As recently as a few decades ago, eye doctors would send allergy patients to the Valley of the Sun for relief. As these areas became more populated, that relief disappeared. Air pollution, dust, development, and non-native planting all combine to wreak havoc on sufferers’ respiratory and eye health. One way to help manage the misery of allergies is to landscape using low allergy plants.
In general, brightly colored flowering plants are pollinated by insects and birds rather than by wind. Using plants that reproduce via creatures will help reduce airborne pollen. Some specific examples are as follows:
Succulents and Cacti
The majority of these plants types will be minimal pollen generators. Their bright blooms invite creature pollination, rather than releasing shotgun blasts of pollen into the air. Agave, yucca, prickly pear, saguaro, cholla, organ pipe and barrel cacti are all safe choices for a low-allergy garden.
Palms and Trees
A critical factor in selecting low-allergy trees is to be absolutely certain that the tree is not the pollen producing gender of its species. For example, female palms will produce fruit, whereas the males create blooms that distribute a plethora of pollen. In the interests of your respiratory and eye health you may want to consult a professional when selecting palms and trees to ensure you’ve chosen the correct gender. Most female palms will be low on the allergy scale. Other trees that are acceptable include silk and orchid trees, the female variety of pistachio, and Jujubes.
Flowering Vines and Shrubs
Bougainvillea is a beautiful grower with bright fuchsia blooms. They are plentiful in the southwest and airborne pollen is minimal with this creature-pollinated plant. Lady Banks Roses, Tombstone Roses, and Trumpet Creepers also fall into the low-allergy classification of vines. Flowering shrubs that are beneficial for a sufferer’s garden are Bird of Paradise, sage, many breeds of myrtle, and Ruellia.
In general, grasses can be one of the worst triggers for hay fever. Many non-native grasses have been imported into the southwest and result in not only a burden on irrigation but an allergy sufferer’s worst nightmare. Establish desert landscaping or plant ground cover and native grasses instead, choosing varieties like Morning Glory, Gazania, and Mexican Evening Primrose.
For those living in Arizona, your respiratory and eye health will thank you for planting sensibly. Consult a garden professional for more help selecting low-allergy varieties of plants, and enjoy the outdoors again!