Are Cactus Good for Air Quality?

Plants do more than just decorate your home. They clean the air, or so some say. Not only that, but they spread good energy and make the place livelier.

There are all kinds of plants available for all kinds of people. Some are more high maintenance, and others low maintenance, like cacti. Cacti, like other plants, are great for air quality.

What Makes the Air Quality Poor?

Before the industrial revolution, indoor and outdoor air quality was roughly the same, nearly pristine. Perhaps it was even better before we discovered fire. However, as we made out lives increasingly convenient, we did so at the expense of our home, the Earth.

Air is polluted by several chemicals like carbon dioxide, benzene, formaldehyde, nitrogen oxides, Chlorofluorocarbons, and even sulfur oxides. These chemicals accumulate in the air mostly from cars, planes burning fuel, factory exhaust, and many more reasons.

What’s worse is that the air quality inside your home is worse than the air outside. We know what you’re thinking, there aren’t any cars or factories in your house, so why is that?

Things in our homes, like building materials, fabrics, furnishings, paint, and all release chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde over time. The harsh cleaning supplies at home are no saints either. Since your home is enclosed, most of these chemical particles remain inside.

Another difference leading indoor air quality to be poorer than outdoor air quality is, you guessed it, the lack of plants. For ages, you’ve heard in school and from experts on TV that plants clean up our air. The plants outside try their best to undo the effects of human pollution.

Understanding Air Quality

Air quality is measured in a unit called Parts-Per-Million or ppm. Let’s say there is twenty ppm of carbon dioxide in the air. That means if you gather a million particles of air, twenty of them will be carbon dioxide molecules.

If we want to improve the air quality at home, we need to reduce the ppm of air pollutants.

Air purifying machines pass the air at home through a filter and capture these chemicals and particles in the filter.

How Can Plants Improve Air Quality

Plants are natural air purifiers. Unlike other living things, plants are capable of making their food. Usually, when we hear “make their food,” we imagine someone slaving over a hot stove instead of ordering out.

However, when it comes to plants, they don’t have to consume another living plant or animal.

They can absorb chemicals from the air and soil and turn that into sugar using sunlight. You may have heard of this process called photosynthesis.

The chief ingredient in photosynthesis is carbon dioxide. They need the carbon for their food and discard the oxygen. Thus reducing the ppm of carbon in the air and increasing the ppm of oxygen.

Do Cactus Improve Air Quality

You’ll find some plants are ranked over others regarding improving air quality. Spider plant and pathos varieties are usually on the top of these lists.

It’s perfectly valid to wonder if cacti work to improve air quality too. Well, plants improve air quality through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis takes place primarily in the leaves. They are specially designed to optimize photosynthesis. Leaves and all green parts of the plant contain chlorophyll. That pigment is what facilitates photosynthesis.

While leaves are specially designed for photosynthesis, all green parts of plants photosynthesize. That means a green cactus, with or without leaves, can improve the air quality too.

A true cactus is usually a succulent that doesn’t have any leaves. Their leaves evolved into spines to protect cacti from wild animals. The stem is the main photosynthesizing organ and purifies the air around it.

Using Cactus and Other Plants to Improve Air Quality

Are plants enough to purify your air on their own? The more plants you have, the longer you have them, and the more light they get, the more your home’s indoor air quality will improve.

If you go somewhere like an indoor nursery and take a deep breath, you will instantly realize the air is amazing compared to outside or inside your home.

That being said, one cactus you bought a week ago may make a negligible difference, but it’s a start. Once you have enough plants, they will purify your air very well. However, they can’t be the only thing you depend on. You should consider getting an air purifier, use a filter in the kitchen and crack your window often.

However, that being said, indoor plants are the cheapest solution and become more and more effective as time passes. Even if you buy an expensive air purifier, pairing it with plants is the way to go.

Best Cactus Verities to Improve Air Quality

The spider and jade plants are great succulents for improving air quality. However, while they may be succulents, they aren’t cacti.

Here are some cacti that are great for improving the air quality at home

  1. Angel Wings Cactus
  2. Bishops Cap Cactus
  3. Chrismas Cactus
  4. Barrel Cactus

How to Optimize Air Purification with Cactus Plants

To give your cactus plants or any plants you have, the best shot of cleaning your air, you must provide them with enough light.

Most cacti prefer direct sunlight, and some need indirect sunlight. Either way, the more light they will get, the more they can photosynthesize and, in turn, clean the air.

That will be no problem in rooms with windows. However, if you want your cacti to clean the air in rooms without windows or natural light, you can invest in a grow light. That will empower you to place your plants in any part of the home. You will also be able to control how long your plants get sunlight.

FOLIAGEMS Live Cactus Plants from USKC (4"Pot Echinopsis Peanut Cactus)


The air in your house is polluted by chemicals released by fabrics, paints, furnishings, kitchen flames, and more. This makes the air even worse than outside.

Indoor plants improve air quality through photosynthesis and are the most sustainable solution. While the only cacti mentioned on NASA’s recommended list of air-purifying plants, all green cacti will purify your home. The more you have, the better!

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