How to make an allergy-friendly garden?

Allergens float in the air and build up on leaves, clothes, and hair, making life difficult for allergy sufferers. Learn how to build an allergy-friendly garden with the least possible condensation of seasonal allergens.

How to make an allergy-friendly garden?

Causes of allergies in your garden

Pollen allergy is the best-known and most recognized type of allergy, which causes various symptoms ranging from mild hay fever to life-threatening asthma. Allergy can also occur through direct contact with an allergenic plant. In this case, allergy symptoms may occur by touching or smelling the plant.

Often allergies are caused by volatile flower aromas and essential oils contained in plants. They penetrate the body through the respiratory tract and skin. Therefore, allergy sufferers should avoid plants with a strong scent in the garden, stems and leaves covered with hairs, and species that produce irritating cell sap.

Allergenic plant pollen

Pollen is male reproductive cells that produce seed plants. They arise from microspores in pollen sacs, the male organs of reproduction: microspores in gymnosperms and stamens in angiosperms. The production of pollen by plants is closely related to their struggle for the survival of the species. Pollen allergy symptoms are often so intense that they ultimately discourage the allergy sufferer from being outside the home.

Flower pollen

Flower pollen is the staple food of bees and consists of protein, minerals, fat, vitamins, organic acids, and hormones. The size and shape of the pollen depend on the species. For example, the pollen of the forget-me-not has a diameter of 0.0003 mm, while the pumpkin pollen is 0.22 mm.

Grass pollen

Grass pollen is the most common cause of allergic rhinitis and atopic pollen asthma. At a concentration of 20 grains of grass pollen in 1 m3 of air, the first allergy symptoms appear in 25% of allergy sufferers. To avoid the production of pollen by grasses, the production of inflorescences by plants should be controlled. If necessary, grasses should be cut before flowering begins.

Flowers anatomy and allergy

Despite the enormous variety in flower structure and the mechanisms that facilitate pollination, the anatomy of these plant organs has remained the same. Each flower comprises the perianth, sepals, pistils, and stamens.

Perianth

The perianth consists of the petals of the crown and the sepals. It is the most decorative part of any flower. The sepals are green and protect the flower. They are located below the petals of the crown, which are colored, and their primary function is to attract pollinators and protect the anthers and pistils.

Flower pistil

The flower pistil is inside the perianth. It is made up of a stigma, neck, and ovary. There are female reproductive cells in the ovary.

The stamen of the flower

Pollen is an essential food source for pollinators. While in humans, it can cause an allergy - pollinosis. Each flower stamen is made of a filament (a thread-like part that holds up the anther) and a head with anthers. Each anther contains two pollen sacs filled with pollen grains containing male reproductive cells.

Full flower

Petals and stamens with anthers are evolutionarily transformed leaves of the shoot. No wonder proper breeding allows the stamens to be turned back into leaves or petals for full flowers. These types of flowers sometimes arise spontaneously in nature.

It is an absolute disaster for plants because the male perianth is disappearing. However, for allergy sufferers, such flowers have only advantages. In addition to their attractive appearance, they produce minimal allergenic pollen or are entirely devoid of it.

Why do plants need pollen?

Why do plants need pollen?

Have you ever wondered why plants need pollen?

Flower pollen is essential for plants because it allows them to cross and produce healthy and strong offspring. So pollen helps plants survive the species. The flowers allow pollen (male cells) to transfer to the pistil (female reproductive cells) freely. In this way, most species can produce fruit and produce seeds.

Do all plants produce pollen?

Select dioecious species when choosing pollen-free plants for an allergy-friendly garden. Pollen is produced only by seed plants: gymnosperms and angiosperms. Club mosses and ferns do not produce pollen, but spores, which, unfortunately, can also cause allergies. These plants come in two forms. Female - they produce only female flowers devoid of allergenic pollen, and male - they have only male flowers that produce pollen.

Good choices of popular dioecious female plants whose female forms can be cultivated without fear in the garden without allergens are:

  • Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
  • Chokeberry (Celastrus)
  • Actinidia (Actinidia)
  • Red horse chestnut (Aesculus × carnea)
  • Yew (Taxus)
  • Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

List of best anti-allergy plants for your allergy-friendly garden

Choosing plants for a garden for allergy sufferers is not easy. Avoid allergenic wind-pollinated plants, fruit trees, and shrubs with pollen in the air for several days. The garden for allergy sufferers should be rich in dioecious trees (yew, willow, poplar), but only and exclusively female specimens that do not produce pollen.

The less allergenic plants also include trees and shrubs, the pollen of which is heavy, so it cannot stay in the air for a long time and quickly falls to the soil. Plants that produce heavy pollen include apple trees, magnolias, and holly.

In the allergy-friendly garden, there should be species that produce closed flowers, such as the garden snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) or most species of the Lamiales family. In search of nectar, the insect crawls inside the flower and collects pollen, which sticks to its body. The same happens with flowers with a tubular structure.

Garden snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
Garden snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) - a species from the Lamiales family, recommended for cultivation in gardens for allergy sufferers.

Many Asteraceae family plants produce small flower baskets that hide the pollen inside the tubular flowers so that the wind does not blow away allergenic pollen. An example of such a plant is clover.

Recommended for cultivation in allergy-friendly gardens are flowers from the rose, poppy, and buttercup families, especially species with full flowers. The larger the flower, the larger and heavier the pollen is. Heavier pollen is more difficult to be lifted by the wind.

One of the best plants for an allergy-friendly garden are:

  • Midland hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlette’)
  • Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea)
  • Bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
  • Japanese rose (Kerria japonica)
  • Goldflame honeysuckle (Lonicera × heckrottii)
  • Flowering currant (Ribe sanguineum)
  • English yew (Taxus baccata)
  • Old Fashioned Weigela (Weigela florida)
  • Wolfsbane (Aconitum napellus)
  • Hollyhock (Alcea rosea)
  • Garden snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
  • European columbine (Aquilegia vulgaris)
  • Thrift seapink (Armeria maritima
  • Long-stalked Aster (Aster dumosus)
  • Bellflower (Campanula persicifolia)
  • Dahlia × cultorum
  • Rosy Future (Delphinium × cultorum)
  • Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)
  • Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
  • Common foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
  • Bergamot, Bee Balm (Monarda × hybrida 'Bergamo')
  • Grape hyacinth (Muscari botryoides)
  • Narcissus (Narcissus)
  • Common garden peony (Paeonia lactiflora)
  • Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi)
  • Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
  • Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina)
  • Wood violet (Viola odorata)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
  • Garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Summary

Creating an allergy-friendly garden is challenging, but it is possible to create. It will be much easier to avoid wind-pollinated plants and numerous species of the Asteraceae family, whose pollen sheds quickly. Also, choosing hypoallergenic flowers can help prevent allergic reactions in your allergy-friendly garden.

Choose plants with full flowers, as well as dioecious trees and shrubs. But be sure only to plant the female forms of the species concerned, as only they do not produce any allergenic pollen.

The above list shows the most common plant species with a low risk of sensitization. This article will help you choose the suitable species and enjoy allergy-free gardening.

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