While architects are raving about the benefits of plant-covered facades, you don’t need to entirely mask your building with greenery in order to get the same benefits. Starting in the 1980s, NASA scientists began to study the potential for houseplants to purify the air inside space stations and found that certain kinds of plants are significantly better at removing chemicals and pollutants.
A number of plants were demonstrated to remove known carcinogens—like benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde—from the air. NASA’s rule of thumb is to have one air-purifying plant for every 100 square feet of space.
Large-leafed philodendron plants, including the trendy monstera plant, were shown to be one of the most effective for reducing air pollution. Just don’t let small kids or pets eat the leaves since they’re toxic. Aloe is a relatively easy plant to grow that also cleans indoor air.
Other top purifying plants include Snake Plant, Peace Lily, English Ivy, Spider Plant, Gerbera Daisy, Dragon Tree, and Bamboo.
If plain ‘ole plants aren’t doing it for you aesthetically, you could always plot them into levitating containers or give them tiny treehouses. For more tips on urban gardening, head on over to the Curbed Handbook.