If you’re living in Phoenix, you could be one of the more than 30% of our population who struggles with springtime allergies, and you might understandably look to avoid coming into contact with as many plants as you can. But did you know that some plants can actually help combat springtime allergies? We know it may sound contradictory, but many of our leafy green friends can help reduce your sniffling and sneezing during allergy season. Here, we’re breaking down all the info you need on which plants might just provide you some relief.
Where Do Allergies Come from?
When we’re in the same place for a long period of time, like our offices or homes, we want to be breathing in fresh, clean air. For those who have allergies and asthma, sometimes the air they breathe can have negative effects on their health. Allergies are caused by pollutants in the air like mold, dust particles and dust mites, pet hair, pollen, paint, or plastics. These varieties of pollutants in our air can aggravate allergy symptoms, causing sneezing, sniffling and trouble breathing.
How Can Plants Help to Combat Them?
Plants have the ability to reduce carbon monoxide and other toxins in an area, as well as regulate the humidity levels of your space, which in turn reduces the chances of mold growth. They can also remove irritants like formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene that can appear in your home through things like paint, smoke, plastics, and other household items. These toxins can cause side effects in us like an irritated and runny nose, difficulty breathing, tightness of the chest and itchy rashes.
A NASA Clean Air Study from 1989 tested 19 different species of plants to see if they could clean the air effectively. The study found that in just 24 hours, almost 87% of the formaldehyde, benzene, and trichloroethylene were removed from the air by the leaves and roots of the plants, and oxygen was returned to the room. As this study was completed in a small, controlled environment, we must apply logic to everyday circumstances and understand that for larger spaces, a larger number of plants would be needed to clean the air to this standard. While it would be difficult to completely rid your space of negative airborne particles and toxins, there are certainly a few that can improve your indoor air quality within reason.
What Specific Plants Help?
To help with this task, you’ll want to start by incorporating plants with smooth, glossy leaves into your indoor plant design. These kinds of leaves are key for easy cleaning, and they won’t trap any allergen particles that might be floating around.
Certain plants have even been found to absorb mold spores and other pollutants, making biophilic design in your office or home not only aesthetically pleasing, but beneficial to your health, as well.
Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
Not only does this beautiful palm plant spruce up any interior space, but it also acts as a natural humidifier by releasing lots of moisture into the air. Breathing dry air can lead to itching, skin irritation and a sore throat. If your asthma is exacerbated by dry air from air conditioners in spaces like office buildings, the Areca Palm is the perfect humidifying plant to ease the effects of dry air.
English ivy (Hedera helix)
A study from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that airborne mold spores have been linked to a variety of serious illnesses and that English ivy can potentially reduce indoor mold counts. Commonly found outdoors, this climbing vine plant can do wonders inside your office or home. English ivy can substantially reduce the amount of mold in the air and help you breathe easier, especially if you have allergies.
Corn Plant (Dracaena massangeana)
This popular, upright indoor plant is effective at removing allergens and toxins that intensify allergies from indoor air. It’s one of the best varieties for allergy sufferers and can actually pull allergens out of the air and store them in its leaves. Dracaena massangeana is one of the most efficient plants at removing formaldehyde from the air in your home, as well as other pollutants like benzene, trichloroethylene and xylene. Varieties like Warneckei and Janet Craig have been rated the highest in removing pollutants from the air.
The presence of nature in an indoor space is not only beneficial to our mental well-being, but also for our physical health. Our horticultural experts at Plant Solutions can provide you with the best plan to incorporate indoor plants into your space, whatever your goals may be. Whether you’re looking to potentially reduce your spring allergy symptoms or simply brighten up your space, we’ll take care of the planning, installation, and maintenance to make sure your plants are properly cared for. For more information on our indoor plant services including plants for purchase or long-term rental, click here.