Low Allergy Houseplants: Which Houseplants Relieve Allergies
By: Anne Baley
Newer, energy-efficient homes are great for saving money on utility bills, but they’re also more airtight than homes built in past years. For people who suffer from allergies due to pollen and other indoor pollutants, this means more sneezing and watery eyes indoors. You can get relief from this problem by growing certain houseplants that collect pollen and pollutants in their leaves, helping to clean the air in your home.
Houseplants for allergy relief generally have larger leaves and make an attractive statement in your home. Most take very little care, and some low allergy houseplants even remove dangerous chemicals, such as formaldehyde, from the air.
Growing Houseplants for Allergy Relief
Houseplants for allergy sufferers have two advantages: some of them clean the air and none of them produce excess pollen to make allergies worse. Like all plants though, these varieties have the potential for making allergies worse if they’re not cared for correctly.
Every plant can be a dust catcher if you put it in a corner or on a shelf and never do anything but water it now and then. Wipe down the plant leaves with a damp paper towel once a week or so to prevent dust buildup.
Only water the soil in houseplants for allergies when the soil becomes dry to the touch, about the first inch or so (2.5 cm.). Excess water leads consistently damp soil and this can be the perfect environment for mold to grow.
Houseplants for Allergies
Once you realize that having plants in your home can actually be a good thing, the question remains: Which houseplants relieve allergies the best?
NASA conducted a Clean Air Study to determine which plants would work well in closed environments such as Mars and Lunar bases. The top plants they recommend include the following:
- Mums and peace lilies, which help to remove PCE from the air
- Golden pothos and philodendron, which can control formaldehyde
- Gerbera daisies to control benzene
- Areca palm to humidify the air
- Lady palm and bamboo palm as general air cleaners
- Dracaena, well known for grabbing allergens from the air and holding them in its leaves
One plant you should know about if you are allergic to latex is the fig. Fig tree leaves give off a sap that includes latex in its chemical makeup. For latex allergy sufferers, this is the last plant you want to have in your home.
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5 Best Allergy Friendly House Plants
Did you know certain plants can help clear the air in your home? NASA’s official Clean Air Study sets the record straight. Here’s a quick list of the plants to have in your home:
1. The Areca Palm
The most efficient air humidifier. You can count on the Areca Palm to keep your home moist when it’s dry, like in winter.
2. The Lady Palm
This versatile air-purifying plant thrives in dry or humid climates, and resists most types of plant-eating insects.
3. The Bamboo Palm
A little higher-maintenance than the first two on this list, the Bamboo Palm thrives when kept moist (but not wet) in indirect sunlight, and is a great air purifier.
4. The Dracaena
Nicknamed the “Janet Craig” after a prominent nurseryman’s daughter, the Dracaena is beautiful and versatile, with shiny deep-green leaves. It is renowned for trapping allergens in its leaves.
5. Other Options: Colorful Houseplants
There are some bright, colorful plants that produce pollens that are heavier and stickier. Plus, they are less likely to cause allergic reactions. Consider the Peace Lily, Marginata or English Ivy.
Allergy inducing plants
Firstly, you may need to avoid wind-pollinated plants if you’re somebody who suffers with allergies or hay fever. Unfortunately, many of our common trees are just that—wind-pollinated.
Examples include Betula (birch), Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut), Quercus robur (oak), Acer pseudoplatanus (sycamore), Taxus baccata (yew), to name a few. All of these will produce large amounts of pollen in early summer. However, trees that produce attractive blossom are better—and visually pleasing. Some examples of trees that you may find less troublesome come hay fever season would be Amelanchier (shadbush), Cornus (dogwood), Rosaceae (crab apples) and other fruit trees.
One rule to remember is that, generally, bee- and butterfly-friendly shrubs and perennials are better to allergy sufferers. This is because insect-pollenated flowers won’t give you as much grief as wind-pollinated ones. Plus, the bees and butterflies will benefit too!
bee & Butterfly friendly plants
looks like this! Easy to spot when
Weeding, for those of you with allergies, may aggravate your symptoms. However, all isn’t lost because the answer is weed-suppressing ground cover plants, such as hardy Geraniums and Alchemilla, shade-loving (clump-forming varieties of) Epimedium or, the eternally useful, Pachysandra.
To avoid a sniffly spring, it might be time to lose the lawn. Being wind-pollinated, all grasses are unfavourable for allergy sufferers. Which might explain why your hay fever flairs up around spring when it’s lawn mowing season? Perhaps try keeping areas near the house grass-free and opt for a stoned or decked patio instead.
This goes for pollen heavy plants around your home too—best not to plant Chrsyanthemums, Helianthus annuus (common sunflowers) or Wisteria near to your windows and doors were pollen can be blown into the house. For alternative outdoor climbing plants to compliment your brickwork, without the added pollenated problems, try Clematis armandii for a sun-loving climber with a vibrant floral display.
pollen attack from May to early
September, but it’s usually
You'll have fewer worries with these plants that make little to no airborne pollen. So you can enjoy working with them and watching them grow.
Begonia, cactus, chenille, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil, dusty miller, geranium, hosta, impatiens, iris, lily, pansy, periwinkle, petunia, phlox, rose, salvia, snapdragon, thrift, tulip, verbena, zinnia.
Hypoallergenic sunflower seeds
All these grow 5 to 6 feet tall, and the pollen is too heavy to be spread easily.
Apricot Twist (apricot with gold center), Infrared Mix (dark crimson, ruby, golden-reds), The Joker (showy red-and-yellow double blooms), Pro-Cut Bicolor (stunning mahogany and yellow with black centers).
Azalea, boxwood (if clipped often), hibiscus, hydrangea, viburnum.
Apple, cherry, Chinese fan palm (female), fern pine (female), dogwood, English holly (female), Bradford pear, crepe myrtle, hardy rubber tree, magnolia, pear, plum, red maple (female).
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Richard Weber, MD, allergist, National Jewish Medical and Research Center, Denver.
Tom Ogren, author,В Allergy-Free Gardening,В Ten Speed Press, 2000 Safe Sex in the Garden, Ten Speed Press, 2004.
A few tips how how to help your indoor plants alleviate your allergies:
There are a few things you can do to help your houseplants improve your indoor air quality. Dust your houseplants regularly with mild soap and water, this allows them to remove toxins more efficiently. Vacuum regularly to keep dander, mold, and pollen at bay and you can even invest in a good air purifier to maximize results!
So, if you suffer from allergies, add one (or two, or three, or fifty) of these amazing houseplants to your home!
Keep in mind that there are plants that are great for improving indoor air quality but are still terrible for allergy sufferers as they have higher pollen counts. Plants you should avoid are:
Pollen-Free Plants For Allergies
This post was just a taste of what you could potentially uncover in Thomas Orgen’s book, The Allergy-Fighting Garden.
With so many new pollen-free plants to choose from, as well as clearly marked “worst offenders” to avoid, this is the ultimate resource for home gardeners and professionals alike who want to build healthy, safe, and beautiful gardens that everyone can enjoy!
A special thanks to Proven Winners for providing some of the photos for this article, showcasing gorgeous varieties of allergy-fighting plants.
Reprinted with permission from The Allergy-Fighting Garden by Thomas Leo Ogren, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography (c) 2015 by Tom Ogren.
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