Worst and Best Plants for People With Allergies

Got Allergies? Plants to Avoid and Plants to Grow Instead

January 29, 2019
Allergy Plants
Robin Sweetser

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Got allergies? It helps to know which are the best plants and worst plants for allergies—plus, here are six smart practices to cut down on allergic reactions.

Depending on what triggers your allergic reactions—tree pollen, dust, mold spores, grasses, weeds, or strongly scented flowers—there are irritants present from early spring until hard frost. As hard as we try to eliminate the offending plants from our own landscapes, many of the worst offenders are windblown pollens that can be carried from plants blooming far away from our backyards.

Help For An Allergic Gardener

There are some commonsense practices that can help lessen the chances of exposure to allergens.

  1. Avoid working in your garden when pollen counts are high.
  2. Stay indoors on windy days during peak pollen seasons.
  3. Cover your body when gardening or mowing the lawn. Some really sensitive gardeners wear a dust mask to filter out pollen.
  4. Shower well and wash your gardening clothes after you have finished working outside.
  5. Don’t hang your laundry outdoors to dry on high pollen count days.
  6. Close the windows when you or a neighbor mows the lawn and keep them closed for a few hours afterward.

Choosing Low-Allergen Plants

A general rule of thumb when searching for low-allergen plants is to look for showy or brightly colored flowers. These are usually insect or animal pollinated instead of wind pollinated.

Some of the plainest looking plants, such as ragweed, are the worst offenders.

Strongly scented plants can trigger an allergic reaction and are also, sadly, best eliminated from your garden.

Some annuals that are good to use in a low-allergy garden plan are:

  • snapdragons,
  • impatiens,
  • begonias,
  • forget-me-nots, lobelia,
  • petunias,
  • phlox,
  • salvia,
  • pansies,
  • nasturtiums, and
  • verbena

There are many perennials that are perfect for creating an allergy-free garden including:

  • astilbe,
  • columbine, delphinium,
  • daylilies,
  • campanulas,
  • peonies,
  • Siberian iris,
  • Oriental poppies,
  • veronicas,
  • hollyhocks,
  • cranesbill,
  • obedient plant,
  • trollius,
  • balloon flower,
  • filipendula,
  • meadow rue, and
  • gentian

Other plants to consider are:

  • clematis,
  • hosta,
  • forsythia,
  • hydrangea,
  • weigela,
  • yucca, and
  • ornamental cherries, crabapples,
  • plums, and
  • pears

High-Allergen Plants

Some plants to avoid are:

  • ornamental grasses,
  • marigolds,
  • yarrow,
  • monkshood,
  • daisies,
  • asters,
  • primroses,
  • coneflowers,
  • sunflowers,
  • heliotrope,
  • zinnias,
  • dusty miller,
  • sweet peas,
  • cleome, and
  • cosmos

Climbers to leave out of your garden include:

  • Trumpet vine,
  • honeysuckle, and
  • morning glories are climbers

Also, steer clear of shrubs like:

  • elder,
  • daphne,
  • buddleia,
  • mock orange,
  • clethra, and
  • lilacs

Please share your thoughts about how to deal with allergies, especially in the backyard!

About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser’s backyard gardening tips and tricks. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer’s Market.

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