Thanks to the advancements in energy-efficiency, homes have become more closed and airtight compared to older models built where clean air can freely flow within the home. This can be a problem for people who are sensitive to indoor pollutants, so expect more sneezing and watery eyes.
Luckily, there are plants available that can help relieve your allergies and clean the air from indoor pollutants.
In this article you will learn about the different plants that can help relieve allergies, what are the common causes of indoor allergies, symptoms of allergies, and basic treatment for indoor allergies.
If you suffer from chronic allergies and your goal is to rid your home of all triggers without spending as much, you can choose to purchase any one of these plants that can specifically eliminate the toxins in your home; Mums, Peace Lily, Golden Pothos, Philodendron, Gerbera Daisy, and more.
What Causes Indoor Allergies?
Before we can identify what plants can help relieve allergies, the first thing we must know is where do these allergens come from. Dozens of possible triggers may come from within your home and here are the most common indoor allergens plants can actually help eliminate:
Dust and Dust Mites
The most common cause of allergens would be household dust. Although to an average individual, this does not cause any immediate harm, it can be quite troublesome to those with sensitivity to dust.
Another name for this chemical is tetrachloroethylene, and this chemical is primarily used for cleaning fabrics, degreasing metals, polishing furniture, and other household cleaning products. There have been many noted adverse reactions with the exposure of this chemical, including cancer. If you are quite sensitive, you may develop a hypersensitivity reaction to the exposure of this chemical as well.
As we commonly know, formaldehyde is a major component of embalming fluid and would, therefore, rank as a hazardous chemical. However, this colorless yet strong-smelling gas is also part of dozens of household products. They are often used in building materials, adhesive, insulations, beddings, air fresheners, and even clothing.
The allergic reaction to formaldehyde highly depends on the level of exposure and only in excess would this be lethal. Otherwise, the regular allergic reaction is expected if consistently exposed to this type of allergen.
Classified as a hydrocarbon, this colorless liquid is an organic compound that is naturally produced by volcanoes. It is widely used in a lot of materials we commonly used day-to-day and may cause a hypersensitivity reaction to certain individuals.
Houseplants that Can Help Relieve Allergies and How to Care for Them
Allergies indoors are often caused by dozens of supposedly harmless things. If you have allergies, even if you are just inside your home, having houseplants can be quite helpful in clearing the air to relieve your allergies.
Back in 1989, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invested their time and effort to research plants that can clean the air. During this study, they were able to prove that some houseplants are efficient in removing certain chemicals and toxins from the air. Here are some of the plants on NASA’s list along with others that are equally effective as air purifiers.
Mums Chrysanthemum morifolium
These lovely blooms are a classy addition to any home. They are commonly grown outdoors, but with the right amount of light and water, they can be manageable indoors as well. Aside from being quite attractive, they are also known to help remove PCE from the air, which we know can be a source of allergies.
Another great thing about this plant is that it can be tricked to bloom all-year-round with the correct light manipulation. Growing them indoors can be a bit tricky, but with a little effort, it is definitely possible.
is a crucial part in caring for mums, in fact, it is the most crucial. It is
quite bushy, so it would be important to avoid getting the leaves wet when you
are watering them. Water the plants directly onto the soil to prevent fungal
infections occurring on the leaves.
plays a vital role in this plant’s growth. They grow best in full sunlight, but
they can thrive indoors as long as they are kept in a bright space.
- If your goal is to keep them blooming, fertilizers are important. In order for mums to perform well, they must be given liquid fertilizers every month. You may also add organic fertilizers to help.
quality of the soil is vital for all indoor plants. It must be light and
fast-draining. This way the water does not accumulate on the soil. Soggy soil
will cause root rot or fungal infections.
- Even if
mums are grown in subtropics, they thrive in a mild and cool climate. Keep them
away from excessive humidity. Ideally, they would grow well within 55 to 60
Peace Lily Spathiphyllum spp
One of the most popular houseplants is peace lilies. They are easy to grow, and their blossoms are quite beautiful too. These plants are of tropical origin but grow well indoors. They can also remove PCE from the air which would be great for people who are allergic to this chemical.
If you want to keep your peace lily growing optimally, the best thing you can do is mimic the conditions of its natural habitat.
- Well-draining potting soil is where you would want your plant lilies should be placed in. It is equally important to repot them annually, especially when it’s roots are starting to grow through the drain of its pot. By keeping the soil fresh, your plant will be encouraged to grow.
- Keeping the soil moist is the best way to keep your peace lily alive. Do not overwater it; it is very prone to root rot since they are rhizomes. Luckily, these plants can actually tolerate short periods of drought, but their leaves will brown if not watered appropriately. It is also important that room temperature filtered water is used. They are quite sensitive to fluoride that tap water may affect their foliage.
- These plants love humidity. If your home is dry, misting their leaves now and then would be very helpful. If you do not have the time to do so, you just need to set-up a tray with pebbles and water to increase the moisture in the space.
- Being tropical plants, they prefer warmer temperatures. Keeping them in temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit would be best. Keep them away from cold and drafty windows.
- Direct sunlight can burn their leaves. It would be better if you kept in a brightly lit room where they are exposed to the warmth of the morning sun but would be away from the intensity of the noontime heat.
Golden Pothos Epipremnum aureum
These plants are quite versatile and low maintenance. Their variegated leaves are quite attractive and make them pop-out. These plants naturally grow in temperate regions but can also grow in tropical countries too. They are quite resilient and tough. In addition to this, they have been proven to absorb formaldehyde in the air. Thus, lessening the exposure to the people of your home.
- The golden photos are very resilient and can tolerate low-lit spaces, but if possible, bright indirect light would be most ideal. If you do have the yellow variant, more light would be best.
- This plant should be in moist soil, but never in an overly watered one. These plants have a shallow root system which would mean that less watering is actually more beneficial than drowning them in water. Light watering is definitely the best.
- Fertilizers are not really a requirement, but if you decide to feed your plant it is important to balance it out. A 20-20-20 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium would be ideal, especially when the plant is outdoors.
- Pruning and trimming annually is necessary especially when they are kept in a pot. If you choose to hang them in a basket, they can grow longer.
Philodendron Philodendron bipinnatifidum
Like the golden pothos, the philodendron can also control the amount of formaldehyde in the air. These plants have been a consistent favorite of indoor gardeners because of how easy it is to care for. In fact, even the most inexperienced plant parents would be able to care for them with minimal effort.
Philodendrons are tropical in nature. They grow on the floor of rainforests, and would prefer shady spaces than full sunlight, but they can survive outdoor spaces as opposed to other houseplants.
- Being naturally from the tropics, this plant would do well in bright rooms with a lot of filtered light. Place them by the window. If your plant is not getting enough light, you will notice a leggy growth with long stems which is something you would like to avoid.
- Water your plant moderately. It would be ideal to allow the soil to dry out before adding more. The soil must be moist but never wet. To know when the plant is ready to be watered what you can do is touch the soil and when the top soil is dry to the touch, it would be good to water them.
- Feed your philodendron with a well-balanced liquid fertilizer that is specific with nutrients for foliage growth. This should be administered twice a year during the time of its active growth. Fertilizing your plant during its dormant phase will cause an accumulation of salt in the soil.
Gerbera Daisy Gerbera jamesonii
Most daisy variants would grow best outdoors, growing them inside would be quite tricky but not impossible to accomplish. The beauty of this plant lies within its long-lasting vibrant blooms. Given the right amount of basic care, you can definitely grow these lovely plants within your home.
One thing remarkable about this plant is its ability to absorb benzene from the atmosphere. As we know, some allergies can be triggered by benzene.
- The key to keeping these plants happy is bright light. Everything else would not be as important; thus it is vital that you place them in an area where they get at least 4 to 6 hours of bright light.
- Water your plant deeply whenever the topsoil is dry. Water directly onto the soil and avoid getting the foliage wet. During dormant seasons, reduce the amount of water and allow the soil to completely dry out before watering again.
- Monthly fertilizer feeding would be quite beneficial for these daisies. Use a regular fertilizer packed with flowering nutrients. Apply the fertilizer during springtime but do not feed the plant during winter.
- Once the blooms start to wilt it is important to pinch them off. Aside from keeping the plant neat looking, this would stimulate more blossoms to grow. Keeping wilted flowers would just signal the plant to send more nutrients to the dying flower, depriving the rest of the plant.
Areca Palm Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
The areca palm is efficient in increasing the humidity in the air. This really benefits people who are allergic to pollen and dust, since those allergens are more active in dry air. By keeping the humidity within the optimal range, you stay in a safe range. Too much moisture will cause molds and mildew, too little will promote easier spread of dust.
These big and bold palms are quite popular for interior spaces. They can be quite expensive to buy when they are fully grown, but you can start with table-top ones and grow them on your own.
- Care for this palm is not as tricky, but they will not tolerate neglect. In terms of watering, you would need to water them often and would need to keep their soil consistently moist during its active growth periods. Allow the plant to dry out between waterings during inactive growing phases.
should be done in the spring, and it would only need liquid houseplant
fertilizers with micronutrients. Avoid fertilizing your plant during the
- The key to
growing the areca palm is giving them the right amount of light. Full sunlight
would cause leaf burn, which is why it is important to keep them in a space
where they have access to indirect light, preferably near a south or
- Repotting would be necessary every 2 to 3 years. This is because they grow taller and have larger roots. Be sure not to plant them too deeply into the soil. Also, be extra cautious when replanting, the roots are quite brittle, spreading them out and handling the plant roughly would injure them.
Lady Palm Rhapis excelsa
Unlike most palms, this particular plant has a rather unique foliage pattern. It has tall fan-shaped leaves that make it look quite large and elegant. They are native to the tropics and can grow 6 to 12 feet in height when grown outdoors. Indoors conditions would be different, and they would not reach that high.
The lady palm is a versatile air purifier that can resist most pests and is quite resilient in any condition.
- Being accustomed to warm climates, it would be best to place your plant near an east window. This gives your plant at least 4 to 6 hours of indirect light, which would be ideal for foliage growth.
- Ideal temperatures would be in between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, since they thrive in comfortable ambient temperatures. Nothing too extreme.
- Water your palm only when the soil is dry. It is also important that you regulate your watering during dormant seasons since they do not absorb as much during this time. When your plant has gotten quite large, and too heavy carry. Place pebbles on the saucer of your pot to avoid the reabsorption of moisture that can make your plant’s soil soggy.
- Feeding your plant indoors would not be entirely necessary, but if you wish to do so, half-strength liquid fertilizer is the most ideal to use.
Bamboo Palm Chamaedorea seifrizii
There are about 107 species of palm, these plants are quite small compared to its larger cousins, but they are equally as gorgeous to have indoors. They can grow up to 3 to 5 feet in height when grown indoors. These palms bring a lot of warmth and color to your home, and they are equally as efficient in clearing the air of toxins that may cause allergic reactions.
Everything starts with the right soil. Choose a rich potting soil that is fast draining and airy. This way the moisture can be locked in, and the excess water can easily escape. Water your plant until the soil is evenly moist. Keeping them in a pool of water will cause root rot or fungal infection.
- During its active growth, it is important to use a time-release fertilizer to feed your plants. Avoid feeding your plant during winter or when it is inactive.
Female Dragon Draceana reflexa
If your allergies are triggered by dust, you will be glad to know that the draceana is great at trapping them in its leaves. Having these plants around can be quite efficient indoors.
Originally from Madagascar, these plants are quite used to subtropical climates. They come in different varieties with beautiful foliage patterns making them stand out in any space they are placed in.
indoor light would be the best for your dracaena. Placing them in direct
sunlight would burn the leaves of your plant. Keep them by the window with a
sheer curtain or in a brightly lit room.
the dracaena does not need that much water. You can keep them hydrated by
misting their leaves every now and then and by keeping their soil light moist.
This plant is very prone to root rot, avoid overwatering.
- The dracaena must be kept an ideal temperature of 65 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, but they can manage to survive in cooler nights, not below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Understanding the Symptoms of Allergies
It is important to know the correct symptoms of allergies and be able to differentiate them from signs of a cold. There are actually five common allergy symptoms, and these are quite easy to surface especially when your immune system is overly sensitive to otherwise harmless substances.
Any substance that triggers an allergic reaction is called an allergen. Upon contact with an allergen, your body releases histamine to protect yourself from the foreign object seemingly attacking you. Here are some symptoms of allergies:
- Runny Nose
Having a runny nose is one of the most common symptoms of allergy in children and adults alike. When the allergens enter your nose, the inner lining of your nostril will swell and this triggers the release of fluid from the small blood vessels in your nose. This fluid is clear and thin, as opposed to the fluid that comes out whenever we have a cold.
- What to do: To lessen the symptoms of a runny nose, it is important to keep hydrated.
When histamine is released due to the trigger of allergens your body reacts through swelling and itch within your throat and nose. Because of this irritation, your brain sends signals to your chest to contract, which causes you to sneeze in order to remove the irritants that have triggered the reaction.
- What to do: To avoid sneezing, it would be best to stay away from any triggers or allergens you are aware of. If inevitable, it would be best to wear a mask.
- Itchy and Watery Eyes
Most allergens are airborne, and the chances of them getting into direct contact with your eyes would not be unlikely. More than 80% of individuals with chronic allergies have itchy and watery eyes. This is a way for your eyes to expel the allergens that may have entered.
- What to do: If your eyes are already unbearably irritated, you can soothe it by washing your face. This helps your eyes cool down. Placing a cool washcloth on the top of your eyes can also help.
- Itchy Nose and Throat
The inner linings of your throat and nose, also known as membranes are quite sensitive to allergens. When you breathe in allergens, they can become irritated and swell up. An itchy nose and throat is also a reaction to histamine being released in your system.
- What to do: In itchy nose will eventually result in fluid production, whereas an itchy throat can be reduced by taking oral lozenges.
- Sinus Congestion
For people with chronic allergies that often include symptoms related to upper respiratory distress like sneezing, runny noses, and itchiness may cause your sinus to become blocked due to the swelling. The discomfort would manifest on the face, especially under the eyes. It would be very difficult to breathe once this has started.
- What to do: Allergies that present in this manner would have to be resolved with the use of decongestants.
By knowing the causes of your allergies and having plants that can specifically help out with reducing the allergen that triggers it would definitely make a huge difference in the way you live. A little touch of nature would be great for any home, having plants to care for can be therapeutic and resolve your allergies too.