With a few simple precautions, allergies don’t have to stand between you and your garden.
Avoid wind-borne pollinating plants.
Wind-borne pollinating plants, including trees, grasses and weeds, are more likely to cause an allergic reaction than flowering plants. They produce pollen that is light and almost invisible. Released in large quantities for reproduction, the pollens can be easily inhaled. These plants often have smaller blooms with little or no color.
You don’t have to avoid bright, colorful plants.
These plants are often insect-pollinated, producing pollens that are larger, heavier and stickier. These pollens, which are carried by insects and animals from plant to plant, are much less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Choose female plants over males.
While female trees and shrubs are messier than male plants, they do not produce pollen and can actually help remove pollen from the air by trapping it. Avoid planting male trees and shrubs since they produce large amounts of pollen.
Choose disease-resistant plants.
Disease-resistant plants, such as many fruits and vegetables, are less likely to produce mildew, which can cause allergies.
Stick to native plants.
Native plants have already adapted to a climate, are often easier to grow, and require less contact since they do not need extensive watering or fertilizer. These plants also tend to attract more butterflies, insects and birds, which help reduce wind-borne pollination.
Potted plants are always an option.
Consider container gardens if your symptoms are too severe. Potted vegetables and flowers require less time outdoors to maintain.
Location, location, location.
If you do have high-pollen-producing plants, keep them away from front and back doors, bedroom windows,and other high-traffic areas.
If you know you will be spending time outdoors this spring, follow these tips to help keep your allergy symptoms to a minimum:
- Take antihistamines or nasal sprays before you begin gardening rather than after symptoms start.
- Limit your time outside to 15-minute intervals, twice a day,and gradually increase the time. This may prevent a full-blown attack.
- Avoid gardening during the early morning and late afternoon, when pollen counts are likely to be highest.
- Wear a pollen mask and gloves to limit exposure, and avoid touching your face and eyes while working outdoors.
- Garden on days when the pollen count is low or when the day is cool, cloudy or less windy. Pollination increases during hot weather.
- Gardening after a period of rain can be best because rain showers temporarily clear pollens from the air. Brief thunderstorms, however, can actually elevate pollen levels.
- Wash your hands, rinse your eyes with cool water, and change your clothes after coming indoors to remove clinging pollen. Shampoo your hair before going to bed to prevent pollen from getting into bedding.
If you think you suffer from allergic rhinitis, call (800) 86-COUGH, option 2, to schedule a consultation.
Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM is a group practice with eight locations in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbsthat providesstate-of-the-art medical care in a personal and caring environment, emphasizing the control of asthma and allergic disease, while avoiding side effects from medications.
Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM
Locations: Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Collegeville, Pottstown, Philadelphia, Jenkintown, Lansdale and Doylestown.
Office hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Evening appointments are available weekly on alternating days.
Toll-free: (800) 86-COUGH
Local: (610) 825-5800