Flowers that make your head hurt.
Trees that bother your nose. Stay away from these beauties. Flowers that reduce allergy reactions.
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 sunflowers.
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 zinnia!!
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 problems.
Gardening Classes sure to make you a better gardener
March 3 - Watters' Raptor Birding Experience – Bring the kids because we will be flying eagles, owls, and falcons throughout the greenhouses. Lots of photo opportunities, but bring your own chair as this class is really popular. 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.
March 10 - Fragrant & Vibrant Mountain Roses – We believe in roses that smell like a rose! 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 and disease and pest free while keeping them blooming all season long. Bring your notepads and questions for Watters’ Garden Experts.
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.
March 24 – Trees of Spring
Spectacular blooming trees are the talk of the town every spring in northern Arizona! You will be an expert on the best ornamental bloomers for our mountain climate. Learn which trees are fast-growing, give the best shade, and are the most low maintenance varieties. Watters’ garden experts will give you the scoop on all their local favorites, and how you can pick the best trees to fit your space and your style in your home landscape.
March 31 – Advanced Container Design
The right container with the right plants can bring a space in the landscape from so-so to stunning. Lisa Lain, owner of Watters Garden Center, has been creating container designs for decades. Her 3-step program puts the floral style back into your garden. The class is free to onlookers, but the first 12 students to sign up can create their own design with Lisa’s professional guidance for a $35 fee (pots provided). Come ready to get your hands dirty and your containers beautified!
Open this link to see all of Watters classes this spring.
Until next issue, I'll be helping locals with fruit trees 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 WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter http://shop.monrovia.com/watters