Indoor plants are definitely having a moment right now. Trailing pothos vines, fiddle leaf figs, and monstera leaves are dominating trendy homes. While house plants lend an aesthetic component to your room, they also have function: enter air purifying plants. Houseplants, specifically.
Because I’m equally obsessed with the Enneagram and my plants, I’ve combined my two obsessions into this guide! Read on to find out the perfect plant for your Enneagram type.
First, why should you have indoor plants that clean the air and remove toxins?
Your indoor plants are more than just bright spots of greenery. Bringing nature indoors has tremendous benefits for your home’s air quality too.
Indoor Air Quality
Did you know that the air indoors is dirtier than the air outside? Yep! It’s true.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, our indoor air is 2-5 times dirtier than outdoors. Considering that we spend most of our time indoors now, we’re constantly breathing in toxic air.
Side note: clean air is especially important for those with allergies.
Toxins You’re Exposed To
With the modernization of building materials and methods, you’re exposed to more toxins in your home, car, and office than ever before. Even older buildings are not exempt from these chemicals, as many of them have issues with mold or mildew (or even asbestos.)
The other issue with older buildings is that building materials and finishes don't necessarily stop offgassing at any point. Studies have shown shown 20 year old carpet that is still offgassing high amounts of formaldehyde.
Aside from building materials, there is also conventional furniture and chemicals from cleaning products that are contributing to the poor IAQ in your space.
Furniture, rugs, paint, and carpeting are manufactured with synthetic materials and adhesives, and sprayed with toxic fire retardants and stain treatments. The toxins from these–some of which are called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs–can release into your air via a process called ‘off-gassing.’ This can lead to seriously dirty air, and have been correlated to chronic health conditions!
Here are some common toxins in a conventional home or office:
- Formaldehyde, from wood-based products, cigarette smoke, paints, and varnishes
- Mold and mildew, from improperly circulated moisture
- Gasoline vapors from attached garages
- VOCs, from dry cleaned clothes, flame retardants, building finishes, carpeting, candles, and air fresheners
- Phthalates, triclosan, ammonia, and chlorine, from your cleaning products
How do air purifying plants work?
Your indoor plants help purify the air by absorbing toxins! This study from NASA details how the “leaves, roots, soil, and associated microorganisms” of plants actually destroy environmental toxins by absorbing them and converting them into new plant tissue.
Essentially, your plant is taking one for the team! Luckily, it doesn’t hurt them.
Other Benefits of Air Purifying Indoor Plants
Boosts Creativity and Productivity
Interacting with indoor plants reduces physiological and psychological stress associated with computerized work tasks. Step away from the screen and spend some time watering, dusting, and repotting your plants!
Brightens your Home or Office Space
Plant transpiration–essentially plant “breathing”–adds cool humidity to the air, making your home or office space cool and suitable for deep breathing.
Plants also act as natural noise blockers, decreasing the overall noise level of your environment.
Plus, they soften harsh lines and add some brightness to your space!
Any potential concerns of having indoor plants that clean the air?
Some are dangerous to pets and children. Be sure to review this list and keep the plants high on a shelf and out of reach of your handsy children and fur children if there is cause for concern.
Best Air Purifying Plants for your Enneagram Type
As an avid detox plant mama and enneagram geek, I matched each type with an air purifying plant that would be well suited for your personality type. If you’re unsure of what your enneagram type is, I found this free test to be the most accurate.
Here are the considerations that went into determining the best indoor plant that cleans the air for each enneagram type:
- Amount of care needed.
- How the plant’s characteristics and needs would help the caregiver move in the direction of growth for their particular type.
- The aesthetic of the plant. You know the phenomenon where people tend to resemble their dogs? This is the plant and personality version of that. 😘
- The toxins the air purifying plant helps to remove.
Type 1, The Perfectionist: Rubber Tree
Don’t let the name confuse you – this is a real plant! And an air purifying one at that. Rubber Trees get their name from the rubbery sap that will drip from the stems when a leaf is lost or a stem is cut.
Why they’re great for Type 1s: Rubber plants are beautiful, moderately easy to care for, and the leaves require an occasional dusting – perfect for the meticulous detail a Type 1 often evokes.
Care Guide: These plants are moderately easy to take care of, and need to be watered 1 time a week. It’s easy to fit the care of this plant into your structured, Type 1 routine.
Prior to watering, check the soil to make sure it’s dry. You’ll stick your finger into the soil about 2”. If it’s dry, it’s ready for a good drink. You might need to water your Rubber Tree more during the winter.
Since this plant is a part of the ficus family, they will essentially ‘consume’ the soil. You’ll notice the roots begin to appear at the top of your soil over time. When this happens, simply add more soil to the top of your pot to cover the roots.
These trees like natural light, but don’t think that means it needs to be directly in your window! You’ll be able to tell if your Rubber Plant is happy with the light levels by taking note of how it’s leaves look and how the stem is growing. If the stem starts growing out – your plant needs more light. If it grows up – you’re looking good. The leaves will “turn” towards the light source.
Toxins eliminated: carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more
Type 2, The Caregiver: Aloe Vera
Why they’re great for Type 2s: This hardy succulent gives the type 2 caregiver a needed reprieve as it doesn’t need much in regards to caregiving. Not only that, but this plant can help provide care to it’s type 2 when in need! Just snap a leaf in half and use the gel to apply to sunburns and cuts. The leaf will regrow quickly.
Care Guide: The biggest risk this plant has is being too loved and too cared for by it’s type 2 plant mama. It’s a succulent, so it needs bright light, complete dry out between waterings, and just a little water to dampen the soil about once a week.
Toxins eliminated: benzene and formaldehyde
Type 3, The Achiever: Spider Plant
The spider plants will grow quickly, and will look great planted in a hanging basket next to a window in your office.
Why they’re great for Type 3s: The Spider Plant is an achiever, just like it’s type 3 plant mama. NASA ranks it in the top 3 of house plants that help to purify the air in your home.
you likely have big goals set for yourself, and you don’t need to add another thing that you need to devote time to. You’ll also see so much personal growth when you get involved in projects that don’t have anything to do with your professional advancement.
Your air purifying plant needs to be easy to maintain so you can focus on the goals that deeply matter to you, while allowing you an outlet to find your true identity. The spider plant will thrive even if you tend to forget to devote consistent attention to them, while giving you small cues to it’s happiness by blooming in the spring and summer.
The spider plant has spider plant babies in the spring. Just like the Type 3 who works to achieve goal after goal, the spider plant works to produce healthy spiderettes that can be propagated.
Care Guide: Spider plants like indirect light and well drained soil. They prefer to have their soil get very dry between waterings, so make sure you’re not watering it too consistently. 1-2x a week should be enough. Just be sure to check that the soil is completely dry between waters.
Toxins eliminated: formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, xylene, and other toxins
Type 4, The Creative: Red Edged Dracaena
Why they’re great for Type 4s: Just like it’s type 4 plant mama, the Red Edged Dracaena is dramatic – it can grow to 8’ tall and 3’ wide in the right conditions!
It also allows you, the individualist, to get creative and prune the plant to achieve the look you want. If you just let these plants grow on their own, they’ll continue to get a longer stem with a big bush of spiky leaves at the top.
Care Guide: This is another easy plant to care for! Water your Red Edged Dracaena 1-2 times a week, keeping the soil evenly moist but never soaked. It thrives in both low and bright light rooms.
If you want to flex your creativity, you can use pruning shears to cut the plant to the height you want it. It will soon start to grow new leaves at the cut end.
Toxins eliminated: benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, toluene, and xylene
Type 5, The Innovator: Heartleaf Philodendron
Why they’re great for Type 5s: This climbing plant needs a bit of help looking it’s best, as it tend to grow long and lanky if left alone. The type 5 innovator will find fulfillment in working with their Hearthleaf Philodendron to make it look it’s best – full and bushy.
Care Guide: In general, Heartleaf Philodendron’s are very easy to keep alive. If you want yours to be a full plant (compared to a long, viney plant), you’ll want to pinch it where the leaf meets the stem. This will help a new stem grow at this intersection, making the plant “fill in”.
You can train this air purifying plant to climb anything in your house to achieve a desired look with the help of floral tape.
Yellow leaves indicate overwatering. Allow your plant to dry out between waters and mist to give just enough water.
Toxins eliminated: These plants are the best at removing VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and formaldehyde from your home.
Type 6, The Loyalist: Golden Pothos
Why they’re great for Type 6s: The golden pothos is the loyalist of the air purifying plant family. It tells you exactly what it wants (the leaves droop when it wants water!), and provides the kind of stability a type 6 really needs.
Care Guide: A pothos tolerates low light and bright light environments, loves to get TONS of water once every 1-2 weeks (I completely drench and/or bottom water mine), and then gets neglected until it dries out.
This is a trailing plant, and will grow long and stringy if you let it. You can easily prune and propogate your pothos by cutting at a stem and submerging the end water until it grows roots. Then you can pot your entirely new pothos plant!
Toxins eliminated: benzene, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene
Type 7, The Enthusiast: Money Bonsai
Why they’re great for Type 7s: Being that a typical characteristic of a type 7 is ‘distractible’ and ‘scattered’, they do well with Money Bonsai trees which are virtually kill-proof. The Money Bonsai satisfy the 7’s basic need of being taken care of, as they are a well rounded air purifying plant and (according to fung shui experts) is known for bringing wealth and luck to the home, without being overly needy for attention.
Care Guide: Give your Money Bonsai indirect light and infrequent watering. Make sure the soil if very dry between waters!
Toxins eliminated: Formaldehyde and synthetic chemicals
Type 8, The Challenger: Snake Plant
Why they’re great for Type 8s: It’s a sharp leaf plant that allows a type 8 to do what they do best: to be in control. A Type 8 isn’t likely to feel like they’re losing control over their Snake Plant, as it can take a lot of hurt before it shows any damage.
Snake plants are also commonly known as mother-in-law’s tongue… if you have a type 8 in your life whom you love, you likely can see the correlation. 🤣
Snake plants are easy to care for, and won’t distract the 8 from pursuing their other passions in life.
Care Guide: It thrives in neglectful environments with low light and infrequent waterings.
Toxins eliminated: This plant converts CO2 to oxygen at night, so it’s best to put this one in your bedrooms! It’s great at filtering formaldehyde.
Type 9, The Peacemaker: Peace Lily
Why they’re great for Type 9s: Well obviously… they’re the peacemakers of the air purifying plant world! Jokes aside, these top NASA’s list for removing the most common pollutants, formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, and are one of the best plants for removing common household toxins.
Care Guide: This plant is very easy to care for, so I can't imagine any type 9 passive-aggressive feelings coming to light as a result of neglecting this plant.
Keep a look out for droopy leaves. This is a tell tale sign your Peace Lily is in need of a good drink of water.
Be sure to keep this plant out of reach of your pets and children, as the leaves can be toxic if eaten.
Toxins eliminated: formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, toluene, xylene, ammonia, and more
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All fun aside, air purifying plants are a welcome addition to any home or office space. They clean your air of toxins and bad smells, increase productivity, reduce stress, and brighten your environment. Start with the air purifying plant for your type and then begin collecting them all!