Astronauts may be watering philodendrons on future flights, says Duane Hatch, a Utah State University horticulturist.

Hatch said studies conducted by NASA scientist B.C. Wolverton show plants do a superior job of removing pollutants such as benzene, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde from the environment.NASA researchers in Mississippi are examining the idea that plants can purify the air on a space station or spaceship, said Hatch. But, the implications go beyond spacecraft.

Because of today's tight, energy-efficient buildings, Hatch said, pollutants are not easily dispersed and can cause headaches and nausea.

Foliage plants such as devil's ivy and marnata or even flowering azaleas and chrysanthemums work well to clean the air, Hatch said.

"Foliage plants aren't fussy about light, water and temperature and will survive some benign neglect," Hatch said.