8 Houseplants to Avoid if You Have Allergies

woman sneezing with a plant in the background

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Learn which indoor plants are capable of causing allergic reactions.

Houseplants are a small miracle. They bring a bit of nature inside and offer tremendous benefits for mind and body, from helping to relieve stress to actually cleaning pollutants from the air. All the while, looking lovely along the way.

Yet for all of the earnest good they do, some of them do not get along with everyone's immune systems. There are many plant allergens – and while we usually associate the flora of the great outdoors with causing allergic rhinitis or hay fever, our indoor friends can be guilty as well. While indoor plants will likely not cause as much grief for allergy sufferers as their outdoor kin, here are a few known to cause allergies for a variety of reasons.

1. Orchids

While they may look aloof and demure, for some people, orchids can cause skin reactions when directly touched; and in the worst cases, may lead to swollen eyes and mouth or even anaphylactic shock.

2. African violets

If dust is your kryptonite, beautiful African violets may vex you for their fuzzy, dust-magnet leaves.

3. Palms

In general, palms should be OK. But male palms can spew out the pollen, making them potentially troublesome for anyone sensitive to such. The easy fix? Make sure you get a female palm.

4. Ficus

The ever popular ficus was one of the plants found to most frequently cause reactions during a skin prick test for pollen allergens in a Belgian study, in which the authors concluded "in allergic rhinitis, indoor plants should be considered as potential allergens."

5. & 6. Yucca and ivy

Yucca and ivy pollens were also among the plants found to cause reactions in the Belgian study mentioned above.

7. Bonsai trees

When studying the case of a man who was having mysterious allergy symptoms, researchers found out he was allergic to birch – which didn't explain his symptoms during off-season and while indoors. Until they realized he had birch bonsai in his home. The researchers concluded, "We believe that this case is of interest because pollinosis caused by ornamental trees may be difficult to diagnose, and because they are kept in a different environment, their pollinosis period can be different from that of other trees."

8. Anything over watered

One of the worst things you can do to your houseplants is to give them too much water. It can lead to fungus and mold in the soil, which is bad for the plant, but also bad for those with asthma or sensitivity to either of the two.