You may pride yourself on your green thumb, but if you find that your houseplants make your eyes and nose itch and turn red, you just may be allergic to them. The fact is that the soil contained in the plant pots can actually be a breeding ground for moisture and mold, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Mold is a common allergen, affecting as many as 10 million Americans today (or a quarter or the people who suffer from allergies), reports the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

A Culprit That Won't Quit

There are numerous forms of mold that exist today and not all of them are likely to make you sick. But the most aggressive culprits work by becoming airborne and causing allergy or hay fever symptoms that can range in severity from minor inconveniences to much more serious health risks, including:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, irritated eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Trouble catching your breath
  • Asthma symptoms

Minimizing Your Risk

If you have a mold allergy yet can't bear to part with your favorite plants, there are some easy steps you can try first to help you to minimize the formation of mold and hopefully keep your symptoms in check:

  • Look for plants with low pollen counts, such as miniature roses, begonias, nasturtium and Swedish Ivy.
  • Repot the plant using fresh, sterile soil.
  • Cover the soil with small pebbles in order to prevent the mold spores from escaping into the air.
  • Clean the leaves with a damp cloth regularly to discourage dust mites from settling there.
  • Water the plant only when the soil is dry.
  • Place the pot in the path of direct sunlight.
  • Use a fan to move the air near the plant and prevent excessive moisture.
  • Remove dead leaves to help stop mold from forming.
  • Be vigilant with these steps to minimize mold so you can keep feeling your best.

Trial and Error

If none of these approaches are effective for relieving your symptoms, try relocating your plants with a neighbor or family to see if your allergy symptoms get better. If so, then you might have to resign yourself to enjoying its beauty from a distance. But understand that this does not mean you have to give up completely on having a plant in your own setting. You can always consider getting a cactus instead, which requires very dry soil and therefore, carries a much lower allergy risk.