Indoor Allergen Friendly Plants
Janelle Rietz-Kamenar, Master Gardener
Did you know that Americans spend roughly 90% of their time, on average, indoors according to US EPA report? As a gardener, perhaps it’s time we focus on our indoor space and the benefits and types of plants we could have indoors. Click on this link to learn more about Indoor Allergen Friendly Plants.
Did you know that Americans spend roughly 90% of their time, on average, indoors according to US EPA report? As a gardener, perhaps it’s time we focus on our indoor space and the benefits and types of plants we could have indoors. Read on to learn more about Indoor Allergen Friendly Plants.
I thought this article would be simple to write, but as it turns out, it is a much more complicated topic than I thought. Many gardeners understand the psychological benefits of having living plants around us. According to the American Horticultural Society, indoor plants can improve air quality through air purification, reduce stress, improve productivity, and bring beauty to your home. However, some people who have asthma or other lung conditions need to choose what type of plant, if any, is best for them.
If you are concerned about allergens in your home, potted plants can be a challenge as the soil, if not properly watered, can create mold. Mold is created in soil from overwatering with limited air circulation and not enough sunlight. The Mayo Clinic suggested that if you do have potted plants in your home, you can put aquarium gravel over the dirt to contain any mold that could develop. Removing dust from your plants periodically also helps with allergies.
Flowering plants can also be a challenge for people with airborne allergens. In my research I discovered the Ogren Plant Allergy Scale System (OPALS). It is a standard which considers the likelihood a plant will cause pollen allergy symptoms. Plants are ranked on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most allergenic. This system can be used for trees, shrubs, and other plants (indoors and outdoors).
While researching, I did discover that there were many lists to cross reference and it was confusing as some of the lists said they were allergen friendly and other lists said they were not. So, I am including some of the most common plants that showed up on multiple lists realizing that this is a limited list. There are some colorful plants that produce pollens which are heavier and stickier. These plants will be less likely to cause irritants. Another suggestion is to consider cross referencing this list with a plant list that can cause skin rash sensitivities or are harmful to pets.
Snake Plant (also called Mother-In-Law Tongue)
Dragon Tree (also called Marginata)
Aloe Vera and other Succulents
String of Pearls
So, if you have been avoiding houseplants because of concern about allergies, know that there are houseplants out there that can provide the greenery, color and other benefits of houseplants this winter.
“Healthy Living: How a Lab Founded with Mayo Clinic is Fine-tuning the Indoors”. By Liv Martin, September 13, 2021; Minnesota Monthly.
https://ahsgardening.org “The Joys and Benefits of Indoor Gardening”
Mayo Clinic website: “Allergy-proof your home” By Mayo Clinic Staff
House Digest, “15 Best Houseplants for People with Allergies” by Kailen Skewis, October 16, 2022
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “Smart Gardening: Tips for an Allergy-Friendly Garden”, AAFA Community Services, 4/18/18
Good Housekeeping, “10 Best Indoor Plants for your Health According to Research”, by Erica Sweeney, Juley 29, 2022
Https://flonase.com/allergies, “Best and Worst Indoor Plants for Allergies”
Photo Credit: Commons.wikimedia.org-Creative Commons (1), Gardening.stackexchange.com-Creative Commons (2), www.flickr.com-Creative Commons (3)