Pollen has the power to make an allergy sufferer miserable. A stuffy/runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes make going outside a dreaded activity. In the United States, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) reports that 50 million people suffer from nasal allergies. Whenever the delicate membranes of the nose encounter the pollen it triggers a kaleidoscope of reactions that make you immediately want to retreat indoors. If you are a sufferer then you are probably wondering what are the worst plants for allergies?
Why Flowers are the Worst Plants for Allergies
Flowers are beautiful and smell heavenly but sadly they carry irritating pollen that can trigger a reaction in certain sufferers. However, the more hybridized the plant, the less likely it is to contain a high level of pollen, so it tends to not irritate as much as old-fashioned varieties.
Interestingly, the showiest flowers do not necessarily have the most pollen. The large, brilliant blooms attract bees and other pollinators but the pollen in such blossoms is exceptionally heavy, so the powder-like substance does not readily float through the air. Therefore, they attract pollinators to spread the pollen because the plant cannot depend on the wind for reproduction transportation. The worst plants for allergies tend to be smaller and non-showy. Such dainty blooms have a light, dusty pollen type that is easily transported by a breeze.
Asters have daisy-looking blooms. The plants lead the list for the worse plants for allergies. They readily bloom during the summer months and are a favorite in classic gardens. Many people cut them for bouquets. Asters are typically not solely wind-pollinated, but the flowers do produce an abundance of pollen which can quickly irritate an allergy sufferer.
The dainty white flowers are favored in bridal bouquets and cottage gardens. They are a lovely accent for roses and other flamboyant blooms. However, don’t let the size of the blooms fool you because the petite flowers pack a great deal of pollen. You’ll encounter two types of baby’s breath, double-flowered and single-flowered. Interestingly, the double-flowered variety contains less pollen than the single. The reason is that the double-flowered are hybrids so have an exceptionally low percentage of pollen. The extra petals also keep the pollen from being as readily distributed.
A true garden classic, the lovely white and yellow blooms of the daisy can brighten any landscape, but the blooms are filled with pollen. A member of the aster family, the daisy is a favorite for bees because of the abundant yellow pollen. The wind does not blow the pollen of the daisy extremely far but if an allergy sufferer gets too close then they can quickly start to suffer symptoms.
A favorite ingredient in tea, chamomile is known for its calming characteristics. However, an allergy sufferer might have a violent reaction to the irritating pollen if inhaled and even a minor reaction if they ingest the pollen via a steaming cup of the brew. Sadly, chamomile is double trouble and needs to be avoided by anyone with a sensitivity to the plant.
Although ragweed is not a garden flower, it does grow wild in many locations. It produces a weedy flower that you might miss without close observation, but the pollen of the inconspicuous blooms is brutal and easily spread via the wind. Ragweed is a survivor and can spring up in vacant lots, along roadways, and even in the back of your flowerbeds.
The King of Flowers – Sunflowers
Sunflowers are amazing to beyond with their sheer size and disk-like center, but the massive blooms have the capacity to produce a great deal of pollen. In addition, sunflowers depend on the wind to disperse the pollen. However, if you are a sunflower lover then you are in luck because pollen-free varieties have been developed such as the Joker and the Apricot Twist which are known to be hypoallergenic.
The hardy chrysanthemum is favored for its strong and robust aroma. However, the blossoms produce a great deal of pollen which poses a problem for allergy sufferers. You’ll encounter chrysanthemums in the garden, in containers, as an indoor plant, and as a cut flower which can all wreak havoc on an allergy sufferer’s system.
A member of the Aster family, the Gerber daisy is a showy masterpiece, but it is loaded with pollen. It can trigger a sneezing fit in many who are susceptible and make their life miserable. Sadly, Gerber daisies are one of the most popular cut flowers which can cause problems if someone in your household has an allergy.
The statuesque dahlia is a showman of the garden. It readily attracts insect pollinators but also depends on the wind. The dahlia can bloom throughout summer and assail the nose causing a nightmare reaction of runniness and sneezing. However, you can enjoy dahlias in your garden if you look for hybrids. Hybrids produce truly little pollen so are an option if you are in love with the showy blooms.
The cool lawn plant ryegrass flourishes throughout much of Northern America. When mowed, it does not produce blooms but if you don’t regularly trim the lawn then it will start to bloom and go to seed which is when it creates an abundance of pollen.
If you are a golfer in the south then you’re probably familiar with Bermuda grass. The hardy warm-season turf is favored on golf courses because it is highly resistant to foot traffic. However, if it is not mowed regularly then it will produce flowers that go to seed. The flowers make a great deal of pollen that can lead to a runny nose and severe congestion in people who are susceptible. Keeping the grass cut is the best solution to handling the pollen of Bermuda grass in the landscape.
Allergy sufferers often feel like they are going to war every time they step foot outdoors during warm weather. Sadly, there are many plants that produce pollen which can trigger the onslaught of unpleasant symptoms. Sometimes the only solution to your allergies is to seek the help of your physician because there is no way to completely get rid of the worst plants for allergies in the great outdoors.