From the onset of spring to fall, pollen allergies, or pollinosis, poison the lives of millions of people. But if its symptoms appear in an inveterate Country House owner, it is doubly upsetting, because the desired communion with nature turns into a real torture. Here are a few tips in case you do not want to give up your favorite activity in any way.
How to work with plants in the garden if you are allergic
Before starting work
- If you are prescribed anti-allergy medication, it is better to take it before you start working than after the first symptoms appear.
- Wear a mask, hat, goggles, gloves, and long-sleeved clothing to prevent pollen contact with your skin, nose, and eyes.
In the garden
- Do not touch your face or eyes.
- The best time to work is in the early morning or early evening hours, when the pollen concentration in the air is minimal.
- The optimum weather is after rain: pollen is washed off plants and other surfaces and, being wet, is not carried by the wind. However, short thunderstorms can have the opposite effect: after them, the pollen concentration in the air increases.
- Use gravel, shells, or groundcovers (periwinkle, pachysandra) as mulch instead of wood chips, which accumulate moisture and promote fungal growth.
- Dust, mildew and pollen particles can easily accumulate between the intertwined branches of a hedge. If you do not want to give up this element of landscaping, do not forget about pruning and thinning the branches.
- Mow the grass and weed the flower beds and assign members of the family who do not suffer from allergies.
- Cutting the grass to a height of up to 5 cm can, if not completely get rid of, then significantly reduce the amount of pollen produced by the lawn.
- Keep windows closed during mowing and for several hours afterwards.
- Clean and change your air conditioner filters regularly. Preferably choose HEPA filters that can trap at least 99% of pollen, pet hair, and dust particles.
- When you return home, wash your hands thoroughly and rinse your eyes with cool water, or better yet, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes right away.
What can an allergic gardener plant?
Many plants are characterized by the spreading of pollen through the air: the wind carries the lightest microparticles – when the pollen hits the pistil of a compatible plant, pollination occurs. Plants that reproduce in this way are the main problem for the allergic person: when he breathes in the air, he breathes in pollen particles, after which an allergic reaction occurs – a runny or stuffy nose, itching in the throat or ears, hives, swollen, watery and itchy eyes, cough and sneezing appear, breathing is difficult. Allergies can be caused by one or many plant species.
Plants pollinated by insects and birds pose less danger. Their pollen particles are larger and heavier, so it is advisable to choose them as an alternative to spreading pollen through the air. In addition, flowers designed to attract pollinators are brighter and more fragrant. These include:
- Herbaceous plants: begonia, succulents, acalife, clematis, aquilegia, crocus, narcissus, daisy, crested ash, pelargonium, hosta, perennial, iris, lily, garden pansies, barberry, petunia, flox, rose, sage, lion’s wings, sunflower, seaside armeria, tulip, verbena and zinnia.
- Shrubs: azalea, boxwood, yew berry, hibiscus, hydrangea and snowberry.
Unfortunately, choosing the least dangerous garden plants for allergy sufferers does not always solve the problem fundamentally, because there are probably neighbors nearby who do not have to be so selective in their plantings – the wind can carry pollen from their plots. At the very least, you already know which plants you prefer and how to reduce unwanted contact with pollen.
If you suspect you have pollen allergy, try to determine which plants cause it, or better yet, visit an allergist, who will determine the cause more accurately and make the necessary recommendations.
Which plants to avoid
As spring arrives, most trees begin to produce pollen. The most undesirable trees for pollinosis are alder, ash, aspen, beech, birch, maple, cedar, chestnut, poplar, elm, hickory, juniper, mulberry, oak, olive, pecan, pine, sequoia, sycamore, walnut and willow. Less dangerous trees are apple, cherry, mugwort, turf, holly, eucommia, magnolia, pear, plum, and red maple.
In late spring and early summer, allergy sufferers begin to suffer from numerous herbaceous plants, such as: pigeon fescue, fescue, Aleppo sorghum, perennial tares, giant bentgrass, distichlis, common spikebush, and timothy.
The end of summer and fall are usually the time when weeds are pollinated. The strongest allergens of this period include ragweed, bastard’s broom, woodruff, white marigold, wormwood, ladderwort, plantain, poisonous sumac, sparrow sorrel, saltwort, tumbleweed.