Not all sniffles and sneezes come by way of the common cold. Ask any allergy sufferer what spring can mean to them.
Those fine, airborne particles of pollen that cover your sidewalk and car with their “dust” can play havoc with allergy sufferers.
According to the State-by-State Gardening Newsletter (January/February 2015), in 2013, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimated 16.9 million adults and 6.7 million children were diagnosed with allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever. Seasonal allergic rhinitis is usually caused by sensitivity to tree, grass, weed or other plant pollens.
A great reference is, Allergy-Free Gardening, by Thomas Leo Ogren (Berkeley, Ten Speed Press. 2000).
Allergy-Free Gardening explains and uses the Ogren Plant-Allergy Scale (OPALS) to help determine which plants to use or avoid for the home garden. Plants are rated from 1 to 10 with 1 being the most allergy-free and 10 the least allergy-free.
Here are some tips to consider when seeking relief.
• Select plants that are pollinated by insects instead of the wind. Plants with brightly colored, fragrant flowers attract insects and other pollinators.
• Follow basic plant anatomy for guidelines. Male flowering plants carry pollen and are best avoided. Ideal plants for sensitive people are female or “perfect” flowering plants that contain both sexes. These plants reduce the need for pollen to travel great distances to be effective.
• Check with a reliable news or weather source to get the latest pollen alerts before venturing outside. Avoid being outside between 5 am and 10 am if possible when pollen dispersion is peak time.
• Take any allergy relief medication prescribed by your doctor before going outside.
We can’t control the wind or our neighbor’s plant selection, but we can strive to make our yards and gardens friendly to allergy sufferers.
Reference: State-by-State Gardening January/February 2015. Diana M. Rankin