For those of us with seasonal allergies, getting out into the garden to enjoy the great British summer can be challenging. However, there are some steps you can take that can mean the difference between a pleasant spring, and a summer cooped up inside. The good news is that not all flowers produce offending pollen and with proper planning and preventative steps, allergies shouldn't have to keep you out of the garden.
Flowers, themselves, are not the enemy. The tiny pollen grains that flowers produce, however, are. After a long winter, plants, trees, and shrubs come alive, bloom, and produce the pollen that gets into our nose, sinuses, eyes and lungs.
Plants that pollinate using the wind are the worst. These plants send their pollen out into the world to find other plants. Unfortunately, they often find allergy sufferers.
Some flowers have a heavier pollen that is not spread by the wind, but instead is transported by the birds who are attracted to the flower's bright colour and nectar. These are the flowers that you should plant if you suffer from allergies because you are less likely to come into contact with their pollen.
Some perennials that are garden friendly for allergy sufferers are daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, iris, tulips, columbine, coral bells, peonies, and the ever popular day lily. Bougainvillea and azaleas are also on this list.
Annuals which have no history of causing allergies are impatiens, snapdragons, and petunias, geraniums, verbena, pansies, and zinnia.
Roses are some of the least offending flowers. Their pollen is large, and less likely to be spread around in the wind. Hybrid roses have even less pollen than wild roses and their varieties. When choosing a rose bush, the rule to obtain the least pollen is to choose the rose with the least smell. A pale pink Cecile Brunner rose and the Banksia rose produce no pollen whatsoever.
A couple of other pollen tips
- Don't over water indoor plants. Soggy soil or water sitting in a drainage tray creates ideal conditions for mould growth.
- When you work in the garden, protect yourself. Wear gloves, long sleeves, glasses (goggles, even) and a hat.
- Wear a paper dust mask while mowing the lawn to reduce your exposure to pollens that are stirred up by the mower.
Source: The National Pollen and Aerobiological Unit - The University of Worcester