plants to avoid if you have hayfever

Suffer from hay fever? Don’t have these plants in your garden

Monday 11th Mar 2024 |

2024 is set for a particularly bad allergy season due to early pollination, which will leave 1 in 3 of us with classic symptoms like watery eyes, itchy skin, a runny nose and more.

Most of us spend plenty of time in our outdoor spaces to enjoy spring weather, but which plants can worsen hay fever symptoms that could be in your garden?

Here, I list the worst plants to have in your garden if you suffer from allergies.

Ryegrass

This is one of the most common grass species in the UK due to its durability, easy germination, and ability to thrive in cold and wet climates.

However, ryegrass can cause problems for hay fever sufferers because it is wind-pollinated, meaning pollen is loosened by the wind and becomes air-borne – eventually landing on our skin, in our nose and mouth and triggering allergies.

Grass pollen is the most irritating pollen type for hay fever sufferers, and an estimated 90 percent of people with the allergy are affected by it.

Unfortunately, ryegrass is a regular feature in British lawns, so it is difficult to remove from your garden if it is already present.

If you’re a serious sufferer, it may be time to consider artificial grass.


Otherwise, the easiest way to minimise symptoms is to mow your lawn once a week which will prevent flowering and minimise pollen production.

Daises

Despite their delicate appearance, daises are in fact one of the worst plants to have around due to wind pollination.

Like ryegrass, daisy pollen becomes airborne and can become a major source of irritation and classic hay fever symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itchiness, and coughing.

Chamomile flowers belong to the same family and can have the exact same effect.

It is best to try and remove any daises from your lawn and avoid planting them in flowerbeds or hanging baskets.

Instead, opt for insect-pollinated flowers which are much less irritating but will look just as beautiful, such as carnations, pansies, and hydrangeas.

Ragweed

Perhaps one of the most allergenic plants on this list, ragweed can grow to just a few centimetres or to over a metre in height and can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains during its lifespan. 

Like the other plants listed, ragweed pollen is very lightweight so it is moved around easily in the breeze and can wreak havoc on allergy-affected immune systems, so removal from your garden is essential.

The easiest way to get rid of it is to spray clusters of it with herbicide at the beginning of the summer whilst they are still growing.

Alternatively, you can pull ragweed up by hand. Gather as much of the root as possible in a gloved hand and pull hard, and then dig up the remaining roots using a hoe to prevent regrowth.

It is incredibly difficult to remove every piece of ragweed if there is an abundance of it in your outdoor space, but removing as much as possible can decrease irritation.

Sunflowers

These beautiful plants can easily brighten your day and your garden, but they pose a problem for those with allergies.

Sunflower heads are large and the centre is filled with pollen which can be dislodged by even the smallest breeze, and the bigger they are, the more pollen they will spread.

But fear not, as sunflower enthusiasts can simply opt to plant pollen-free sunflower varieties instead.

For example, ‘Firecracker’ sunflowers are a dwarf species which grows to a height of just 90cm, which is comparatively much smaller than regular sunflowers which can grow to over six feet, but it has an orange-yellow colour to it, similar to a classic sunflower.


Buttercream, junior, and santa fe sunset sunflowers are some other great pollen-free alternatives that are also yellow in colour.

Chrysanthemums

Despite their beauty, chrysanthemums are a nightmare for hay fever sufferers.

Their air-borne pollen grains can cause serious irritation due to the concentration of pollen between multiple flowerheads.

If you have chrysanthemums in your garden, you can swap them out for roses and peonies instead, as rose pollen is too large to become air-borne and peonies are pollinated by insects rather than the wind.

Ultimately, there are plenty of plant alternatives that are safe for hay fever sufferers that are just as beautiful as the allergenic plants listed.

By Brian Davenport, Co-Founder of The Solar Centre

Fishing and feasting with Paul Whitehouse and GetYourGuide