garden plants

A Guide to Allergy Friendly Gardening

Luckily, there are ways that you can still enjoy plants and flowers, both indoors and outdoors, without igniting your allergy.

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Hayfever is every gardener’s worst nightmare. You love your garden and want to make the most of it year-round, especially during the bright and beautiful summer days. But, if you suffer from a pollen allergy, getting outdoors during the sunnier months can be a bit uncomfortable, to say the least.

Luckily, there are ways that you can still enjoy plants and flowers, both indoors and outdoors, without igniting your allergy. Start by making wise choices with the plants you bring into your home and garden; choose non-flowering species and instead opt for those that cleanse the air.

Quick take: Which plants are best for allergy sufferers?

Peace Lilly's are great indoor plants that help neutralise the air, removing any toxins or mould spores that may be present in your home. If you regular get a runny nose from pollen, Tulips are a great pollen-free plant.

Plants that are low-pollen or hypoallergenic will free your air from irritants such as pollen that could cause a flare-up. You can also change how you garden, such as wearing protective gear like gloves and goggles when digging in soil and washing your hands after handling plants. 

Read on for more ways to enjoy gardening (and keep your allergies at bay).

Potted plant on a table


Make Hypoallergenic Plant Choices

When choosing plants for the home, you want to make sure they’re hypoallergenic. This will ensure your enclosed space is free from allergens that might irritate hay fever. Avoid freshly cut flowers with a high pollen count, and choose leafy potted plants that will also cleanse the air around you. 

Here are some houseplants that aren’t likely to cause an allergic reaction;

  • Peace Lily - The Peace Lily looks regal and purifies your home's air. It neutralises toxins and removes mould spores that might be causing a cough or sore throat. While lilies do produce pollen, the Peace Lily has heavier pollen which isn’t airborne, and so is unlikely to irritate those with hay fever. 
  • Dracaena – These clever and hardy houseplants traps allergens in their leaves. It cleanses the air of airborne toxins, helping you breathe easier, too. Plus, it will flourish with little attention and can be watered sparsely. 
  • Areca Palm – The Areca Palm is one of the best air-purifying plants you could invest in. It filters toxins from the air around you, and it looks great while doing so – the huge glossy leaves look magnificent, sitting on a shelf or in an empty corner. Keep it in indirect sunlight and ensure the soil stays moist but not wet. 
  • English Ivy – Another houseplant that clears the air of irritants and mould spores, English Ivy, requires bright light and a little water each week. Bear in mind, this one is toxic to children and pets.
  • Spider Plant – The perfect plant for beginners, the spider plant removes toxins from the air and is safe for every household member. To watch it flourish, keep in indirect light and water when the top 2 cm of soil is dry. 


Make Low-Allergen Garden Plant Choices

Love hot summer days in your garden? Don’t worry; you can still enjoy your outdoor space without irritating your allergies. Again, it’s about making smart plant choices and handling them carefully. 

Here are some outdoor plants that will thrive without giving you a runny nose;

  • Petunia – These bright and beautiful plants bloom from summer to late autumn. To watch them thrive, dedicate a shady spot to them and plant in crumbly soil. They have a low pollen count, so won’t upset your hay fever.
  • Magnolias – Another magnificent bloom that won’t cause hay fever, magnolias look great in your border beds. Plant in a sheltered spot and water during periods of heat or low rain. 
  • Roses – Roses carry pollen, but it’s not airborne, so as long as you wear gloves when handling the buds, they won’t cause an allergic reaction. Water them once a week and prune as needed. 
  • Tulips – The cupped shape of the tulip protects the pollen to stop it from being swept away by the wind. Again, wear gloves when handling them to avoid a reaction. Tulips should be planted in well-drained soil and waters during dryer periods. 
  • Snapdragons – The playful petals of wonderful snapdragons shelter the pollen to stop it from irritating your nose. These colourful lovelies need fertile, crumbly soil and watering once per week, avoiding drenching the delicate petals. 


Signs of Allergy & Plant Choices to Avoid

Knowing your enemy is key when it comes to keeping allergies at bay. Species such as ragweed, goldenrod and sunflowers are known for causing allergic reactions – avoiding these in your garden will ensure you keep enjoying it, even during high-pollen months. 

Digging in plants

It’s worth noting the signs you’re allergic to a plant in your garden. Look out for signs, including: 

  • An itchy throat
  • A runny nose 
  • Watering eyes
  • Hives on the skin. 

If you notice these signs, it’s worth speaking to a medical professional to be sure what the cause is. 

There are ways that you can avoid upsetting your plant allergies if you can’t control what’s planted in the garden; these include: 

  • Don’t touch a plant’s pollen directly
  • Wear gloves when handling plants and pollen, and don’t touch your eyes
  • Stay indoors on windy days
  • Monitor the daily pollen count during the summer
  • Take medication for hay fever.

It is possible to monitor and reduce allergies while getting the most from your love of gardening. Certain species will even help keep your hay fever in check, either by cleansing the air around you or by trapping toxins with their leaves. Incorporating these plants into your home and garden can help keep you comfortable and breathing easily. 

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