Which Plants To Avoid & Which To Embrace with Hay Fever
Determining which flowers will cause the worst allergic reactions has to do with the gender of the plant - I mean who knew?! as only the male flowers produce the pollen! Some plants contain all male, or all female flowers on each individual plant, these flowers are known as dioecious and rely upon wind or insects to carry pollen from a male to a female to reproduce... sexy.
Whereas other plants called monoecious plants contain both male and female flowers on the same plant so that means the pollen must travel from flower to flower but not plant to plant. Some monoecious plants contain male and female parts in the same flower and these are often deemed 'perfect flowers' and do not require pollen to be transferred at all as the single flower can reproduce on its own.
But what I hear you cry has this got to do with whether your mascara will keep intact on your big day?! Well, when it comes to allergies, dioecious flowers tend to pose the biggest threat as the pollen must travel long distances to be able to reproduce, and inevitably this is then dispersed into the air. Monoecious flowers can also pose a threat, whereas those 'Perfect flowers' are the best option for allergy sufferers.
Other flowers that tend to produce less pollen are those that are large, big, and bright to attract the bees more easily and as such do not need to rely upon the wind to pollinate. These flowers tend to have heavier pollen that doesn't become airborne as easily.
The Worst For Allergy Sufferers:
High pollen or pollen in the air = strongest reactions in allergy sufferers right...
Generally any flower in the Asteraceae family will not be a great choice for those with pollen allergies as the Asteraceae or Compositae family is commonly referred to as the daisy, aster, composite, or sunflower family.
These flowers are characterised by their large circular centres and petals that fan out in a circle. While most flowers in the aster family are not wind-pollinated, they tend to have very high pollen levels and cause irritation for those with pollen allergies.
Other flowers that cause reactions for allergy sufferers are varieties that you might encounter in the wild, such as pigweed, goldenrod and jasmine vine. If you suffer from pollen allergies, you should prune these flower varieties from your garden and avoid bouquets with them. Another type of flower that is particularly bad for allergy sufferers is tree flowers/blossom. When choosing a spring flower arrangement, be careful not to include almond, cherry, apple, or any other kind of tree blossom.
Below are some common flowers that those with pollen allergies should avoid:
Baby’s breath: These tiny white flowers pack a big allergy punch. Baby’s breath is known and loved for its thin and delicate structure and usefulness for filling out bouquets and floral wreaths. If you want to incorporate baby’s breath into a floral arrangement without the allergic reaction, look for double flowers. Double-flowered baby’s breath is a hybridized variety, meaning it naturally produces less pollen. The double flowers also have more petals that help to trap pollen and prevent it from becoming airborne.
Chamomile: Chamomile flowers are small white flowers with yellow centres that are a member of the daisy family. Chamomile flowers are most familiar in chamomile tea. They produce a lot of pollen and can still contain some irritants when they’re dried and steeped into tea. Those with severe pollen allergies may even experience mild reactions when enjoying the hot beverage.
Chrysanthemums: Another daisy family favorite, chrysanthemums feature warm, earthy colors like burgundy, orange, raspberry, and yellow. Their full, bushy structure makes them perfect for potted plants and outdoor decorations. Chrysanthemum plants often have a high concentration of flower heads, meaning a higher concentration of pollen. Because they bloom in late summer and early fall, chrysanthemums can drag allergy season well into the cooler autumn months.
Dahlia: Dahlia flowers are another popular variety of the daisy family, loved for their vibrant colors and distinct petals. With over 40 different species, dahlias can range from round and full to delicate with long, pointed petals. While dahlias attract pollinating insects well due to their brightness, they still produce a lot of pollen that can be very irritating for those with allergies. If you adore dahlias but suffer from pollen allergies, consider trying a hybrid variety instead.
Daisy: Daisies are not wind-pollinated but are very high pollen producers. With their iconic yellow center and white petals, daisies are popular in gardens and bouquets. They’re very easy to cultivate and bloom throughout the summer months.
Gerbera daisy: Gerbera daisies are one of the brightest varieties in the daisy family and are very popular as potted flowers. While they’re lovely and colorful, they’re best to avoid if you suffer from pollen allergies.
Sunflowers: A classic symbol of summer, sunflowers are recognizable by their large center disk and bright yellow petals. With some varieties growing up to 10 feet tall, sunflowers are popular in flower gardens. They can also add a pop of color to bouquets and floral arrangements. However, the large centers of sunflower heads are loaded with pollen that can cause serious irritation for allergy sufferers. If you love sunflowers but experience pollen allergies, don’t despair. Hypoallergenic varieties produce less pollen and can be safely enjoyed by lovers of the bright summer blooms.
Don't forget, these are just a list to highlight those that could cause you more of an allergy problem should you suffer from pollen allergies. Of course, if you LOVE these flowers, then that is fine too and you can alleviate this with heading to the natural remedy post I posted recently.
Best Flowers for Allergy Sufferers
Luckily for flower lovers, there are quite a few varieties of flowers that those with pollen allergies can enjoy without experiencing a reaction. Many flowers produce very little pollen, or the pollen they do produce is too heavy to become airborne. Perfect flowers and flowers pollinated by insects can be an excellent choice for allergy sufferers to pluck for bouquets or plants in their gardens.
While the daisy family is a nightmare for allergy sufferers, they can find solace in another of the largest families of flowers — the orchid family. Orchids are an exotic and elegant flower that comes in a wide variety of colors. Lilies can be a good choice for allergy sufferers, as it is easy to simply remove the stems of pollen from each flower.
Below are some lovely flower options for those with allergies:
Daffodil: These popular springtime blooms give a bright pop to any bouquet. Daffodils are recognizable for their unique, trumpet-like centers and simple yellow petals. They produce very little pollen, which stays contained inside their center cup, making them perfect for allergy sufferers.
Geranium: Geraniums are simple, five-petaled flowers that allergy sufferers can enjoy in a variety of colors, including pink, white, red, purple and blue. They’re an excellent choice for potted plants, as they feature rich green foliage.
Hydrangea: Hydrangea bushes produce large, round blooms that are prized for their beautiful pastel colors, such as baby blue, pale pink and lavender. White hydrangeas are also a popular addition to wedding bouquets and can provide fullness in a floral arrangement. Hydrangeas produce very little pollen, making them perfect for allergy sufferers.
Iris: Irises are known and loved for their deep purple and lavender blooms. Their unique, lily-like shape adds intrigue to traditional bouquets. Irises grow in thin, delicate varieties as well as full flowers with soft, lush blooms. Irises have heavy pollen that’s trapped inside their long petals and unable to harm even the most sensitive of allergy sufferers.
Lily: Available in many varieties, lilies are recognizable by their large flower heads with distinct petals. Most of them have six petals that can feature unique patterns like speckles and stripes. They typically have heavy pollen that’s carried by insects, so they pose little threat to allergy sufferers. However, some lilies can have a very strong fragrance. If you’re sensitive to strong smells, you may want to opt for a less fragrant option.
Orchid: Orchids are a popular flower both potted on their own and incorporated into elegant bouquets. They have a sophisticated and modern appeal that makes them a lovely decoration for offices and other sleek spaces. Orchids produce very little pollen, so you can enjoy them without risking an allergic reaction.
Peony: With their full blooms and deep green leaves, peonies are a favorite for gardens and bouquets. From pale pink to rich raspberry, peonies bring warmth to any arrangement. Their layers of soft petals trap pollen, making them a perfect choice for people with pollen allergies.
Rose: Roses are perfect flowers in more ways than one — they’re classic, elegant and beautiful as well as being virtually allergen-free. These self-pollinating flowers produce a soft and lovely fragrance without generating airborne pollen. Fill your home with rose bouquets in any color, or send them to someone special.
Snapdragon: A popular garden flower, snapdragons feature a unique blossom shape and a wide variety of colors. Their pillared blooms provide height and intrigue to floral arrangements. Snapdragon petals enclose the stamen to trap pollen inside, making them perfect for allergy sufferers to enjoy all summer long.
Sunflowers (hypoallergenic): Luckily for sunflower lovers, several hypoallergenic varieties are available to fill a home or garden with. The Joker is a bright flower with a deep red center that fades into yellow tips. Bicolor sunflowers have a similar coloration to The Joker but feature sharper color separation and rich black centers. Apricot Twist sunflowers feature a warm orange coloring and gold center. Infrared Mix sunflowers have a unique variety of colored blooms with full crimson flowers mixed with golden and white blooms.
Tulip: Tulips are beloved spring blooms known for their unique cup shape. They’re a member of the lily family, meaning they produce very little pollen. What they do produce is heavy pollen that clings to their distinct stamen. Tulips make a lovely addition to fresh spring bouquets and pair well with peonies and other lilies.
Zinnia: Zinnias are a dream come true for daisy-lovers that suffer from pollen allergies. While they’re a member of the daisy family, they tend to be more amenable to allergy sufferers. Available in bright pinks, reds, oranges and yellows, zinnias provide a pop of color for gardens and bouquets alike.
While these popular blooms are a great place to start, the list of flowers that are friendly to allergy sufferers doesn’t end there. Others that are great for those with pollen allergies include azalea, begonia, cactus flowers, camellia, chenille, clematis, columbine, crocus, impatiens, pansy, periwinkle, petunia, phlox, salvia, thrift, and verbena.