thrive as they will get to live in a less polluted environment.
My plants are some of the most sensitive, and I really need to be careful but having used the air purifier for a few years now almost 24/7 – there is no sign of my plants suffering in any way such as falling leaves, discoloration, and other symptoms common for plants that are about to die.