Weeding out garden allergies

Published 2:59 pm Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A colorful, lush garden in bloom is the ultimate symbol of …springtime. And while there’s nothing quite so satisfying as digging in the dirt and getting your garden up and blooming, allergies and hay fever can bury your plans in no time.

Health experts recommend taking the following steps to protect your sinuses as you plan and build your garden.


Pollen is Everywhere

Residents of the Southern United States know the “green fog” of oak pollen that coats everything outside in April and May. And pollen can travel hundreds of miles or more as springtime winds carry it aloft. No matter how careful a gardener you are, remember that pollinated air is inevitable. If you work outside, consider using a breathing mask. Also, remember that window screens won’t block pollen from getting inside your home.


The female of the species is friendlier than the male

Many nurseries and garden retailers advertise garden plants as “seedless” or “fruitless” – hoping to attract gardeners who don’t want the hassle of cleaning up after blooming plants. But think back to your high school biology: plants that don’t carry seeds or fruits are male, and it’s the male plants that produce pollen.

Allergists suggest using plants that rely on insects for pollination instead of air currents. There is a variety of these available at most nurseries and garden centers; from cucumbers and squash to geraniums and roses.


Some plants, bushes, and trees are better than others

Some of the safest flowering plants for allergy sufferers include daffodils, crocus, petunia, phlox, lilies, pansies, petunias, and irises. Safer bets for bushes and trees include roses, azaleas, boxwood and hibiscus.


Pretty flowers can mask allergy “thorns”

Sunflowers, daisies, and chrysanthemums put on a bold show of color, but their vivacity hides an itchy, watery secret. All three are closely related to ragweed, one of the most potent and widespread causes of hay fever. Goldenrod is pretty too, but can trigger ragweed-like reactions. Garden experts recommend using snapdragons or zinnias for a yellow splash of color.


Fight pollen across your entire yard and indoors

Keep your grass trimmed – about two inches high – so that pollen can’t easily reach air currents. Wood chips and mulch trap moisture, which encourages the growth of mold. Avoid high-pollen count conditions by gardening on cool and cloudy days, and change clothes immediately after heading inside.