Gardening is one of life’s simple pleasures. But for some 2 million Australians who suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergies, having a green thumb means suffering from symptoms like a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
Allergens, such as pollen and molds peak in the warm weather months, allergies shouldn’t keep you away from the pleasures of allergy-free gardening. Knowing what type of plants and trees are most likely to trigger allergies and planning gardening time strategically can help reduce sneezing and wheezing caused by seasonal allergies.
Some people may be irritated by flowers that release a strong scent, but that type of reaction is not related to pollen or seasonal allergies and is caused by a reaction to the oils the blossom contains.
Not withholding details like taste preferences sentimental values, I would like to give you some pointers when selecting plants for your garden. But the biggest thing you can do to help yourself enjoy the garden is to plant wisely.
The first pointer I would suggest is to cut down on the size of your lawn. It is your biggest enemy when it comes to pollen. Consider using other options such as groundcovers, hard surfacing, or large islands of mulch and pathways that reduce the amount of turf.
My second pointer is to switch to native plants where possible. They are low maintenance plants that are used to the hard conditions of Australian weather.
If you are a really sucker for colours and flowers, choose plants with big, showy flowers; the bigger the flower, the bigger the pollen. Big pollen doesn’t passes through our nasal passages as easily as fine pollen does. Good choices include many beloved spring bulbs.
My fourth pointer is to avoid plants with homely little flowers in brown and green. In the garden, homely plain flowers are bad news. These are wind-pollinated and are the main cause of your misery. If you’ve ever gone too long without mowing the lawn you’ll see what I mean. Grass has a flower. It looks like threads and dots in brownish green, well that’s plain misery. Keep that lawn mowed if you must keep it at all. And watch for weeds that have similar blooming types.
Enough with the negatives, below is a list of plants that are good for Asthmatics, these are usually insect-pollinated, or sterile and usually propagated by cuttings or grafting:
HERBS- Basil, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Horseradish, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme. AVOID Chamomile and Wormwood
GROUND COVERS-Canterbury Bells, Juniper, Kidney Weed, Native Violet, Pratia, Rosemary, Rose Baeckia, Snow in Summer, Tea tree, Thyme
GRASSES- Buffalo Grass, Greenless Couch Grass, Kangaroo Grass, Rice or Weeping Grass.
FLOWERS- Alyssum, Anemone, Banksia Rose, Begonia, Climbing Rose, Coleus, Columbine, Cornflower, Floss Flowers, Foxglove, Glossy Abelia, Impatiens, Larkspur, Lobelia, Nasturtium, Nemesia, Pansy, Petunia, Phiox, Rosemary, Snapdragon, Verbena, Viola, Bulbs (daffodil). AVOID-Asteraceae family of daisies including Chrysanthemum, Calendulas, Marigolds
CLIMBERS- Applyberry, Chilean Jasmine, Dusky Coral Pea, Ivy Leaf Geranium, Kiwi Fruit, Passionfruit, Star Jasmine, Trumpet Vine, Wonga Vine, Crimson Passionflower.
SHRUBS- Azalea, Banksia, Bottlebrush, California Lilac, Callistemon, Camellia, Cistus, Dog rose, Escallonia, Flax, Gardenia, Guinea Flower, Kunzea, Lavender, Leptopspermum, Melaleuca, Myrtle, Plumbago, Rosa Species, Rhododendron, Silky Tea Tree, Twiggy heath, Weigelia, Westringia, White Correa Yucca Salvia, Bracelet Honey Myrtle, Common White heath
TREES-Bay Laurel, Cabbage Palm, Lillypilly, Citrus species, Coastal Banksia, Orchid Tree, Flowering Crab Apple, Willow Myrtle Silky Oak, Male Gingko biloba, Old Man Banksia, Paperbark, Most Prunus species, Scribbly Gum, Tupelo, Silver Princess Gum, Peppermint Gum.
PLANTS TO AVOID- Clematis, Common Ivy, English Ivy, Some Grevilleas, Poinsettia, Polyanthus, Primrose, Primula, Rhus tree, Alder, Ash, Birch, Cypress, Elm, Hazel, Liquidambar, Maple, Mulberry, Olive, Orchid Tree, Privet, Walnut, White Cedar, Willow, She-Oak (Male only)
Remember that good control of your asthma and allergies at all times will lessen the impact of any exposures. The above is only indicative and you should check with your doctor that you are receiveing optimal preventative management for your hayfever.