Allergy Sufferers Need to Know These Flowers

03/03/2018 | Ken Davis Flowers, In the Garden

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

March is the start of spring planting season in the mountains of Arizona. Although the
summer blooming plants are yet to arrive here at Watters Garden Center we are stocked
full of the latest spring bloomers, and they are ready for planting, no matter the
mountains’ spring weather. Flowers are beautiful, but for allergy sufferers they elicit
mixed reactions. It’s interesting that not all flowers trigger allergies. The more hybridized
the plant, the less likely it will have a high level of pollen and the less irritating it will be.
Plants that transfer their pollen by wind are the real culprits. Flowers can be even more
annoying when brought into the confinement of indoors.

Here are garden plants to be avoided and those that are okay for people with allergies.

Worst Flowers for People with Allergies
At the top of the “worst” list are the plants in the Daisy family (Asteraceae), which
includes asters, dahlias, daisies, Gerber daisies, chamomile, chrysanthemums, and

There are some pollen-free sunflowers, ‘Apricot Twist’ and ‘Joker’, that are
hypoallergenic because their pollens are too heavy to be wind-borne.
Ragweed is the bane of every allergy sufferer, and while goldenrod isn’t as problematic
as ragweed it can cause reactions in high wind areas.

Baby’s Breath shows up in many florists’ bouquets, and though the flowers are small,
they pack a lot of pollen. It may seem counterintuitive, but the double-flowered variety is
a better choice than the single-flowered types. The hybridized double flower varieties
have been bred for beauty without the pollen counts of its wilder cousins.

Best Flowers for Allergy Sufferers
There are many flowers that should not cause any sniffles. Hybrid varieties classified as
“formal doubles” have almost no pollen. These are the “fluffy” flowers with lots of
petals and stamens that have evolved into pollen-less staminodes. At Watters we
specialize in these flowers, and our list of allergy-free flowers is always expanding.
Plants grown for their foliage, hosta, dusty miller, and cactus are all superior choices, for
allergy-sufferers’ gardens. If you want more color, feel free to indulge in azalea, begonia,
bougainvillea, camellia, clematis, columbine, geranium, hibiscus, hydrangea, Impatiens,
iris, lily, orchid, pansy, petunia, phlox, rose, snapdragon, thrift, verbena, viola, and

Some highly fragrant flowers do not aggravate allergies, but their potent smells can be
irritants. In close quarters they can cause headaches so may be enjoyed best outside and
not brought indoors. Gardenia, hyacinth, jasmine, and lilac are some in this category.
Many of the French hybrid lilacs and white or yellow varieties are not highly scented.
Also, try the new ‘Boomerang’ series of miniature lilacs that bloom repeatedly through
our long growing season.

Most spring bulbs are very low in pollen, including crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, and tulip.
While lilies have a bit of pollen, it is very easy to remove the stamens and the pollen laden
anthers with a pair of scissors. Be VERY careful removing them as the yellow
pollen can stain clothes and fingers, and the stains are almost impossible to remove. Even
worse, the stems can exude a sap that causes skin irritation in sensitive people.
Most spring bulbs are very low in pollen, including crocus, daffodil, hyacinth, and tulip.

Since most spring flowering bulbs are not the culprits causing allergy symptoms, if you
find yourself sneezing look to your trees. Already the arborvitae, junipers, and some
pines are spewing pollen and causing allergy grief.

Many trees are monoecious, meaning that they have separate male and female flowers.
For the pollen to get from the male flower to the female flower, it has to travel, and wind
often is the easiest way to disburse it. Unfortunately, some of the pollen makes its way to
your nose instead of to the female flowers.

Watters is proud to stock the newest varieties of cypress, cedar, pine, and spruce that have
been bred without much pollen. As expected, these varieties cause far fewer allergy

Plants That Cause Skin Irritations

Gardening Classes that up your game

Arizona Raptor Experience shares its birds; telling about the benefits of raptors and how to attract more birds into your yard. We have a real treat this Saturday as we fly eagles, owls, and hawks through the greenhouses here at Watters. We will have “bird planting” specials and more that day.

Hint – Arrive early and bring your chair; last time this class had 100+ students! Bring a
few dollars or loose change as we always ask for donations to help the owners of these
magnificent birds with their continuing education of birds in the wild.

March 10 – Fragrant and Vibrant Mountain Roses – We believe in roses that
smell like roses! Roses add so much life to any garden with their timeless beauty and
intoxicating scents. Not only will you know which are the most fragrant, but you’ll have
all the insider tips on how to keep your roses disease- and pest-free while keeping them
blooming all season long.

March 17 –Watters’ 56th Spring Open House – Meet the Watters growers, talk
directly to the professionals, and experience many of this spring’s new plant introductions
available only here at Watters Garden Center. Take a look at last year’s Pinterest Board
and follow for more info 🙂

Until next week, I’ll be helping local gardeners with allergy-free flowers here at Watters
Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or