Gardening with Pollen Allergies: Which Allergy-Friendly Plants Are There?
Pollen is a fine yellow powdery substance that is made of tiny pollen grains used by plant for fertilization purposes. There are various ways in which pollen can be transported from plant to plant, for example, by the wind, by insects, birds or other animals. In spring, summer or fall, during the season of massive pollen production, many people with seasonal allergies suffer from the annoying symptoms.
Millions of Americans (about 7-8 percent of the population) have are allergic to pollen. Depending on the time of the year, geographical location and the type of climate, pollen allergies can be triggered by pollen from trees, grass and weed.
What Are the Symptoms of Pollen Allergy?
People with pollen allergies develop a reaction whenever they are exposed to the trigger. The symptoms of such a reaction usually include: stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, itchy throat, and wheezing.
Besides, if you have asthma, pollen can worsen your symptoms too, making your cough and wheeze more.
What Is a Pollen Count?
Pollen count indicates how high the concentration of pollen in the air is. While checking the predicted pollen counts may be helpful, especially if you are planning to spend a long time outdoors, these counts don’t always tell the full story.
Thus, a newspaper or a weather application on your smartphone may predict a high pollen count, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your symptoms will get worse. Since there are many different types of pollen coming from a whole variety of trees, grasses and weeds, an overall pollen count may be high, but the concentration of the specific pollen triggering your allergy can still be low.
This can work both ways though. The overall pollen count may be low, but the pollen you are allergic to may be highly concentrated in the air, making you constantly sneeze.
To identify the type of pollen you have an allergy to, you should visit an allergist and perform a special allergy test.
Gardening with Pollen Allergies
If you love working in the yard, but have an allergy to plant pollen, there are some changes you can make to enjoy gardening despite your allergy.
For example, you can find a lot of flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees that produce very little to no pollen. There are also species, in which pollen is produced only by male plants, meaning that female plants are allergy-safe.
Below, we will list the worst and the best plants for people with pollen allergies, according to experts.
What Are the Worst Plants for Those with Allergies?
When it comes to flowers and herbs, pollens from amaranth (pigweed), daisies, chamomile, chrysanthemums, goldenrod and ordinary sunflowers tend to trigger allergies in most cases.
Having shrubs or vines like juniper, jasmine vine, cypress and wisteria in the garden is not recommended for pollen-allergic people either.
The worst species of trees for those with allergies include the following: alder, beech, birch, elm, hickory, oak, olive, pecan, pine, sycamore, walnut, as well as male plants of ash, aspen, box elder, cedar, cottonwood, red and silver maples, mulberry, palm, poplar and willow.
Grass pollen is a common allergy trigger in summer, especially pollen from Bermuda, fescue, Johnson, June, orchard, perennial rye, redtop, salt grass, sweet vernal, and timothy.
Finally, weeds like cocklebur, ragweed, Russian thistle and sagebrush should also be avoided, if you have a pollen allergy.
If you put any of the plants listed above in your yard, you will most likely experience an increase in your seasonal allergies.
Which Plants Are Better for Those with Allergies?
As mentioned earlier, some plants produce little or no airborne pollen, which means you can put them in your garden and enjoy watching them grow without any allergy-related complications.
Flowers that are considered as allergy-friendly include: begonia, cactus, chenille, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil, dusty miller, geranium, Hosta, impatiens, iris, lily, pansy, periwinkle, petunia, phlox, rose, salvia, snapdragon, thrift, tulip, verbena, and zinnia.
You can also find hypoallergenic sunflower seeds, such as Apricot Twist, Infrared Mix, the Joker, or Pro-Cut Bicolor, which grow about 5-6 feet tall. These plants produce pollen that is too heavy to be spread.
If you want to put some shrubs in your yard, consider getting azalea, boxwood, hibiscus, hydrangea, or viburnum. You can also consider St. Augustine grass.
People with pollen allergies can still enjoy cultivating trees like apple, cherry, dogwood, Bradford pear, crepe myrtle, hardy rubber tree, magnolia, pear, plum, as well as female plants of Chinese fan palm, fern pine, English holly, and red maple.