Dracaena reflexa (Red-Edged Dracaena)
Often called Red-Edged Dracaena or Pleomele, Dracaena reflexa is an upright evergreen shrub that produces narrow green, yellow or cream-colored leaves. Once the plant starts to mature, you may notice small white flowers start to bloom, shortly followed by small red-orange berries.
This low-maintenance plant is extremely popular in America not just because it looks cool, but also because it takes little work to keep it alive. All you need to do to keep this plant alive, is keep it in an area with indirect sunlight and keep the soil slightly moist.
According to the NASA Clean Air Study, Dracaena reflexa is one of the most efficient plants at removing formaldehyde from the air in your home, as well as other VOCs, including benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene. However, keep your pets away from this plant, as it can be toxic to animals when ingested.
Studies show that plants can offer a natural and benign way to assist the filtration of indoor air.
Plants can remove toxicants and absorb pollutants by metabolizing them into harmless byproducts and by isolating them via incorporating them into plant tissues.
- A 1989 study published by NASA found that plants were effective at removing airborne VOCs such as benzene, toluene, octane, and trichloroethylene.
- Another study found that indoor plants could also remove concentrations of formaldehyde from the air (Claudio, Luz, 2011, October).
- Studies also show that no plants are known that help remove tabacco smoke from the air. (they can remove benzene, a component of the smoke)
However, not all plants are equally beneficial when it comes to removing harmful airborne substances. Also it is not clear if all toxins can be removed by plants.
And there are some limitations.
- Houseplants are most effective in removing VOCs in energy-efficient, non-ventilated buildings.
- In highly ventilated buildings, the rapid exchange of inside and outside air limits the benefits of using houseplants to clean the air (Zhang, Jensen, Wang, Zhiqiang, & Ren, Dacheng, 2010, December).
That’s why scientists conclude that:
“It is not yet possible to project the true potential of plants for purifying indoor air,” “At this time the role of plants, though appearing [generally] positive, is not totally clear.” said Stanley J. Kays, University of Georgia
What exactly do we mean by indoor air quality?
Indoor air quality (IAQ) refers to the air quality within buildings and structures, as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. IAQ can be affected by many things, to include:
● Gases (such as carbon monoxide, radon, and volatile organic compounds [VOCs])
● Microbial contaminants (molds and bacteria)
● Stressors that can induce adverse health conditions.
The primary methods of controlling IAQ in most buildings include source control, filtration, and the use of ventilation to dilute contaminants.
Let’s say, taking the limitations in account, you will use plants for their purifying properties. Which types are best?
The top 10 best houseplants for cleaning indoor air
In studies houseplants were assessed on their ability to clean indoor air based on the following criteria:
- removal of chemical vapors,
- ease of growth and maintenance,
- resistance to insect infestation, and
- transpiration rates.