Gardening is often such a pleasure for many, as you can grow what you like, where you like. This pleasure is not readily available for those who suffer from hay fever, as pollen can cause misery to these people.
It is no fun if your eyes are streaming, your nose is running and/or block, your sinuses are killing you, and you are breaking out in hives. Gardening will be the last thing you want to do. But is this so?
Gardens are normally filled with pollen-rich plants that are good for bees and butterflies, but not so for hay fever sufferers. So can hay fever sufferers container garden, and the answer to this question is a profound yes, as long as you choose the right plants wisely.
Hay fever sufferers need to choose plants which have their pollen trapped within their flowers and therefore less exposed in a complex form. These include double bloom roses and pompom dahlias.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF CONTAINER GARDENING FOR ALLERGY SUFFERERS
The advantages of container gardening are two-fold:
- As plants in containers, they will have little weeds associated with them and therefore produce less pollen. This is because weeds are notorious for producing high levels of pollen. This is especially so if you remove them before they flower, them pollen exposure will be minimized.
- You will have no need to use grass or any ornamental grasses in the garden, as these have high pollen levels, which causes allergic reactions. In container gardening grasses and lawns can be completely avoided, a big plus.
What follows are plants that can be grown in containers to avoid triggering an allergic reaction:
AGAPANTHUS ‘Headborne Hydrids’
This perennial has strap like leaves, and clusters of blue, orb-like flowers in late summer to early autumn. The flowers produce little pollen. It can be grown in a large pot of gritty, multipurpose compost, where it will grow to 1.2m high. It will need to be mulched to protect from frosts.
AGAVE AMERICANA (Curry Plant)
This low allergen evergreen plant, not only are good for allergy sufferers but have attractive coloured leaves. This perennial has lanced-shaped, sharply pointed, grey-green leaves.
This plant grows up to 1.5m tall and therefore would appreciate a large container. Not totally hardy and would like being overwintered in a conservatory or a heated greenhouse.
ALLIUM (Flowering Onions) ‘Purple Sensations’
This perennial bulb with its pompon-like spherical flower heads of purple colour. It flowers from early summer but produces low amounts of pollen. This bulb produces 80cm tall flowering spikes and would look stunning when planted with other bulbs in autumn, or with other perennials. This will disguise the grass-like leaves, which fades as the flower appears.
CAMELLIA JAPONICA ‘Common Camellia’
This round evergreen shrub has oval, glossy dark green leaves. In early spring red flowers of low pollen are produced. ‘Blood of China’ has semi-double blooms and are more suitable to be grown in containers. Very large pots will be required filled with ericaceous compost for this 3m high shrub.
CAMPANULA TRACHELIUM ‘Nettle-leaved Bellflower’
This tough perennial has toothed-edged leaves that look nettle like. The produce tall, leafy stems that have blue to lilac clusters of bell shaped flowers in summer. Look out for a variety called ‘Bernice’ that has double flowers and therefore beneficial to allergy sufferers. The plants grow up to 1m in height.
DAHLIA ‘Franz Kafka’
This stunning Dahlia produces a number of pompon-type blooms that contain limited amounts of pollen. They look good in large pots full of gritty, soil based compost, where the flower will appear on long stems, above green leaves. It grows up to 80cm high. Another variety is Dahlia ‘Natal’
This clump forming perennial of lobed, toothed green leaves that turn red in autumn, This low allergen impact plant produces saucer shaped magenta flowers with black centres and veins from early to late summer. It grows up to 60cm high. Other varieties possible include germanium ‘Himalayense’.
HEMEROCALLIS (Day Lily) ‘Arctic Snow’
This low allergen producing perennial has strap-like green leaves that are deciduous. The blooms are cream colour, with yellow centres and margins, and appear from summer to early autumn. This perennial grows up to 55cm in height.
This long, heart shaped blue-grey leaves of ribbed texture, produces low pollen. This 40cm tall perennial will provide colour and texture in the container garden, where it can be grown in the shade. In summer tall flower spikes of lavender coloured flowers are briefly produced. This plant will be benefitted if it is grown in a large container. Other varieties include Hosta ‘Honeybells’
This annual with its almost black flowers with a golden star in its centre, and its oval shaped leaves will make a striking feature in hanging baskets or containers. This low pollen producing plants will grow up to 30cm tall in its preferred multipurpose compost.
POLEMONIUM CAERULEUM ‘Jacob’s Ladder’
This clump-forming perennial with its upright posture had divided fern-like green leaves. The flowers of blue with orange-yellow centres have low pollen and appear in early summer. This self-seeding plant grows up to 60cm tall, and is quite a large plant so that it will appreciate being grown in a large container. In this way, the self-seeding problem can be minimized.
ROSA (Rose) ‘Aloha’
This climbing rose grows up to 2.5m in height, where it can be trained against a wall or trellis. This shrub produces fragrant fully double, pink flowers, which unusually for a rose, produces little pollen. They produce two flushes of flowers; one in summer, one in autumn. An added bonus is that the green leaves are disease resistant. It would like being grown in a large container with enriched, multipurpose compost.
This perennial of slim, lance shaped, green leaves, produces spikes of star shaped, blue, pink or purple flowers in summer. These blooms have very little pollen inside. ‘Remily Purple’ is a popular choice, where it will grow up to 60cm high. This medium-sized perennial would appreciate being grown in a large pot.
VIOLA CORNUTA ‘Horned Viola’
This dainty evergreen perennial, with its oval-toothed leaves, produces masses of purplish, blue blooms of low pollen. It occasionally produces a white bloom, but this is not common. The flowers are produced from spring to late summer, where it will grow up to 20cm tall.
In this article, plants that are suitable for hay fever sufferers have been highlighted. As you can see the choices are not as varied or numerous as those that can be grown directly in the ground, or in fact in containers for non-allergy sufferers.
Whatever plants you choose make sure that it is low pollen producing, and is suitable to be grown in a container. You may need to take extra precautions as pollen is low in the morning and higher in the afternoon. Watch pollen count forecasts in order to decide if you can garden on that day or not,
If you have any questions or comments, as ever, please leave a comment below.