Pollen can trigger allergies especially hay fever in many people. For these people, spring can be a nightmare as everything bursts into bloom. Some of the worst offending plants for those with allergies may bloom unnoticed.

Grasses (including some lawn grasses) and many trees (especially deciduous trees and conifers) have insignificant flowers that produce copious amounts of pollen. This is because these plants are wind pollinated. Wind isn’t a particularly efficient method of insuring that pollen reaches a receptive female flower so wind-pollinated plants produce lots of pollen to make sure some of it reaches its target.

Take notice of high pollen count warnings, which are often given as part of weather reports. These offer a measure of wind-borne pollens and indicate when it may be necessary to stay indoors to avoid pollen.

Reducing triggers

To create a garden that’s more comfortable for anyone with hay fever, the first step is to reduce air-borne triggers. Dense evergreen hedges that can help to filter out air-borne pollen can help, as can creating sheltered courtyards or a garden room such as a conservatory.

Also plant non-flowering lawns using ground cover plants including mondo grass or sterile lawn grasses including some forms of soft buffalo grasses. Remove the plants or cut off the flower stems on ornamental grasses to reduce their pollen.

Even mowing the lawn can trigger allergies, so for those who are sensitive to dust and pollen, get Flower Power Garden Care to mow the lawn.

Low-allergy flowers

Not all flowers trigger allergies. Those that rely on birds for pollination tend to have little scent and heavy pollen that’s not readily spread from the flower and is therefore less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Red flowers are often bird or animal, rather than insect, pollinated.

Bee or insect pollinated flowers usually employ several methods to attract pollinators to visit their flowers to carry away pollen. Insect pollinated plants are often blue, mauve, white or yellow as most insects don’t see the red end of the colour spectrum and are often fragrant.

Camellias and fuchsias are usually safe to grow in low-allergen gardens, as are hydrangeas. Orchids are also a good choice for those with allergies.

Foliage plants

Foliage plants can add colour and interest to low-allergen gardens. Good choices include bromeliads and gold dust plant (Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’), which has green and gold variegated leaves. Both are good choices for shaded gardens.

Succulents offer a wealth of choice for those wanting to create a low-allergen garden in a sunny situation. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be grown in garden beds or in containers. Even those that produce showy blooms such as the aloes are not usually problematic for allergy sufferers. Flowering stems on succulents can also be removed before their flowers open if there is concern about their allergy potential.

Many vegetables are also safe choices for those wanting to grow low-allergy plants. Concentrate on leafy and root vegetables.

Other allergens

It is not just pollen that causes allergic reactions. Some plants have sap or hairs on their leaves that can cause allergic reactions. Grevilleas for example can induce allergic skin reactions in some people. Handle any suspect plants with care and wear gloves particularly if you are planting, pruning, picking flowers or taking cuttings.