Skip to main content

I’m sick of winter. Looking out my window and seeing that it’s so much more gray than green out there drags me down. Instead of getting really whiny about it though (which, to be honest, could happen at any second), I’ve decided to fill my house with green—in the form of houseplants—instead.

One tiny little problem? I am not skilled in the art of keeping plants alive.

Sound familiar? If you’re not a green-thumbed queen, I did you a solid and researched a few of the easiest plants to keep alive. I also cross-referenced them with a list from NASA’s Clean Air Study that found the most effective houseplants for filtering toxins and pollutants out of your home or office.

The result? A list of 5 low-maintenance houseplants that will do more work for you than you have to do for them.


Easy to grow, aloe just needs sunlight and for you to remember to water it every two weeks or so. Aside from adding a little texture to your décor, this plant filters formaldehyde and benzene from the air. Added bonus? You can cut open the leaves and rub their gel onto your skin to help heal cuts and burns.

Spider plants fall under the almost-impossible-to kill category. They only need light watering (the soil should be completely dry before you remember again) and bright indirect sunlight. These plants filter out a variety of pollutants including: benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene. They’re also pet safe!

Pro tip: black tips on the leaves mean it’s getting too much water.

Snake plants (also weirdly called mother-in-law’s tongue) filter out formaldehyde. They also absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen at night which can help you sleep better, making them great plants to keep in your bedroom. These guys thrive in low light and humidity, so they’re good for bathrooms too.

golden pothos.jpeg

Golden pothos, a fast-growing cascading vine, is another one that’s hard to kill (I’ve kept mine alive for well over a year now, which is no small feat for me!). They like bright, indirect light and don’t like to be over watered (which is exactly why mine is still alive!). These filter out formaldehyde, but be careful with them around children and pets—they’re poisonous. I keep mine high up in hanging baskets.

Aside from being really pretty, the peace lily does a really good job of removing mold spores. They also filter formaldehyde and trichloroethylene. These beauties don’t require much water or sun, making them relatively easy to care for. They are, however, extremely toxic to cats.

So, now that we know what plants to look for, we can pick up a few gorgeous planters, right? Because these hanging metal planters from West Elm are calling my name!

JENNIFER GARRY is a writer and the mom of two girls who talk as much and laugh as loud as she does (just ask her husband). She writes about motherhood with humor and brutal honesty on her personal blog, Cuddles and Chaos. Read all of Jennifer's posts.