Can Carbon Monoxide Kill Houseplants?

Carbon monoxide is one of the most deadly substances you encounter on a daily basis. Silent, odorless, tasteless, and colorless, it can seep into your home to asphyxiate you with no detectable warning. But as dangerous as it is to humans and animals, what about plants?

Can Carbon Monoxide Kill Houseplants?

Plants are known for their ability to absorb carbon dioxide, so what does it do with carbon monoxide? Let’s learn about houseplants and how carbon monoxide affects them.

Can Carbon Monoxide Kill Plants?

Carbon monoxide kills humans and animals by binding with the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in their blood. This prevents red blood cells from being able to pick up oxygen and taking it to the rest of the body, leading to oxygen starvations (hypoxia).

Carbon monoxide does not hurt plants because plants will oxidize it into carbon dioxide, an essential material for photosynthesis. This means dying plants are also not a good indicator of carbon monoxide in an environment. The only way to reliably detect carbon monoxide in your home would be with a dedicated carbon monoxide detector.

Can Plants Neutralize Carbon Monoxide?

Certain plants might be helpful in reducing the amount of carbon monoxide or other harmful gases in the environment. As plants make use of carbon dioxide, having several in your home can significantly improve air quality in areas around them. The Boston fern, rubber plant, and areca palm, for example, are three species of plants shown to neutralize large amounts of carbon monoxide and pollutants like formaldehyde, radon, and disinfectant residue.

That being said, it’s not a good idea to think of houseplants as a replacement for carbon monoxide detectors. Though certain plant species can actually reduce carbon monoxide levels and make for a better breathing environment, relying solely on plants to cleanse the air in an environment or neutralize imperceptible poisons is not safe. ADT-brand carbon monoxide detectors alert you when the CO concentration increases above 70%. Always keep carbon monoxide detectors, as well as other types of detection technology, fully powered and in working order. Call a professional if you suspect that your home may have large amounts of a toxic substance in the air.


In short, carbon monoxide will not harm your houseplants. Certain plant species may even help to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide and other harmful airborne pollutants in your environment, making them a good measure to take for healthier air. Caring for houseplants has many notable effects on people’s moods and health, one of which happens to be better air to breathe.

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