Gardening Purifying the air with plants

Don’t Count on Oxygen From Houseplants to Keep You Breathing

Houseplants do produce oxygen, but not enough to meet your daily needs. Source: et clipartx

You shouldn’t count on oxygen from your houseplants to keep you breathing when there’s no other source of oxygen available.

Yes, they do produce a surplus of oxygen over carbon dioxide, but … not much. There are all sorts of complications in calculating this, but a few sources suggest the average leaf gives off about 5 milliliters of oxygen per hour (although that amount varies according to whether the plant is actively growing or not).

People, however, need 23 liters (that’s 23 thousand milliliters!) per hour.

If you were sealed in a room with no other source of oxygen, it would take about 150 to 300 fairly leafy, lustily growing plants to produce the oxygen you’d need to stay alive.

As a result of this calculation, I suggest avoiding sealed rooms if at all possible!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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