Palm plant

Illustration: John Burgoyne

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Put Your Plants to Work
In the early 1980s, when NASA researchers were looking for ways to purify the air inside the space pods of the future, they didn't just look to engineer a pricey, high-tech filtering system. They also turned to the humble houseplant. As the months grow colder and darker, driving you indoors, take a cue from NASA and put your plants to work absorbing the air pollutants lurking in your home or office. O asked Bill Wolverton, PhD, who helped pioneer the NASA studies, to select a trio of potted powerhouses. (For freshest results, Wolverton recommends covering soil with a one-inch layer of pebbles or decorative gravel, which cuts the risk of mold and bacteria.)

1. Palms (bamboo, lady, and areca varieties): Palms not only are top performers in removing airborne toxins but can add up to a liter of moisture to the air per day—perfect for counteracting the desert-dry effects of indoor heating systems.

Next: This plant doesn't even need much sunlight
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