Which indoor plants to avoid if you suffer from hay fever

Which indoor plants to avoid if you suffer from hay fever

BY Max Kirsten

17th Apr 2024 Wellbeing

3 min read

Max Kirsten, Sleep Expert for Panda London, advises on the indoor plants to avoid if you have hay fever and why it's so important to remove them from your home
As a sleep expert, I understand the importance of creating a conducive environment for quality sleep, especially for individuals suffering from seasonal hay fever. When it comes to indoor plants, there are certain varieties that can exacerbate hay fever symptoms due to their pollen production and allergenic properties.
The worst indoor plants for individuals with seasonal hay fever include:

Ragweed (Ambrosia)

This is a notorious culprit for triggering allergies, particularly during the late summer and early autumn months when its pollen counts are at their peak. For allergy sufferers, exposure to ragweed pollen can wreak havoc on sleep patterns. Ragweed pollen is incredibly light and can travel long distances through the air, infiltrating indoor spaces even with closed windows.
"A notorious culprit for triggering allergies during late summer when its pollen counts are at their peak"
When inhaled, ragweed pollen can irritate the nasal passages and throat, leading to congestion, sneezing, and itching. These symptoms can make it difficult for individuals to breathe properly, leading to disrupted sleep patterns characterised by frequent awakenings and overall poor sleep quality. Furthermore, ragweed pollen can exacerbate conditions like asthma, further complicating sleep for those affected.

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

English Ivy
A popular ornamental plant known for its ability to climb and cover structures, but it can pose problems for allergy sufferers, particularly when grown indoors. English Ivy produces allergenic proteins that can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
When kept indoors, English Ivy can accumulate dust and mould on its leaves, exacerbating allergic symptoms. For allergy sufferers, exposure to English Ivy can lead to nasal congestion, sneezing and itchy eyes, all of which can interfere with sleep. Additionally, the presence of mould spores on the plant can worsen respiratory symptoms and contribute to sleep disturbances, as individuals may experience difficulty breathing comfortably during the night.

Ficus (Ficus benjamina)

Commonly known as the weeping fig, it's a popular indoor plant prized for its lush foliage and air-purifying properties. However, for individuals with allergies, the presence of Ficus plants in the home can be problematic, especially when it comes to sleep. Ficus plants produce latex sap that contains allergenic proteins capable of triggering allergic reactions in susceptible people.
"Ficus plants produce latex sap that contains allergenic proteins, often triggering allergic reactions"
Exposure to Ficus sap can lead to symptoms such as skin irritation, nasal congestion, and respiratory issues, all of which can interfere with sleep quality. Furthermore, Ficus plants are known to attract dust and mites, which can further exacerbate allergic symptoms and disrupt sleep patterns. For allergy sufferers, minimising exposure to Ficus plants indoors may be necessary to ensure a restful night's sleep.

Why you need to remove these indoor plants from your home

Woman in bed blowing nose suffering from hay fever
Removing high-pollen plants from the bedroom during hay fever season is crucial for individuals suffering from allergies for several reasons:
Minimise exposure: The bedroom is where people spend a significant amount of time, especially during sleep. Removing high-pollen plants reduces the exposure to allergens, minimising the risk of allergic reactions during the night and promoting better sleep quality.
"By eliminating sources of pollen in the bedroom, individuals can enjoy a more restorative sleep"
Reduce symptoms: Hay fever symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and itchy eyes can be particularly bothersome during sleep, disrupting restful sleep patterns. By eliminating sources of pollen in the bedroom, individuals can experience fewer symptoms and enjoy a more restorative sleep.
Enhance air quality: While plants contribute to air purification, certain varieties can also release allergens such as pollen into the air. Removing high-pollen plants from the bedroom helps maintain better indoor air quality, reducing the potential for allergic reactions and respiratory discomfort during sleep.
Create a safe haven: The bedroom should ideally serve as a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation. Removing allergenic plants creates a safe haven free from potential triggers, allowing individuals with hay fever to unwind and enjoy a peaceful sleep environment without the worry of exacerbating their allergy symptoms.

Additional tips to keep your home free from pollen and reduce hay fever symptoms

Close windows and doors: Keep windows and doors closed during high pollen seasons to prevent pollen from entering your home.
Use allergen-proof bedding: Encase mattresses, pillows, and bedding in allergen-proof covers to minimise exposure to pollen while sleeping.
Clean regularly: Vacuum carpets, rugs, and upholstery frequently using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter to trap pollen and other allergens.
Limit outdoor exposure: When spending time outdoors during high pollen seasons, wear a pollen mask and shower and change clothes upon returning home to prevent bringing pollen indoors.
Banner: Ficus is one of the indoor house plants to avoid if you suffer from hay fever. Credit: Feey
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter