Is it true that people with cystic fibrosis are advised not to keep houseplants? I have heard that damp earth is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. What’s your opinion?
I do not discourage persons with cystic fibrosis from owning houseplants. Keep in mind that our environment is full of bacteria. Our skin and digestive tract are colonized by many types of bacteria too. Although most bacteria are harmless, some can be potentially dangerous. This is where our body’s defence mechanisms come into play to protect us. The bacteria found in plants and potting soil are no more threatening than those in our environment.
There is, however, a fairly high incidence of allergies among persons with cystic fibrosis, so there is a greater risk of allergic reactions to the plants. Although very few of them are allergenic, we know that certain types of shrubs, such as small maples, can produce allergenic pollen. Furthermore, potting soil sometimes harbours mites—tiny, highly allergenic parasites that are present in dust (carpets, bed linens), so we recommend that people who have allergies not keep plants in the bedroom.