The Best (and Worst) Houseplants for People With Allergies

The Best (and Worst) Houseplants for People With Allergies
Photo: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

If you’re one of the many people living with allergic rhinitis — also known as “hay fever” — you probably want to do whatever you can to avoid the sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, headaches, and other annoying and disruptive symptoms the condition causes.

And while you may take all the necessary precautions outdoors, you may end up letting your guard down when you’re indoors — including when it comes to your houseplants. But having allergies doesn’t mean you have to make the switch to faux foliage. Here are some of the best — and worst — houseplants for people with allergies.

The best houseplants for people with allergies

Many of the articles and lists of the best plants for people with allergies centre on the now-debunked claim that some houseplants can serve as effective air filters, removing toxins, pollutants, and other allergens from our homes. Our picks, however, are based on the amount of pollen the plants produce and release into the environment, which can trigger allergic rhinitis. A few examples include:

  • Areca palm
  • Succulents (including aloe vera)
  • Snake plant
  • Devil’s ivy
  • Dragon tree (dracaena marginata)
  • Swedish ivy
  • Dracaena Janet Craig
  • Rubber tree
  • Broadleaf lady palm

The worst houseplants for people with allergies

Here are some examples of houseplants that people with allergies should avoid, either because of the substantial amounts of pollen and/or skin-irritating sap they produce:

  • Bonsai trees
  • Orchids
  • Weeping figs
  • Ferns
  • Male palms and yuccas
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Marigold
  • Chamomile
  • Hyacinth
  • Anthurium
  • Dieffenbachia
  • English Ivy
  • Schefflera
  • Spathiphyllum

Dust and mould allergies

Sometimes houseplants may appear to trigger dust and mould allergies, but in many cases, it’s not necessarily the plant itself, but rather, how you’re caring for it that’s the problem. For example, like everything else in your home, houseplants can accumulate dust over time, so be sure to dust them off on a regular basis. This is especially important if your plant has fuzzy leaves, like the African violet, which easily trap and collect dust.

Similarly, if a plant’s pot doesn’t provide adequate drainage, it may result in root rot and moldy soil, triggering symptoms in people with mould allergies. In other words, in addition to picking the right types of plants, it’s also important to make sure you’re caring for them properly — especially if you have allergies.

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