Tips for hay fever sufferers

Monday, 08 June 2020 | Gardener Expert
Posted in Garden Trader Blog, Gardening Advice

Tips for hay fever sufferers

Figures suggest that three in 10 people in the UK suffer from hay fever and June and July are particularly troublesome months. The upcoming grass pollen peak is predicted to affect 95% of sufferers.

You can help your symptoms by preventing pollen getting into your eyes with wraparound sunglasses and using Vaseline around your nostrils. Keep an eye on the pollen count and avoid gardening on the days when it is high, in the early morning and also when it is windy.  

There are some changes you can make in your garden too:  

  1. Dampening down grass before you cut it and keeping it short during the summer will help prevent the grass flowering and producing pollen.
  2. Whilst some of you may have started your own compost during lockdown, the moulds that are released from it can affect those with allergies. Keep it covered or consider buying it.
  3. Hedges around your garden will help you in years to come as they will be able to catch some of the pollen – you need to be careful which variety you go for though. Look for Escallonia ‘Iveyi’ for example.
  4. Choose plants that have a low OPALS (Ogren Plant Allergy Scale) rating. The scale is from 1-10 and you want to avoid anything over
  5. You might not have to be without some allergenic plants and flowers all together – by carefully positioning them away from walkways, doors and windows you can still enjoy them from a distance. They are good for wildlife too so it would be a shame to not have them in your garden.

There are also some simple swaps you can make, that won’t affect the look of your garden. has worked with Jackie Herald, an expert in low allergen gardening, to identify some:

Swap Common jasmine (Jasminum) for Star jasmine (Trachelospermum)
Trachelospermum is tolerant of shade and its perfume is less heady than common jasmine. However, it will produce more flowers and scent in a sunny spot. It’s lovely, but don’t plant too much if your outdoor space is very enclosed.

Swap single-flowered chrysanthemums for double-flowered chrysanthemums

Double flowers have less pollen than single ones. But if you have the space, planting just a few singles dotted among a sea of doubles makes a lovely contrast and will not affect the total pollen count for your garden too significantly.

Swap Love-lies-bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus) for Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)  

Buddleia blooms point up rather than hang down like the Amaranthus. But if you’re looking for a butterfly magnet with height and exuberant colour in your herbaceous border, there is a good choice of Buddleia varieties available.

Swap Bottlebrush (Callistemon) for Grevillea     

Grevillea is better for people with allergies due to its tubular flowers, as the bees have to probe inside to reach the pollen. Grevillea wafts elegantly, and the texture of its foliage makes an attractive contrast to strappy and broader leaves.

Swap Mimosa (Acacia) for Mahonia

Mahonia is very different in shape and habit but if you like vivid yellow flowers there’s a wide choice of cultivars. It’s a good source of pollen for bees in late winter, and some cultivars have a delicious scent. The berries that follow in spring are loved by blackbirds.

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