Plants are great to have indoors for various reasons. One of the top reasons is that through photosynthesis, plants release oxygen, so having plants can improve the air quality in your home. However, plants do the opposite at night and consume oxygen; so how much oxygen do they consume at night?
Indoor plants consume less than half the oxygen they produce during the day. They use more oxygen during the day, so even with them consuming some of it at night, there’s typically more oxygen in the room at night than when the plant was not in the room.
In this article, I will discuss how indoor plants consume oxygen at night and release it during the day. I will aslo and go over types of plants that do the complete opposite.
Plants’ Consumption and Release of Oxygen
During the day, plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. According to Science Line, indoor plants release ten times more oxygen during the day than they consume at night.
The reason this happens during the day is that photosynthesis needs sunlight. So, at night when there’s no sunlight, the process is reversed, and replaced by a process called respiration.
Respiration isn’t a cause for concern, though. For one, plants don’t consume the same amount of oxygen they produce. Another reason is that humans and animals consume way more oxygen than a plant or even multiple plants can.
So, there isn’t a possibility for someone to suffer oxygen deprivation due to a plant consuming oxygen at night.
It’s been proven that air quality improves the more plants you have in a room. Now, to see a difference in oxygen levels, this will depend on the size of the room and the number of people or pets breathing in the oxygen. A small room with one person won’t require as many plants as a large room with four people and a dog.
Harmful Toxins in the Air
There are a lot of harmful toxins present in the air we breathe in every day. Luckily some plants are known for removing these toxins from the air while also adding fresh oxygen to the atmosphere.
Before we get into the types of plants that eliminate toxins from the atmosphere, we’ll need to understand these harmful elements. We also need to appreciate where they come from and why their removal from the air is a good thing.
- Benzene: This harmful toxin comes from burning coal or oil, such as car exhaust or gas station evaporation. Benzene also comes from smoking tobacco. Millions use all these items daily, putting these harmful toxins in the air.
- Xylene: This toxin comes from petroleum and wood-burning industries. Exposure to xylene can come from gas stations, using paint thinner or remover. Exposure to this harmful substance can cause dizziness, eye, skin, and throat irritation, headaches, and in severe cases death.
- Formaldehyde: This is a harmful gas that is highly flammable. It’s used in the production of fertilizer, paper, resin, and plywood. It is also used in food preservatives and other products such as medicines, antiseptics, and cosmetics. Continuous formaldehyde exposure has been known to cause cancer.
- Toluene: This is found in many products you probably didn’t even know about. Toluene is used in paint, nail polish, gasoline, and dyes. Too much exposure can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. More severe issues from prolonged exposure or exposure to large amounts can cause nerve, liver, or kidney damage.
- Trichloroethylene: The name trichloroethylene is quite a mouthful. Unfortunately it’s present in more products than you’d think. It’s found in grease removers, adhesives, paint removers, and spot removers. Exposure can cause skin irritation, headaches, dizziness, and in severe cases, liver damage or even death.
Plants That Produce Oxygen at Night and Purify the Air
Various plants are exceptionally good at purifying the air by absorbing numerous harmful toxins. Some plants that do well at purifying the air also produce oxygen at night instead of during the day.
According to the Khan Academy, these plants manage to do this because they have crassulacean acid metabolism, also known as CAM photosynthesis. This is a carbon fixation pathway that allows a plant to photosynthesize during the day but exchange gasses during the night.
Even though plants don’t consume a large amount of oxygen at night, if you want to balance things out, you can get some of these plants that produce oxygen at night. This way, you will have plants producing oxygen 24/7.
Here are some plants that produce oxygen at night and are also great at purifying the air in your home.
- Snake plant: a snake plant has long leaves that stick straight up. The leaves are dark green with a yellow border. Snake plants tolerate various harsh conditions and require a sparse watering schedule. According to Ferns ‘N’ Petals, this plant is recognized by NASA for purifying the air by removing formaldehyde, nitrogen oxide, benzene, xylene, and trichloroethylene.
- Spider plant: This type of plant has long, slender leaves that start straight up but then curve down at the ends, resembling spider legs. Its leaves are usually a light green with a faint white or soft green edge. It is also easy to care for, doesn’t require much attention, but must be watered once a week. A spider plant filters out carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene, making it a top choice for better air quality.
- Areca palm: An areca palm is a tall plant with long stems and multiple skinny leaves hanging from the top. This plant is known for absorbing harmful toxins and has also been proven to help with child and fetus development.
- The weeping fig: A weeping fig plant has dark green clusters of leaves that grow up the stem. NASA has also recognized this plant for absorbing harmful toxins such as formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene.
- Aloe vera plant: Aloe vera is known for removing benzene and formaldehyde from the air. It is also renowned for having medical and skin care benefits from the slimy, gel-like substance contained within its leaves. You can add aloe vera gel to your skincare routine in multiple ways or add it to your diet for health benefits.
- Tulsi: This plant supposedly brings good luck into your home. It also absorbs carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide from the air, all harmful elements if consumed. In addition to keeping toxins out of your home, it also produces oxygen for the larger part of the day- up to 20 hours. So, by having tulsi indoors, you’ll get the best of both worlds because it will make oxygen during the day and at night.
- Bamboo palm: This particular bamboo plant is an insect repellant – it repels spider mites. It is also one of the top choices for removing harmful toxins such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from the air. The bamboo palm is particularly beneficial since it adds moisture to the air.
- Chinese evergreen: This is another lovely indoor plant known for its pretty foliage. The Chinese evergreen also removes benzene and formaldehyde from the air in your home. And the best part? It lives for up to 10 years if well-taken care of.
Having indoor plants is hugely beneficial to the quality of air. At night, indoor plants produce ten times the amount of oxygen used during the day through photosynthesis than they consume during respiration.
Nevertheless, the amount of oxygen consumed at night by some houseplants won’t affect your oxygen supply. It’s been proven that the amount of oxygen improves with plants in a room no matter the amount consumed during respiration.
Many plants also remove seriously harmful toxins from the air while producing oxygen at night instead of during the day. Adding these plants can positively increase your air quality.
If you want to learn about oxygen-producing indoor plants, you could check out my other article here: Most Oxygen Producing Indoor Plants (Complete Guide)