Can Your Houseplants Make You Sick?

We all know that many houseplants are toxic, and you shouldn't be chewing on your philodendron, but I bet you don't think too much about the soil those plants are in.

That soil can harbor dangerous little spores that can spray into the air.

If you are allergic, these spores cause you to feel awful - irritable, brain foggy, tired, anxious, and can give you chronic sinus congestion and headaches.

So let's find out why the soil your plants live in matters (a lot) and what you can do to coexist.

Hanging green houseplants against a black background. Text overlay that says Can Your Houseplants Make You Sick?

Soil-Based Allergens

Many people assume that green plants (those with no flowers and no pollen) will automatically be allergy-safe indoor plants.

If your indoor environment doesn't get a lot of sunlight and is humid, these are perfect conditions for mold to grow.

You may even pull off a few mushrooms off the topsoil of your houseplants.

While these mushrooms are a sign of healthy soil and are (usually) not hurting your plants, they can be toxic if ingested by kids or pets and can give off spores which you can react to.

A lot of plants can also raise the humidity levels of your home to the point that it causes black mold to grow in places like your kitchen and bathroom.

Allergies Can Cause Severe Symptoms

Most people think of a runny nose and congestion when they think of allergies. Environmental allergies like mold can actually cause a wide range of symptoms like

  • Stomach Cramps

  • Brain Fog

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

  • Fatigue

  • Dizzyness

  • Migraines

  • Headaches

  • Tinnitus

  • Ear Congestion

If at any point your symptoms become severe or impair your breathing, see your doctor immediately.

What To Do

1. See If Your Houseplants Are To Blame

Examine the soil - see anything? Take off anything that is not supposed to be there, like mushrooms, or yellow or white powdery mildew.

Ensure that you have potting soil in your pots - not regular soil, this will ensure good drainage.

Examine the pots for signs of mold growth.

If you are sensitive to allergens, indoor terra cotta pots may not be the best choice for you because they pull moisture away from the soil and mold frequently grows on the outside of the pot.

2. Quarantine

Clean the leaves with a damp sponge to ensure your not reacting to something else (like dust) and put them outside on a porch.

Sunlight is a great way to help dry out and kill mold spores in soil.

If it's too cold out, put them all in one room and keep the door closed.

Be sure to vacuum and clean surfaces once the plants are removed.

Feel better? It may be your houseplants!

Scroll down to find out some tips to reduce allergens in your potting soil.