Indoor Trees that Trigger Allergies
With spring underway allergies are on many people’s mind. According to WebMD one in every five people in the United States suffers from allergies. Clients and potential clients may have concerns when it comes to allergies and interior landscaping. Knowing what trees to avoid and how to maintain plants to reduce any indoor allergens will help your clients feel confident about their indoor plants.
When it comes to indoor allergies there is good news and bad news for interior landscapers. The good news is that most plant allergens are caused by particles of pollen catching the wind and are consequently inhaled. Plants that produce this type of pollen are typically trees and grasses.
Most indoor plants bear flowers and are pollenated by bees and other insects or are very leafy with insignificant flowers. This means the pollen does not float through the air and trigger allergies.
There are however, a few plants you should avoid if your clients are concerned about indoor allergies.
The flowering maple, used to be very popular in indoor settings. However, it has fallen out of style and is not used as often as it once was. It has no relation to true maple trees and is called a maple because the shape of the leaves resemble true maple leaves. This plant is a shrub that can grow tall and lanky and produces numerous, beautiful flowers. It is a relative of okra, hollyhocks and cotton.
Flowering maple can cause minor skin irritation in most people when handled. A few people may have a specific sensitivity to the plant and can experience a more severe outbreak. Flowering maple can also trigger respiratory allergy symptoms. If your clients have any concern about allergies, avoid using this plant.
Weeping fig trees or Ficus benjamina are a very common indoor plant. They are often used because they are easy to care for and have beautiful form and shape. Unfortunately particles from the leaves, trunk and especially sap of the plant can cause a reaction similar to a latex allergy. People exposed to the particles can experience a range of symptoms from minor skin irritation to respiratory problems. People with asthma and other lung ailments are especially susceptible to weeping fig allergies. Allergies can also be acquired over time due to prolonged exposure to the plant. This puts those who maintain the plants at a particular risk for developing and allergy to them.
Never keep a weeping fig tree in a small enclosed space and if there are any concerns regarding someone’s sensitivity to the plant simply remove the plants from that environment. You may also want to take extra care if there will be children and pets present in the same in environment. Children and pets are more likely to put plants parts in their mouths causing a more severe allergic reaction.
The Bad News
So, the good news is there are only two indoor trees you really need to avoid to minimize exposure to potential allergens. The bad news is that dust and mold harbored in indoor plants and their containers can also trigger allergies. To avoid causing itchy eyes and stuffy noses, be sure to dust your indoor plant installations regularly. You can use a soft cloth, or feather duster to gently remove dust from broad leaf plants. Thinner more delicate leaves can be misted with water.
Prevent mold by using plastic or ceramic containers rather than baskets or wood. Don’t allow water to sit in the containers or stand in saucers underneath containers. Clean top dressing regularly or replace old top dressing. Alternatively you can use faux rocks made from plastic that will prevent mold from developing.
A little extra care can prevent any problems with allergies. Share with your clients how the benefits of indoor plants outweigh any risk of problems due to allergies. Indoor plants do a lot to enhance office, commercial and public spaces. Don’t let fears of allergies hinder your potential clients. How do you prevent exposure to potential allergens in your client’s spaces?
“Allergies Health Center.” WebMD. <http://www.webmd.com/allergies/allergy-statistics>.
“The Flowering Maple and Its Virus.” UCC Biology Department. <http://faculty.ucc.edu/biology-ombrello/pow/flowering_maple.htm>
“Allergens from the weeping fig tree.” eHow. <http://www.ehow.com/info_10070697_allergens-weeping-fig-tree.html>
“How to Stop Allergies at Home.” Health. <http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307345_9,00.html>
“Indoor Allergens” MedicineNet. <http://www.medicinenet.com/indoor_allergens/page5.htm>