If you have asthma or allergies, the good news is that there is a simple and economical solution to enhance the air quality in your home – growing plants.
They’re not only attractive to look at and useful for decorating your interior spaces, but they also work hard to purify the air and replenish lost humidity. We asked our garden experts for suggestions, and some of them are:
- Peace Lily
- Spider plants
- English Ivy
Jeremy Starke from Green Thumb Gardener.
Peace lilies have become the most popular plants for their ease of care and ability to thrive as a ground cover around your home, particularly in areas where the grass is difficult to grow. They require only a tiny amount of light and water to thrive.
These would be perfect for your housing aesthetic as well if you’re into minimalist preference. So, get these without hesitation even if someone in your home has asthma, there should be no issues whatsoever.
With this plant, you do not need to worry about pollen, leading to allergic reactions, hence triggering asthma.
Aviva Samuels from Soul ‘n Vine
Mold isn’t just unsafe for an asthmatic. It’s highly dangerous for everyone. English Ivy has a notable effect on mold, amongst other allergens.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, English Ivy, a climbing vine that is most commonly found outside, can also substantially reduce the amount of mold you breathe in the air inside your home.
Like other plants, English Ivy takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, which improves air quality. However, it also absorbs, deteriorates, and then detoxifies matter in the atmosphere.
But what English Ivy is also known for is altering the composition of mold and bacteria, clearing the microorganisms that worsen asthma from the air so you won’t inhale them.
Merely choosing English Ivy for asthma relief is not enough. It’s essential to grow the plant properly.
When grown inconsistent temperatures and keeping the indoor plants cool at night, it will less likely lead to decay. However, if it develops disease-like growths or starts to rot, you could worsen your asthma due to inhaling the mold spores and small particles.
English Ivy requires low-light conditions to thrive and needs to be watered generously. Be careful to keep children and pets away from these plants since ingestion will likely cause mild symptoms such as diarrhea, upset stomach, and dilated pupils.
Seek medical attention immediately for these and more severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing, fever, or lack of coordination, as these could lead to coma or death.
And it’s also important to note that while it may help reduce mold spores in the air, it shouldn’t be used as a complete replacement for a quality air purifier.
John La Puma from EcoMedicine
Many people will be disappointed to learn that plants indoors do not clean the air (unless there is one every square foot) enough to make a difference because houses are not sealed. Nearly all the research was done in sealed chambers, not living quarters.
But some plants are better for asthma than others in that they do not produce allergens, such as pollen, and some plants can store toxins in the soil, which can be aerosolized, in their tissues.
Though most plants are male and female, female plants are better for asthma: they store pollen instead of producing it, as male plants do. If a plant produces visible pollen, it’s not good for reactive airways.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the following plants are considered asthma-friendly:
Henry Harrison from BlueBiology
There are about 391,000 plant species. Some have been shown to host negative effects on asthma, while others have been shown to help positively.
Certain species such as Devil’s Ivy, Flamingo Lily, and Spider plants have all been shown to alleviate asthma symptoms by improving air quality. Studies have also shown them to help rid the air of its toxins and boost oxygen levels in the air.
Certain species such as Ryegrass, Pellitory weed (asthma weed) have been shown to carry pollen that triggers asthma, so be sure to avoid these species, even if they are kept outside. Pollen can become airborne, and even the smallest amount can cause an adverse reaction.
Even the beneficial asthma species can cause or trigger asthma if not cared for accordingly. For example, if you were to overwater these plants, you would be at risk of colonizing mold, one of the most common asthma triggers.
A common sign your plant needs watering is that it’s beginning to droop. This is the plant telling you that it’s thirsty. It’s recommended that you only water these species once a week and spritz the leaves throughout the summer to ensure the plant is hydrated.
It’s also recommended to check the soil before watering. If the soil is still wet or moist, you should hold off on the watering for another day or until the soil is dry.
Avoid and consider any injury to the plant. Plants can heal; however, some damage is enough to kill the plant. When this occurs, the plant is no longer about to recognize bacteria or prevent them.
This results in the plant becoming molded or infected. It now belongs in the trash outside to prevent any mold spores from becoming airborne.
Greg Birch from Gardens of Bacchus
Most people are probably thinking of indoor plants when thinking of plants that will help with asthma.
Plant foliage is adept at catching these pollutants before they blow into your yard. It’s similar to pouring water through a charcoal filter. Plus, plants also put out clean oxygen. Therefore, they can help make your home a safe place for people with asthma.
I generally recommend plants with really thick foliage, such as Junipers, Hollies, or Arborvitae. The trick with getting these plants to thrive in your landscape is to plant them in full sun and get them started on the right foot.
They need to be planted in soil with good drainage and also watered regularly, about 2-3 times per week for the first growing season. This will encourage them to grow deep roots to help ensure future success while also keeping them from experiencing root rot from overwatering.
After the first growing season, you’ll generally only need to water them during extended bouts of dry weather.
Plants can help to purify the air indoors as well. Pothos, Boston Ferns, Snake plants, Areca Palms, and Ficus plants are too. Again, it’s a good choice.
One plant per 100 square feet is a good rule of thumb for getting optimal purification. If you don’t have a lot of indoor light, go for Pothos or Snake plants. If you have pets that chew on plants, consider the Areca Palm or Boston Fern.
Most of the plants I mentioned above are susceptible to overwatering and prefer to dry out between waterings. Resist the urge to water them too frequently; it’s one of the easiest ways to kill a plant.
The only exception is the Boston Fern, and they prefer to have consistently moist soil.
If you or a member of your family has asthma, it’s critical to maintain your indoor air as clean as possible of allergens and pollutants. Although house plants can help to improve the air quality in your home, they should not be relied on primarily to alleviate asthma symptoms.
You should always discuss with your doctor before making any lifestyle changes and take your medicine as instructed.
Good luck and see you in our next article!