I'm looking for an plant with main purpose of oxygen production and CO2 removal in the house. The ideal plant whould have the following features:

  1. Produce fair amount of oxygen;
  2. Not very demanding in terms of care (watering, old leaves removal etc), ideally "plant and forget";
  3. No strong smell;
  4. Not very demanding to sunlight;

Could anyone suggest such a plant?

  • 2
    I suggest opening a window would be much more efficient and very low maintenance. Mar 1, 2019 at 16:09
  • @blacksmith i find it funny how everyone's throwing in names of all kinds of plants and all with reasons and descriptions and you come along and be like "just open up a window". Mar 3, 2019 at 22:00

3 Answers 3


Most plants will increase oxygen content in the air, and the more plants you have, the greater the effect. Just having a single plant will make a very small difference, but the effect will be much greater with, say, 6 houseplants. Many are also good at absorbing indoor pollutants along with carbon dioxide as well as putting out oxygen. The most commonly mentioned ones for both oxygen and indoor pollutants are Sansevieria, Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), Dracaena varieties such as D. marginata, Aloe vera and palms such as Areca. All are relatively easy care, but will require the usual care with watering routine (more info below). Dracaena marginata tolerates pretty low light conditions and is easy care, but if you have pets, dracaenas are toxic if ingested,though toxicity on ingestion is not uncommon with many plants. Palms are obviously large plants, so consider whether you have the space for any of those. The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) increases oxygen and cleans the air, and is particularly easy care,tolerating quite low light conditions.

There are many links to sites giving information about cleaning up air pollutants with houseplants and increasing oxygen levels; this link is specifically in regard to increasing oxygen, but the list of plants they give is by no means exhaustive, and not all of them are long term houseplants or necessarily very easy care https://lunginstitute.com/blog/top-5-plants-for-increasing-oxygen/

There are some rules to observe even with easy care houseplants - none should be placed near a heat source, all will need daylight in varying degrees (but often no sun is preferred), and all will require drainage holes in their pots, as well as watering regularly to a greater or lesser extent depending on the plant, along with never leaving any outer tray or pot full of water for longer than 30 minutes after watering.

  • These are great suggestions! Just be aware if you have pets in the house, as many plants are toxic to them, especially cats! I believe all that are listed above are toxic to cats (especially lilies). I didn't learn this until after I started collecting plants, so I like to make sure it's known :)
    – Gwendolyn
    Mar 1, 2019 at 17:37
  • @Gwendolyn - that is already mentioned in my answer, but in reality, no self respecting, adult cat chews on houseplants UNLESS it does not have access to grass in or out of doors. Housecats should be provided with cat grass, grown specially for them, to solve this problem. Dogs are somewhat of a different matter... some of those will chew anything for no reason at all.
    – Bamboo
    Mar 1, 2019 at 18:16
  • Oh shoot, you're right! I can't read! Sorry about that. My cats are indoor cats and do not have cat grass, and they do not chew on my plants. I've tried giving them cat grass, but they'll have none of it. Cat nip on the other hand.... ;)
    – Gwendolyn
    Mar 1, 2019 at 18:20
  • Cats only need to nibble on grass when they need to clear a fur ball, it acts as an emetic and helps them get the fur up. - for short hair cats, that will be pretty infrequent, maybe once a year at most...
    – Bamboo
    Mar 1, 2019 at 19:47

In addition to the other answers, it is important to note that...

During photosynthesis, plants release oxygen. Photosynthesis occurs when a plant is exposed to light.

During cellular respiration, plants release carbon dioxide. Cellular respiration occurs constantly.

Plants do not photosynthesise at night (without light).

At night, plants produce only carbon dioxide.

As noted by others there are exceptions. For this reason, we only keep Sansevieria sp. in our bedroom, as it has the capacity to absorb carbon dioxide at night.

For clarity:

Plants absorb the energy they need through aerobic (cellular) respiration, which is a chemical reaction that uses the oxygen in the air and glucose from within the plant to form carbon dioxide and water. The plant derives the energy it needs to live from the water and carbon dioxide formed by the respiration process. To remain alive, the plant must respire at all times.

Cellular respiration is linked to photosynthesis but the outcome is opposite. Photosynthesis uses energy from light, primarily from the Sun and the carbon dioxide in the air to produce oxygen. Cellular respiration uses up oxygen and produces carbon dioxide.

Not only do plants respire at all times, the rate of respiration remains constant throughout the day and night. In bright light, the rate of photosynthesis exceeds the respiration rate, while in dim light the rate is about the same. In darkness, photosynthesis stops but respiration continues.

From Wikipedia...

Sansevieria - Air purification

According to a NASA Clean Air Study, along with other plants such as golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) and corn plant (Dracaena fragrans), Sansevieria trifasciata is capable of purifying air by removing some toxins such as formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Sansevieria use the crassulacean acid metabolism process, which absorbs carbon dioxide at night, although oxygen is released during daylight. Nighttime absorption of CO₂ purportedly makes them especially suitable bedroom plants. However, since the leaves are potentially poisonous if ingested, Sansevieria is not usually recommended for children's bedrooms.


One of the most recommended plants to improve indoor air quality is the snake plant. Though most plants produce oxygen during the day, the snake plant actually produces it at night while simultaneously taking in carbon dioxide. They are among the easiest houseplants to grow, making them a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners. Needs indirect sunlight, occasional watering, has no smell and does the job of cleaning the air of harmful toxins.


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