Here’s How Your Gorgeous Orchids Clean The Air In Your Home

Here's How Your Gorgeous Orchids Clean The Air In Your Home

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, we spend almost 90% of our time indoors. Therefore, indoor air quality (IAQ) plays a crucial role in our health, especially for kids, elderly people, and those suffering from asthma or heart conditions. Common indoor activities such as smoking, using commercial cleaners, or employing paint strippers can all lead to air pollution inside your house. Although you can purchase an air purifier to improve IAQ, why spend your money on an expensive device when you can get similar benefits from an exotic houseplant like orchids?

Orchids are not only popular among homeowners because of their stunning blooms, but they are also great at removing harmful compounds like xylene (found in paints and glues) from the atmosphere. They can also eliminate other pollutants, such as toluene and formaldehyde, from the surrounding air, thus promoting healthy indoor conditions. However, it is important to choose the right variety of orchid and take proper care of it to prevent it from dying.

Orchid varieties that will improve your home’s IAQ

Dendrobium orchids on table

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While orchids are believed to improve your home’s IAQ, not all species are effective. This means you must choose the right kinds of orchids for air purification. A 2002 experiment conducted on different varieties of orchids found that Cymbidium rubrigemmum came out on top (per a literature review conducted by Wageningen University & Research). This epiphyte successfully removed multiple pollutants from the air, including nitrous oxide, formaldehyde, and benzene. In comparison, Cymbidium virescens was best at ridding the air of ammonia. On the other hand, Cymbidium sinense was especially useful in removing trichloroethylene.

Plant enthusiasts and florists recommend getting Dendrobium orchids, or stalk orchids, for your home if IAQ is your primary concern. According to anecdotal claims, this orchid genus is good at eliminating acetone, alcohols, chloroform, and formaldehyde from the immediate environment. Though these white orchids may be too plain for your tastes, they’re said to be better than eye-catching varieties like moth orchids when it comes to cleansing the air indoors.

How do orchids purify air?

Person holding cup

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An orchid’s ability to remove pollutants from the air might seem magical, but there’s a perfectly logical explanation. These finicky houseplants improve air quality by taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere during photosynthesis. Although this is a common process for all plants, orchids stand out since they even produce oxygen at night, unlike the majority of their brethren. The extra influx of oxygen in the air ensures you’ve fresh air to breathe in throughout the day.

Orchids also absorb pollutants from the air during transpiration — plants draw water from the soil and release the excess in the form of vapor through microscopic stomatal openings on stems, flowers, and leaves. When the vapor droplets begin evaporating from the aerial parts, the plant pulls in toxins from the air and moves them to their roots and leaves. However, don’t rely on just orchids to improve your home’s air quality. Adopt small habits like regularly opening windows and using exhaust fans to boost your IAQ and make your home smell better than ever.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.