Spathiphyllum is often chosen as a gift because it is an easy-to-grow house plant that is forgiving of low light conditions. It is often seen marked as a good air purifier. I wondered how true this claim is and did a little research on the subject.
The air purifying claim dates back to some 1989 NASA research. The Peace Lily was one of the best performers in this study. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to replicate the results. Replication builds confidence in science. The unfortunate conclusion is that while the plant does remove some pollutants, you would need an awful lot of indoor plants (at least 93!) to gain any real benefit. The best courses of action are to open the window and avoid pollutants in the first place. Unfortunately, plants continue to be advertised as air purifiers, when they have many more characteristics to offer.
COVID lockdowns increased the public’s appreciation of having an accessible space outside and greenery inside the home. Interest in houseplants increased as a way to improve the home environment. Plants can have a positive effect on well-being, even if they cannot be considered effective air purifiers.
Thus, the Peace Lily becomes a Christmas gift of well-being that is not stressful to look after. It stands a chance of survival with even the least green-fingered of friends and family.
References and Further Reading
- Gibbens, Sarah (2019): Which houseplants should you buy to purify air? None of them. National Geographic. 14 November 2019
- Jones, Lawrie & Harvey, Alisa (2021): Do indoor plants purify air? Live Science.
- Joyner, Lisa (2019): Houseplants might not actually be impacting our Air Quality. Country Living. 11 November 2019.
Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.