Top 10 Houseplants for People With Allergies

by Kathi MacNaughton Health Professional

Do you have nasal allergies (also known as hay fever)? And do you also love having green, growing things in your house year round? If so, you may be wondering which houseplants are most "safe" for people allergic to airborne allergens, such as pollen and mold, to have.

The good news is people with allergies can have houseplants -- provided you use caution and commonsense. Here are some houseplants that produce very low levels of pollen, making them fairly unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction:

  • Begonia

  • Croton

  • Miniature rose

  • Nasturtium

  • Parsley

  • Passionflower (pictured above)

  • Peace lily

  • Peperomia

  • Swedish ivy

  • Thyme

One houseplant you should never have if you are allergic to latex (commonly found in examination gloves, balloons, and rubber bands) is a fig tree. Apparently, they exude a substance containing latex on the undersides of their leaves. Yucca and palm may also be risky choices for people with allergies.

No matter what variety of houseplant you ultimately choose, there are 2 additional risks that you must be aware of if you are allergic to either dust or mold.

  • Dust mites may congregate on the leaves of houseplants. How many times do we get a lovely plant and then let it sit on a shelf by itself, with just the occasional watering? If that sounds like you, then be aware that dust has probably collected on the leaves and even the stems of your plant. So, it's a good idea to wipe the leaves off with a damp cloth on a regular basis to reduce your dust exposure. And maybe avoid plants with fuzzy leaves that can collect dust easier, such as African violets.

  • Houseplants also present the perfect environment for mold. In addition, the damp, dark soil and organic matter present around houseplants is exactly the type of place mold spores love to grow in. The best way to avoid this is to water only when the soil is dry and even then only enough to moisten it. If you re-pot a plant, use fresh, sterile potting soil.

Some reports claim that houseplants can even make your air "better", but I'm not sure I buy into that. Sure, plants release oxygen into the atmosphere, but do they really absorb allergens as some natural healing pundits claim? I'm not so sure.

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Kathi  MacNaughton
Meet Our Writer
Kathi MacNaughton

Kathi is an experienced consumer health education writer, with a prior career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years — much of it in the field of home health care. Over the past 15 years, she's been an avid contributor for a number of consumer health websites, specializing in asthma, allergy, and COPD. She writes not only as a healthcare professional, but also as a lifelong sufferer of severe allergies and mild asthma, and as a caregiver for her mother with COPD.