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Allergy Friendly Living Wall Plants to Keep Employees Happy

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Workspaces that incorporate biophilic elements, such as living walls, don’t just look stunning. They also offer numerous benefits to those who work there, including better air quality, reduced levels of sickness, increased productivity, and more. Despite this, however, a living walls could leave one specific group of employees feeling anxious. We’re talking about allergy sufferers; specifically, those with plant-related allergies.

Thankfully, this guide will explain how you can consider common allergens when incorporating living walls into your workplace. Plus, we’ll give you the rundown on what plants you should include, and avoid, to keep employee allergies at bay.

What is a Plant Allergy?

When a person has a plant allergy, also referred to as hay fever or allergic rhinitis, they are susceptible to an allergic reaction when they inhale or come into contact with certain plant allergens. Some of the common symptoms a plant allergy may cause include:

  • Red, itchy, and/or watery eyes

  • Puffiness underneath the eyes

  • Sneezing

  • Itchy skin

  • Eczema

  • Runny nose

  • Congestion

  • Hives

  • Tiredness

  • Skin lesions

  • Contact dermatitis

Although not technically a plant allergy, a person may also suffer from an allergy to the mold living within a plant’s soil. These allergens can also cause many of the same symptoms listed above.

What Employers Can Do to Combat Plant Allergies

Before you incorporate living walls into your workspace, you’ll first want to find out if any employees have a plant allergy. This will allow you to avoid any of their specific triggers, thus creating a more natural and beautiful environment that everyone can enjoy.

To do this, ask your employees to complete a questionnaire about any potential allergies they may have in relation to plants. Be sure to gauge what reactions these plants can cause them too, as plant allergy side effects can range from mild (such as a slight sniffle) to severe (such as swelling or hives). While you don’t want your office greenery to cause employees any discomfort, it is vital to be aware of these more serious side effects, as they would particularly be cause for alarm.

Plants to Avoid

As an employer looking to incorporate more plants into your office, you can also take important precautions by avoiding certain plants altogether. This list of plants are known to affect people susceptible to plant allergies:

  • Bonsai (especially juniper and cedar varieties)

  • Weeping Fig

  • Yuccas

  • Fern

  • African Violet

  • Roses

  • Orchids

  • Stephanotis

  • Male palms

  • Daffodils

  • Spider Plants

  • Ficus

  • Daisies

  • Jasmine Vine

  • Chamomile

  • Wisteria

There are also some readily available plants that are known to be very toxic to humans and animals. These can present a severe hazard in a workspace, particularly if it is one frequented by small children or pets, and therefore should be avoided:

  • Oleander

  • Belladonna (or Deadly Nightshade)

  • Dumb cane

  • Sago palm

  • ZZ plant

Plants Safe for Allergy Sufferers

Thankfully, not all plants are harmful to those with a plant allergy. There are numerous hypoallergenic plants available, meaning they produce less pollen and can even help to clear the air of other harmful or triggering allergens, making them perfect for incorporating into your office’s biophilic design.

The following plants are recommended by NASA after conducting a Clean Air Study to determine which plants are most beneficial in indoor environments: