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House Plants/allergy to "umbrella plant" schefflera (?)

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Question
Hello,

Are Umbrella plants highly allergenic, or could I have a mold in the soil? I have a large umbrella plant that I have owned for many years in my living room. I live in a 900 sq ft condo.  My boyfriend is allergic to many things and gets very stuffed up when he is at my house.  He is worse in the living room.  I think he started feeling bad when i moved the plant inside in late fall.   
Do you have any suggestions to determining whether this is the cause (as he is allergic to many things including dust) or if there is something I could do to the plant? I hate to get rid of itů.  
Thanks, Liz

Answer
Elizabeth,

I have never heard of anyone with an allergy to a schefflera plant. it would be more likely that he is allergic to a mold that is in the soil. To get rid of mold you must let the plant dry out thoroughly and be dry for 2-3 days before you water it again. This is a plant that can stand to dry out. Never let it stand with water in the drain tray. An hour after you water it empty the drain tray by dumping it out or by suctioning it out with a turkey baster.

If you want to quickly find out if the plant or the mold is the problem ask a friend to keep the plant for you for a week. If you cannot ask a friend you may be able to call some greenhouses in the area and ask them what they would charge to keep the plant for a week after explaining the situation.

You can also spray the air in the room the plant is in to kill any possible mold spores in the air. If you can't remove the plant also spray the surface of the soil. As the temps warm up you can spray the room with Lysol then open the windows for a bit to air out the Lysol. I am also allergic to a lot of the world but I am not an allergist. An allergist would probably tell you to throw out the plant. I would try these things first. Good luck!


Darlene

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Darlene K. Kittle

Expertise

I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.

Experience

I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Organizations
Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

Education/Credentials
I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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