Some of my family and friends have moved into condos near major roads. The air quality in their homes is not the greatest. I’d like to learn more about what types of plants would be most useful and how to keep them alive. Any advice you have would be great!
Fortunately there have been several credible studies and empirical evidence to answer your question.
I will cite you an excerpt from a NASA study ;
In the NASA testing, flowering plants, such as chrysanthemums and gerbera daisies, effectively removed benzene from the chamber’s atmosphere. Golden pothos, spider plants and philodendron were the most effective in removing formaldehyde molecules. Other top performers were red-edged dracaena and the Peace Lilly. The rest of the plants tested, with the exception of Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestum), were effective at removing at least one of the chemicals from the air. NASA researchers found that plants absorb airborne substances through tiny openings in their leaves, but roots and soil bacteria are also part of the purification process.
The study concluded that in an 1,800-square-foot house, occupants should incorporate 15 to 18 houseplants in 6- to 8-inch diameter containers to improve air quality. The larger and more vigorously they grow, the better.
A further summary of this NASA study is cited in this linked article, but I have pulled out the part you are looking for below;
The top 10 plants which were most effective in removing pollutants and are as follows;
1. Flamingo Lily (Anthurium spp.): Anthurium is one of the best air purifying plant. this plant is beautify your home with their red heart shape flower, Most common colors of anthuriums are red and shades of red. Anthuriums need a high light but not direct sunlight. it’s remove toxins like benzene, formaldehyde and xylene from air to take a fresh breathe.
2. Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens): Areca Palm is widely used plants for bright interior and air purifying plants. it’s require sufficient in direct sunlight and water. Areca palm is easily available in local nursery. it’s removed xylene, toluene and formaldehyde from air and make it cleaner to take fresh oxygen.
3. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’): Peace lily is excellent choice for home or office and also excellent plant for air purifying. like many indoor plants peace lily require medium to low light and easy to care. peace lily have dark green leaves and white flowers it’s make it beautiful. they are best air purifying plants and removed toxins like ammonia, benzene and trichloroethylene.
4. English Ivy (Hedera helix): English ivy plants are superb climber they can climb any surface by means of small roots that grow along the stems. Prefers moist, shady locations and avoids exposure to direct sunlight, the latter promoting drying out in winter. It’s removed pollutants from air like benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
5. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata): Boston ferns are popular houseplants, it’s easily available. Boston fern is required extra humidity and check the soil on daily basic when it’s feel dry, provide them sufficient amount of water. it’s removed xylene, toluene and formaldehyde from air. you can have 1-2 plant in 100 sq. ft. for best air purifying result.
6. Money Plant(Epipremnum aureum): Money Plant is a popular houseplant that is grown indoors mostly in water and best air purifying plants. It is believed that having money plant at home brings good luck, happiness, wealth and prosperity. It’s very easy to grow in water filled bottle and soil. it’s difficult to kill so it’s called devil’s vine. money plant removed pollutants, benzene, xylene and formaldehyde.
7. Snake Plant(Sansevieria): Snake plant care is very straightforward. they can survive low light levels, drought and have few insect problems. NASA research has even shown that snake plants are able to keep the air inside your home clean, removing toxins such as formaldehyde and benzene. they are perfect houseplants for air purifying.
8. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum): The spider plant is considered one of the most adaptable of houseplants and the easiest to grow. This plant can grow in a wide range of conditions. The spider plant is so named because of its spider-like plants. they are best air purifying plants, remove pollutants from air such as xylene, toluene and formaldehyde.
9. Cornstalk Dracaena (Dracaena fragrans): dracaena grows well as a houseplant in any location. it’s enjoys medium light but can tolerate low light conditions. New leaves will narrow if there isn’t enough light and direct sunlight will bleach the leaves. During the active growth period water plentifully, as often as necessary to keep the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but never allow the pot to stand in water. It’s removed pollutants form air such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.
10.Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina): These ficus trees are slow-growing, but can grow to 10 ft indoors. Dwarf varieties only reach 3 ft (90 cm) tall. You can prune tall branches to control the plant’s height. having ficus in living room help to purifying air and remove pollutants such as xylene, toluene and formaldehyde.