If you’re based in the Northern hemisphere, you’ll be spending more time inside once winter settles in. Our post on hygge earlier this month provides compelling reasons why creating a hygge atmosphere can make all the difference this winter. This is also an ideal opportunity to hone your indoor horticulturist skills.

The benefits of being outside and spending time in nature have been well studied and include decreased stress levels.  Indoor greenery can lower stress levels and in addition, have serious air purifying qualities. If you’re in the Southern hemisphere, where summer is getting into full swing, it’s easy to apply these tips to your office garden, too.
Soapwalla founder Rachel Winard has an inspiring green thumb. Both her rooftop garden and apartment and Soapwalla studio indoor plants are impressive.  Our Rachel-approved guide is perfect for those who who are hesitant to jump into the world of botany, and is a great tip-filled resource for green thumbs.
“In 1973, NASA scientists identified 107 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the air inside the Skylab space station. Synthetic materials, like those used in construction, give off low levels of chemicals. This effect, known as off-gassing, spreads the VOCs, such as formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene, all known irritants and potential carcinogens. When these chemicals are trapped without circulation, the inhabitants may become ill, as the air they breathe is not given the natural scrubbing by Earth’s complex ecosystem.” In the 1960s, BC Wolverton, a former NASA scientist, studied plants as an efficient and cost-effective system of controlling indoor air pollution: “These air quality studies tracked common indoor air pollutants such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde – chemicals that often leech from paint, carpeting, and treated lumber and are often found at unhealthy levels within the home and office.” Source
BC Wolverton didn’t want to sap energy sources or create complex additives to solve the problem. He published his remarkable findings about using plants to improve indoor air quality in dozens of technical papers while with the Space Agency. Wolverton also released a consumer resorce, “How to Grow Fresh Air: 50 Houseplants That Purify Your Home or Office.” Source
Most of these plants you can set and forget like a crockpot; others you may have to sing to on a regular basis. Our favorite plants are both good-looking and safe for cats and dogs (if your furry friends like to chew on greenery, it’s always safest to place plants high up where they cannot reach).


1. Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)– Removes toluene and xylene from the air and can help to increase overall air purification. This TED talk covers how to grow your own pure air. Areca Palm care.

2. Money Tree (Pachira aquaticHelps reduce benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and xylene from the air. According to ASPCA, great for asthmatics and those with lung conditions and those who live in high city smog living conditions (hello, NYC!).

3. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) – A Rachel favorite ;) Who doesn’t love this popular 70s plant?! Ideal for placing in rooms/homes that have been freshly painted. Works to decrease exposure to benzene, formaldehyde, toluene and xylene. Care tips. 

4. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) -- Helps to remove formaldehyde, xylene and toluene and acts as a natural humidifier for most indoor areas. Care tips.

Colorful plants too!

5. Purple Waffle plant (Hemigraphis exotica) - Helps to remove formaldehyde from the air. Great for bedrooms and overall air purification; it may improve air quality.

6. Lilyturf – This plant can increase oxygen levels to improve air quality. Great for spaces where you are exposed to cleaning products.

7. Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis sp)– Excellent plant for an increase of air purification, particularly ideal for recently painted rooms or where paint fumes exist (hi artists!).  

   Safe plant list adapted from HERE
Image Sources 
Top :: Photo DTTSP 
Bottom :: Photo L   DTTSP, Bottom R Hanging Plant