Can a houseplant produce significant O2?

Can a houseplant produce significant amounts of O2?

I have a 7 foot tall ‘Brown Turkey ‘ fig growing in my living room. Sometimes I swear I can “smell “ the O2 coming off of it. You know, the sensation when you walk into a densely planted greenhouse?

I looked it up: There’s a theoretical maximum of 600 cf gaseous O2 in a liter of water, which is a little less than what I give it every day. O2 is about 21% of the atmosphere. So, there’s a theoretical maximum of 3,000 cf of air of the 11,000 cf of air we breathe every day.

If my plant converts H2O to O2 at 50% efficiency that would be about 10cf O2 per hour. Plausible? More to the point: Noticeable?


Figs have lots of smells other than O2. The guy at my post office and many others say that figs smell like cat pee. A greenhouse has many smells other than O2. Sort of like the smells outside after a rain.

Plants don’t convert anywhere near 50% of water to O2. Probably 98% of water is used for transpiration, ie is lost from the leaves. That’s just a guess and it would vary but most water is lost into the atmosphere.

back-of-an-envelope calculations suggest you’d need around 400 houseplant-sized plants

If we assume that minimally “significant” O2 is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% of your needs you would need at least 80 houseplant sized plants or probably 30 fig trees in 10 gal pots.