Many people want to make their homes as clear, fresh, and pure as they can be, and we often look to houseplants to provide us with this service. Monstera plants have enjoyed an explosion of popularity in recent years, and that might leave you wondering if they do purify the air.
Monstera plants, like many other plants, can remove a small number of carcinogens from the air, and they are considered one of the most effective houseplants for this purpose. However, there is a lot of debate about the true usefulness of any houseplant for improving the quality of the air in a home.
Can Any Plants Improve Air Quality?
You have probably heard many times that having plants in your home makes the air better to breathe, and as air pollution is becoming an increasing problem in our world, a lot of people are interested in this idea. You might already have started buying houseplants to make your home a healthier place to be.
With more and more people working from home, it is no surprise that many of us are looking for ways to improve the home environment, and this can cover anything from decor to air quality. A lot of people turn to Monstera plants as a great option.
The theory behind growing more plants in the home is based on a 1989 study that was undertaken by NASA. They were looking for a way to improve the quality of air in the space station and conducted a study with some plants to see if the plants could help to absorb some of the unwanted and dangerous particulates.
The study was a success, and NASA found that certain houseplants were effective at removing carcinogens such as formaldehyde, ammonia, and benzyne from the air. People were amazed, and the information spread quickly, encouraging many people to buy houseplants.
Further studies seem to reinforce these findings, and because of the constant increase in air pollution, combined with a greater understanding of how bad this is for our health, a lot of people are trying to use houseplants to ensure that the air in their homes is safe to breathe.
It is certain that plants can absorb some harmful carcinogens from the air, and that they do this to some degree as they photosynthesize. This has been proven repeatedly.
However, it is not been proven that houseplants can make any difference in the average home, or at least that they can make any difference significant enough to be measurable and worth considering. Claims that plants can reduce headaches and get rid of breathing difficulties are certainly overstated and not backed up by science.
Do Monstera Plants Improve The Air Quality?
To be fair to Monstera plants, they probably are particularly effective among houseplants for this purpose. They are huge, growing up to ten feet indoors, and they have big, wide leaves.
It is thought that a larger amount of leaf surface area means more effective removal of toxins, and Monstera plants certainly have plenty of leaf surface area. That means if you are looking for a plant that is very effective when it comes to removing carcinogens, the Monstera plant is a great option.
Overall, though, despite the Monstera’s leaf size, it is questionable whether or not they can make enough difference to the home for it to be worth considering them “purifiers.”
Can Any Plants Purify The Home?
The studies that have been done sparked public imagination, and many online trends have run with the idea without really having a good understanding of how it works. So far, no studies have shown that houseplants make a difference to air quality in a “normal” setting.
Indeed, some people say that to make a noticeable difference, you would need so many houseplants that you would no longer be able to move inside your own home. The effect of the houseplants is certainly verifiable, but it is only a small effect.
Although the NASA study was interesting, it is important to note that it took place in a highly controlled and small environment – a space station. There was no exchange of air with the outdoors, and the plants were grown in absolutely perfect light to maximize their photosynthesis.
That means that if you try and replicate the effect in your own home, you are not likely to have much success, because it simply isn’t possible to recreate these conditions. All homes exchange air with the outside world, no matter how good the insulation is, and few homes are able to grow plants in perfect conditions.
Every time you open a window or a door, and even when you have them all closed, air will be exchanged with the outside. Seals, cracks, crevices, and the general porous nature of houses – which is important to our survival as well – prevent this experiment from being replicated at home.
Your Monstera plant might pull carcinogens out of a very close radius around its leaves, but it will not be making any noticeable difference to the overall air quality, because the air is constantly changing. Cleaned air will be sucked out, and new air will be brought in before the plant has had any chance to make a difference.
Could A Monstera Be Used As A Purifier?
Of course, if the findings of the experiment are sound, you can use Monstera plants to purify a space, but you need to reduce the amount of air turnover (which means no AC, no heating systems, and an airtight space) and you would need a lot of plants to have a significant impact.
It has been suggested that two large plants, such as two Monstera plants, could be used to purify about a hundred square feet of space in the right conditions. Scale that up, and you can see you would need about twenty houseplants in a home of around a thousand square feet.
That is a big ask, even for people who love their plants. Note that we are talking twenty big plants, not twenty little spider plants or a few aloe vera. Few people are ready to give that much space in the home to plants, and it is also a big commitment in terms of time and energy.
You should also remember that the plants need to be extremely healthy to be as effective as the studies found them to be. If your plants are sickly and are not photosynthesizing as efficiently as usual, they will not be cleaning your home as you expect.
Are Monstera Plants More Effective Than Other Plants?
If you do still want to try purifying your home with plants, Monstera plants are a good option. Their large leaves mean that they will effectively pull carcinogens from the air and make your space a little bit safer and nicer to breathe in.
It’s important to consider that while many people are concerned about the fallacy of houseplants purifying the air and how quickly it has been accepted as gospel truth, there is no harm in having houseplants.
They may not help to the degree that has been suggested by the studies, but they are still helping a bit. The more greenery we add to the world, the more carcinogens will be absorbed overall, and the healthier we will all become.
Even if the cleaned air is then sent back outside by the vents or AC system in your home, it will still be cleaner than it was before it interacted with your Monstera, and if you are concerned about air pollution, this might be considered a win.
You can, of course, plant other houseplants too. Snake plants, peace lilies, spider plants, bamboo, and dragon trees are all known as particularly effective purifiers, although the Monstera plant is larger and therefore likely more powerful overall.
As long as you are aware that you are probably not making a big difference to the quality of the air in your home, there is no reason not to get a Monstera. It will bring you joy in many other ways, and houseplants have been proven to improve mental health.
Just don’t fall for the idea that it will instantly make your home free from all contaminants and will magically cure all your ailments – because it won’t. While plants are amazing and can certainly help improve air quality (and we should all be planting as many as possible), they will not have a significant or measurable impact on the air quality in your home.
You might choose to purchase and grow a Monstera plant simply because they are beautiful, large, and impressive things. A Monstera will bring you joy, add beauty to your home, and may improve your mental health.
However, it is unlikely that it will make any noticeable or measurable difference to the quality of the air in your home. A single Monstera simply doesn’t have enough impact to do this, and the air in the home cycles too quickly for even multiple plants to have much effect. That said, plants do improve the overall air quality on the planet, and it’s worth planting one anyway.