Creating the Allergy-Friendly Garden
The Ogren Plant Allergy Scale** (OPALS) assigns plants a rating from 1 to 10, with 1 being best for allergies and 10 being worst. The following all fall in the 1- 2 range, except where noted.
Trees including maple, birch, alder, ash, elm, chestnut, oak and poplar are often pegged as allergy foes. But it’s the male plants that distribute the pollen; female versions of almost all of these trees are safe.
Allergy-Friendly Plants to Look For
BOTANICAL NAME /COMMON NAME
- Lathyrus odoratus – Sweet pea
- Thunbergia alata – Black-eyed Susan vine
- Catharanthus roseus – Periwinkle
- Coleus blumei – Coleus
- Digitalis – Foxglove
- Impatiens – Impatiens
- Myosotis – Forget-me-nots
- Nierembergia – Cup flower
- Petunia – Petunia
- Viola – Johnny jump up, pansy, violet
- Brodiaea – Dlephant’s ears
- Crocus – Spring-flowering crocus
- Cyclamen – Cyclamen
- Galanthus – Snowdrops
- Gladiolus – Gladiolus
- Hyacinth – Hyacinth (numerous varieties)
- Gentiana – Gentian
- Geranium – True geranium, cranesbill
- Hemerocallis – Day lily
- Hosta – Hosta, plantain lily
- Peony – Peony
- Physalis – Chinese lantern
- Polemonium – Jacob’s ladder
- Rhodedendron* – Azalea, rhododendron
- Sempervivum – Hens and chicks
- Fucshia – Fucshia
- Hydrangea grandiflora – Big leaf hydrangea
- Dianthus – Carnation, pinks
- Papaver – Poppy
- Begonia* – Fibrous or tuberous begonia
- Rosa – Rose (numerous varieties)
- Phlox* – Phlox
*Rated 3 or 4. Use sparingly.
** See The Allergy-Fighting Garden by Thomas Leo Ogren, a great book on this topic.
Next Page: Allergy Plants to Avoid
The Ogren Plant Allergy Scale (OPALS) assigns plants a rating from 1 to 10, with 1 being best for allergies and 10 being worst. The following plants were rated 6 or above by Ogren (except where noted), and should be avoided.
Allergy Plants to Avoid
Botanical Name / Common Name
- Amaranthus caudatus – love lies bleeding, tassel flower
- Chrysanthemum – chrysanthemum, daisy (numerous varieties)
- Hydrangea paniculata & querciflora – pee-gee and oak leaf hydrangea
- Thalictrum – buttercup
- Aster – aster
- Daucus carota – Queen Anne’s lace, wild carrot
- Carex – sedge
- Hedera – ivy
- Artemesia – wormwood, tarragon
- Doronicum – leopard’s bane
- Alyssum – alyssum
- Leontopodium alpinium – edelweiss
- Ligustrum – privet hedge
- Tanacetum – tansy, painted daisy
- Cryptomeria japonica – Japanese cedar
- Celosia – cockscomb
- Echinacea purpurea* – purple coneflower
- Syringa – lilac
- Matthiola – stocks
- Lavendula – lavender
* Rated 5. Use sparingly.
- Outdoor Allergies Resource Hub – a compilation of our best.
- Hay Fever Handbook – all you’ll need to cope.
- Trees that Make You Sneeze
- Stinging Insect Allergies – when is it a serious reaction?
- The Sneeze-Free Garden (page 1) – Plants to look for
Originally published in Allergic Living magazine.
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