Plants to Avoid and Enjoy for an Allergy Friendly Garden

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Avoid Allergies Without Saying Goodbye To Your Garden

With springtime flowers starting to bloom nationwide and summer beckoning, allergy season is officially upon us. More than 50 million people in the united states alone suffer from allergies, and if you’re like me, you love plants but hate how they often trigger your seasonal allergy symptoms. Cue the runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, and sneezing. But what if you could enjoy gardening without the threat of allergies? With a few smart plant choices and strategies, you can build a garden that you love that won’t contribute to your allergies and have you running for your nasal spray. Below we list our favorite perennials, and shrubs even allergy suffers can enjoy!

Our Favorite Plants For A Seasonal Allergy-Friendly Garden

Allergy-Friendly Perennials Include:

  • iris
  • hosta
  • columbine
  • phlox
  • catmint
  • cranesbill
  • salvia
  • hens & chicks

Allergy-Friendly Shrubs Include:

  • hydrangea
  • ninebark
  • viburnum
  • rose
  • beautyberry
  • azalea

What Makes A Plant Allergy-Friendly?

More often than not, the number one allergy trigger for plants is pollen, not the flowers themselves. While some plants have high pollen counts, there are many with low or no pollen levels, meaning there are still plenty of options for gardeners with allergies to enjoy! Plants with male flowers, whether the plant only has male flowers (dioecious) or both male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecious), are typically worse for allergies as male flowers are the pollen producers on plants. But lucky for us, pollen usually only irritates allergy symptoms when it’s airborne. Plants that wind rather than animal pollinated tend to be most likely to evoke seasonal allergy symptoms. Due to their light and dusty pollen, wind-pollinated plants are known to be one of the most common contributors to seasonal allergies or hay fever. Plants that have sticky pollen (pollen grains on insect-pollinated plants tend to be heavier and tacky to make it more likely to stick to the insect’s body) or no pollen at all are typically the best allergy-friendly choices.

For some allergy sufferers, fragrance can also trigger symptoms. While some plants may not typically irritate sufferers, their highly fragranced blooms can sometimes still be irritating for one. So many gardeners may want to consider limiting highly fragrant plants in their garden this season if they find them bothersome.

How Do I Tell If A Plant Is Allergy-Friendly?

Lucky for us allergy sufferers, three-fourths of the flowering plants on earth are pollinated by animals giving us plenty of options to choose from and making it easier to avoid wind-pollinated plants. Looking for plants labeled pollinator-friendly or plants that are foliage-forward plants can be a quick way to narrow down which plants might be a good fit for your garden. And don’t worry, just because you suffer from allergies doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice big beautiful blooms. Many plants with showy flowers are considered allergy-friendly because their flowers are used to attract pollinators; it’s a win-win in our book.

Plants Allergy Sufferers Should Avoid

As we mentioned earlier, wind-pollinated plants tend to be more likely to trigger symptoms than animal pollinated plants. So what plants are more likely to be wind-pollinated? Trees such as birch, elm, maple, oak, and ash are all wind-pollinated and tend to produce large amounts of pollen. Allergy sufferers should also avoid conifers such as juniper, cypress, and cedar. Popular perennials like wisteria and common daisies should be avoided if pollen induces your allergy symptoms. For all the wisteria lovers out there looking for an allergy-friendly alternative, clematis would be a great option!

What You Can Do?

While avoiding wind-borne pollen entirely is nearly possible, and attempting to do so would leave you trapped inside away from your garden, there are a few things you can do. First, you can avoid planting plants that are known allergy triggers for you. Next, a great strategy to implement is to limit your time outdoors when pollen is being shed. You can track pollen counts/levels in your area by heading to the National Allergy Burea or sites like Pollen.com. They’ve both created maps to easily track pollen levels and even the type of plants that are likely to be triggering symptoms (perfect for those who are more sensitive to some plants more than others, like me and ragweed).

Avoiding gardening and spending copious amounts of time during days with heavy pollen counts are the best ways to limit your symptoms. Other than that, you don’t need to give up gardening or beautiful flowers if you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer; you can add more (allergy-friendly) plants without worry! The list we created isn’t exhaustive so if you have questions about whether or not a plant you’ve been eyeing or have in your garden is allergy-friendly, reach out to us, and we’ll let you know! Our team of garden enthusiasts and horticulture experts are here to help, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. Happy Gardening!

Written by: Miranda Niemiec, click here to read bio.

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