Reconsidering what type of flowers to plant may make gardening more enjoyable for people with allergies, according to a May 1, 2003, news release from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. More than 35 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis, which is caused by airborne pollens and mold spores. Symptoms include sneezing, congestion, runny nose, and itchiness in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes, and ears. Some plants produce higher levels of pollen than others, thus producing greater allergic reactions.
Gardening guidelines from the Academy include using plants that are native to the area because they require less effort from the gardener and do not require fertilizers or pesticides and planting bright, showy flowers. These flowers have large pollen because they are pollinated by insects; therefore, the pollen seldom is airborne. Tips to help lessen the effects of allergic rhinitis include
* using antihistamines or nasal sprays before gardening outdoors;
* washing clothes and hair to remove pollen after gardening;
* gardening on days when the pollen count is low or the day is cool, cloudy, and less windy;
* using black plastic as mulch instead of straw;
* wearing gloves, goggles, and respiratory masks when gardening; and
* not touching one's face and eyes while working outdoors.