Problems With Summer Pollen: Plants That Cause Summer Allergies
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Spring isn’t the only time you can expect hay fever. Summerplants are also busily releasing pollen which can aggravate allergies. Not onlysummer pollen but contact allergies are common among sensitive gardeners. Learnabout the common allergy causing plants that grow in the hot season and how tominimize their effects.
Typical Summer Allergy Plants
You know the symptoms. A stuffy head, runny nose, headache,weepy eyes and itching. Summer plant allergies don’t have to ruin yourvacation. Know the plants that cause summer allergies so you can avoid them andconcentrate on sunny fun.
Many of the allergy causing plants in summer are found wildin ditches, fields and abandoned spaces. That means a casual hike for thosethat are sensitive can become a real drag. Fields are excellent hosts to suchplants as:
- Timothy grass
Larger trees are flowering and releasing annoying summerpollen too. Some of these occur in orchards, woods and pastures. Likely treesuspects that are causing allergy symptoms include:
- Mountain cedar
Summer Allergy Plants in Your Garden
As you might expect, plants that produce flowers are thebiggest offenders. It may be the pollen but it also may be the scent thatcauses your nose to tickle, such as:
- Purple coneflower
- Stock flowers
But it isn’t only the bloomers that cause summer plant allergies.Ornamental grasses are popular landscape plants due to their resilience, easeof care and, in many cases, drought tolerance. Your turf grass can also be aculprit:
- Bermuda grass
- Sweet vernal
Most landscapes feature smaller trees, shrubs and bushes. Ofthese, some of the common plants that cause allergies are:
- Japanese cedar
Preventing Summer Allergy Symptoms
There are things you can do and still enjoy the outdoorswithout feeling miserable.
- Take your walk between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., when pollen counts are at their lowest.
- Use any allergy medicines at least 30 minutes before you go outdoors so they can have time to take effect.
- Shower thoroughly when you have been outside and exposed to plants.
- Use a mask for mowing and other activities that dislodge pollen.
- Rinse patio furniture to remove allergens, dry clothes in the dryer so they don’t get covered in pollen and keep the home closed.
- The use of a HEPA filter in your home can help track tiny particulates and make you rest must easier.
With some careful attention and good hygiene, you can avoidmost of the problems with summer allergies and enjoy the season.
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If itвЂ™s spring and youвЂ™re sneezing, these trees might be part of the problem. They grow throughout the continental U.S., except in the southernmost and westernmost states, and their pollen is very likely to trigger allergies. TheyвЂ™re often planted in yards and other landscaping because people like the way they look -- the telltale white bark makes them easy to spot.
This tree grows in all but the coldest northern parts of the continental U.S. and makes pollen in the fall. The American elm, once common in the East and Midwest, has been steadily dying out since the outbreak of Dutch elm disease in Ohio in 1930. But the sturdy Chinese elm has stepped in. It grows to 40 to 60 feet tall with a full oval crown.В В
Worst Plants for Allergies
You can expect more plant pollen and seasonal allergies if you put any of these plants in your yard.
Amaranth (pigweed), chamomile, chrysanthemums, daisies,В ordinary sunflowers.
Cypress, jasmine vine, juniper, wisteria.
Alder, ash (male), aspen (male), beech, birch, box elder (male), cedar (male), cottonwood (male), elm, hickory, red and silver maples (male), mulberry (male), oak, olive, palm (male), pecan, pine, poplar (male), sycamore, walnut, willow (male).
Bermuda, fescue, Johnson, June, orchard, perennial rye, redtop, salt grass, sweet vernal, timothy.
Cocklebur, ragweed, Russian thistle, sagebrush.
4 Tips to Minimize Allergy Symptoms While Gardening
Spring and early summer usher in both gardening and allergy seasons. But avid gardeners don’t have to choose between their hobby and allergy relief. Understanding a bit about how plants contribute to allergy symptoms can help gardeners develop a strategy for having a well-tended garden while minimizing allergy symptoms.
1. Timing is Everything
Pollen counts vary based on weather and time of day. Pollen counts tend to rise throughout the morning and then dissipate in the evening. Allergy sufferers will fare best by gardening early in the morning or in the evening.
Pollen is typically higher on windier and warmer days and lowest on cool, damp days. Rain will generally wash pollen off plants and dampen pollen so that it is less likely to be carried by the wind. While prolonged and gentle rain lowers pollen counts, brief thunderstorms may increase pollen levels by disrupting pollen and dispersing it into the air.
You should also consider planning gardening activities for those times when pollen counts will be the lowest. There are many websites that allow you to monitor the pollen count in your area. You may also be able to find out the pollen count during your local newscast.
2. Choose Plants Carefully
Many people assume flowering plants are responsible for seasonal allergies. However, it’s rare for flower pollen to cause significant seasonal allergy symptoms. Flower pollens typically are heavy and fall to the ground rather than floating in the air. Most allergy symptoms are caused by pollens from trees, grasses and weeds, which tend to be light and airborne for a longer time.
Allergy sufferers may want to minimize the number of trees, shrubs and other plants that don’t produce seeds or flowers. Those are more likely to trigger the sneezing, running nose, congestion and itchy eyes associated with seasonal allergies.
Most flowering bushes and trees don’t release much pollen. However, sunflowers, daisies and chrysanthemums are all related to ragweed and, therefore, are more likely to trigger allergy symptoms. If you love sunflowers, look for hypoallergenic seeds which will give you the beauty of sunflowers without pollen. Mums and daisies don’t come in hypoallergenic versions, so people with allergies may want to skip those, or at least keep them to a minimum in the garden.
And while green, healthy lawns look nice, they can be a pollen trap. Bermuda, Johnson, June, orchard, perennial rye, redtop, salt grass, sweet vernal, Timothy and fescue grasses are particularly heavy pollen producers. Allergy sufferers will do better with Buffalo and St. Augustine grasses, which produce less pollen.
High pollen trees and shrubs include cypress, juniper, alder, ash, aspen, beech, birch, box elder, cedar, cottonwood, elm, hickory, maple, mulberry, oak, olive, palm, pecan, pine, poplar, sycamore, walnut and willow.
Allergy friendly trees, shrubs and plants include begonia, cactus, chenille, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil, geranium, hosta, impatiens, iris, lily, pansy, periwinkle, petunia, phlox, fose, salvia, snapdragon, tulip, zinnia, azalea, boxwood, English yew, hibiscus, hydrangea, apple, cherry, fern pine, dogwood, English holly, magnolia, pear, plum and red maple.
3. Consider Where You Place Plants
Even allergy friendly plants can trigger allergy symptoms with too much exposure. Allergy sufferers should consider placing plants in locations where they can enjoy their beauty, but where they won’t be constantly bombarded by any pollen from the plants.
Minimize placement of plants outside windows and doors. Consider buying cut flowers from a local florist since most flowers coming from florists are cultivated to be pollen free. When garden flowers are brought inside, pollen production often ramps up in warm, dry spaces.
The branches of hedges often collect pollen, mold and dust. If you have hedges, prune and trim them to minimize exposure to allergens.
4. Take Proper Precautions
When working outside, wear protective clothing: a face mask, hat, glasses, gloves and a long-sleeve shirt to reduce pollen exposure. Avoid touching your face and eyes while working outdoors. And, be sure to remove clothes and shower or bathe immediately upon entering your home to prevent any outside allergens from being spread throughout your home.
Keep grass cut low and trim shrubs and hedges to reduce the amount of pollen that is released into the air.
Avoid traditional mulch and wood-chip ground covers as they often retain moisture and promote the growth of molds. Instead, use oyster shell, gravel or plant ground covers (such as vinca or pashysandra), which are less likely to retain excess moisture.
There’s no way to completely eliminate allergens in the garden. But with planning, allergy sufferers can enjoy their garden with minimal allergy symptoms.
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People are often surprised to learn my husband is the reason why our garden looks amazing every year. He’s learned that it can be quite therapeutic to spend time tending to our plants. However, we’re assuming that it’s allergies that causing him problems. now. It’s good to know that it might be caused by the flowers we’ve chosen this year. For safety measures, we’re planning on getting a professional opinion to make sure it’s not something more serious or at least get him allergy treatment.
Contact Our Phoenix Allergy Specialists
If you’re suffering from allergies, we can help. Our allergy doctors have helped thousands of patients in Arizona breathe a little easier. You deserve to live a life that is free of allergy attacks. Find an allergy and asthma clinic near you.
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