For the person that suffers from allergies, gardening can be a bit of a disaster. Many plants and flowers produce pollen that can lead to allergy attacks—and that alone can be enough to put people off picking up the habit. But not all plants produce pollen, and it’s those plants that can be enjoyed by anyone.
Light pollen that easily floats off of and around plants is the biggest allergy culprit. The biggest offenders are plants that are wind pollinated—trees, grass, and weeds. Flowers can also set off allergies, but often the pollen on them is much heavier and requires insects for pollination. That means cut flowers can be in the home for many allergy sufferers as long as there isn’t much close contact.
As for the garden, there are many types of flowers that produce very little or no pollen and are therefore not very likely to set off allergic reactions. Try roses, daffodils, geraniums and tulips—especially those with little or no scent. The more pollen a flower has, the more it smells. Best to be safe.
Hibiscus plants, magnolia trees, succulents, and cacti are also a good option for gardeners with allergies. The safest plant, however, is the orchid, which comes in a full array of colors, shapes, and sizes. Bougainvillea is another flower that does not produce any pollen and is safe for allergy-sufferers.
Some plants also come in male or female varieties. These plants are called “diocious” plants. Male plants are responsible for producing pollen, while female plants produce fruit. The two can grow independently, so having a female diocious plant is a good option for allergic gardeners.
A good rule of thumb for any allergic gardener is to look for visible pollen. If you can see it, it’s likely going to be a problem. Some flowers have removable pollen that is located on the flower’s stamen (just make sure someone without allergies removes it!). Stay away from pollen-heavy plants like daisies, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, and jasmine.