Indoor plants are the best. They’re like little companions that you can love and care for, and they never bite, bark, scratch or shed! Pets are also lovely, but they have a tendency to pollute the air instead of making it cleaner. During the winter, that can make things a little bit difficult.
House plants are pretty much the opposite. All of them help clean the air thanks to photosynthesis, and they can also make you a bit happier. (Maybe not as happy as coming home to a butt-wiggling fur ball, but they do provide their own kind of comfort.)
Some plants are easier to grow than others, but they all offer an earthy source of comfort when the weather turns to snow and ice.
There are a ton of different kinds of ficus out there. They tend to look like mini-trees, so having one will be a constant reminder of better weather on its way. Most ficus trees are actually weeping fig trees, and because they come from a humid climate, you’ll want to mist them regularly.
It’s not terribly hard to keep alive, but it’s not the easiest one, either. They’ll help to pull benzene, which is often found in carpeting, out of the air.
Ficus trees are not something you want your pets or children eating. The sap is mildly toxic and exposure can cause both intestinal and dermatological irritation. If you suspect that your animal or child has eaten some, call the vet or doctor.
Aloe is easy to grow and it does more than just purify the air. Its sap is well-known for providing relief from minor injuries like cuts, scrapes and burns. It’s a succulent, so it maintains water well and you don’t have to worry about watering it often. Over-watering, however, can be a problem. It’s useful inside because it helps to clear out formaldehyde and benzene.
Despite being wonderful for topical relief, aloe is not meant to be ingested. It is toxic to both cats and dogs, in different levels. Typically, it will not affect humans. Cats and dogs, however, have a much lower threshold and shouldn’t be allowed to ingest the plant.
A tree said to bring good luck, this plant is great at sucking up stuff that’s bad for you, like formaldehyde. You can also set it next to furniture that might appreciate help releasing some questionable gasses. They’re a little more difficult to care for, since they need regular fertilizing and properly drained soil.
However, if you can do those things, they should stay happy, healthy and hopefully lucky.
This is one of the few plants that the ASPCA calls non-toxic to both cats and dogs. So if you have fur balls that love to munch on everything, this could be a good option.
This beautiful plant doesn’t focus on formaldehyde like many others. Instead, it takes out xylene, which is found in glue and leather. This plant also comes in a wide variety of shades, so you can decide what colors would look best in your home. It grows best in indirect sunlight, likes a bit of drying between watering and appreciates fertilizer every month during warm weather or every two months during cold weather.
The glossy leaves may be tempting to animals, and it is toxic, so keep your furry friends away from it!
Peace lilies are beautiful, hard to kill and make your home feel like a tropical paradise. Indirect light, occasional fertilizing and a short period of drying between watering lets these plants grow perfectly. If you notice it drooping, it just needs a bit of water. It’ll perk up in a few hours and be good as new. Plus, it removes toxins like ammonia, acetone, formaldehyde, benzene and others.
Watch out for pets with this one, as well—while most animals won’t bother it, peace lilies are toxic if ingested.
This plant is easy to grow and creates a stunning centerpiece. However, it’s important to keep it indoors since it can grow aggressively outside and push out native species. Inside, it helps to reduce airborne fecal particles, which is something everyone wants less of!
Ivy, however, doesn’t love the sun. If you want plants in a darker area, this could be the best one for you.
This particular ivy is toxic to animals. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain or sensitivity. The actual leaves are more poisonous than the berries, so try to keep your animals away from it.
Gerbera daisies are perfect for adding a splash of spring-time color to a winter view. They need a lot of sun, so place them near a window and let them go to battle taking out trichloroethylene from the air. Usually found in industrial solvents, and you might have trichloroethylene in your dry cleaning. Even without any dry cleaning, the flowers are pretty enough to have around just to make you happy.
If you have a kitty that loves to munch on colorful plants, this one is safe. It’s non-toxic for both cats and dogs, so you don’t have to worry about keeping it out of reach.
These finicky plants might not be the best choice for a beginner, but they certainly do their job of improving air quality. They can work to pull benzene and formaldehyde out of the air almost everywhere. If you live in an area with a lot of smog, they may also remove some ozone from the air.
Cool temperatures, high humidity and indirect light are the magic requirements for this plant. A window that doesn’t get direct sun during the winter would be perfect!
This one is safe for furry companions, so learning to grow a Boston Fern might be a good option.
These are a shockingly beautiful plant. The edges are tinged red, adding a pop of color to your home in a natural way. These are good at pulling out airborne toxins from lacquers, gasoline and varnishes. Plus, they can reach up to 15 feet high, making them a pretty impressive plant!
High ceilings and partial sun make this stunning plant happy.
Dracaena plants are considered toxic for ingestion. Don’t let your animals or children eat it. If you suspect they may have, call the vet or poison control.
This spindly-looking plant is one of the hardiest and most helpful house plants to have. In addition to clearing out the formaldehyde and benzene that other plants do, this one also takes out carbon monoxide and xylene. With tiny white flowers, this plant can help remind you of spring even in the depths of a snowstorm.
While it’s considered generally non-toxic, care should be taken to prevent animals from eating it. It does contain some compounds that are similar to opium. So, if your cat takes a strange liking to this particular plant, it’s because they’re getting high. As with everything, too much can cause illness, although the cat would have to eat a very large amount for that to happen.
Plants indoors can make the dreary winter months more bearable. Take the time to learn how to care for them well, and you’ll have an easier time waiting for spring.
Ali Lawrence writes about healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in organic gardening, yoga and photography. Read more about her DIY projects and home advice on her blog or follow her on Pinterest.