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The Pollen Section

Top 10 Flowers for Allergy-Free Gardening

Our 10 Garden Greats

If years of sniffles, bloodshot, itchy eyes and even wheezing have made paving over the back garden seem an appealing notion, do not despair.

These gorgeous flowers are just what the horticulturalist ordered. Many of them propagate with seeds, while those that do make pollen create the kind that does not find its way into your nose and throat.

Rather, they produce heavy, sticky pollen, employing insects or hummingbirds – instead of the wind – to do the pollinating.

A garden full of bright, bold blooms, butterflies and hummingbirds, and all without setting off the allergies? Sounds like a bit of paradise, sans pavement.

1. Prized by gardeners due to their beauty both on the stem and in a vase, Peonies (Paeonia; shown) come in a dizzying number of varieties. All are good for allergies, but double-flowering (P. officinalis) and Japanese (P. japonica) are the best. Perennial, spring/summer blooms, hardiness varies by type.

2. Hydrangea shrubs boast big, cascading flower heads in pink, blue, white and purple hues. Look for Bigleaf or Florist’s (Hydrangea macrophylla) and the common Smooth Hydrangea (H. arborescens), which are safer bets in northern climes than the Pee Gee (H. paniculata ‘Grandiflora’) or the Oak Leaf (H. querciflora) forms. Perennial, summer blooms, hardiness zones 3 to 8.

3. Butterflies flock to the Black-Eyed Susan Vine (Thunbergia alata), attracted by its bright yellow flowers with purple-chocolate-colored centers. It can be invasive, so plant this creeper in a contained area with a trellis for support. Annual grown from seeds, spring/summer/ early fall blooms, hardiness zones 2 to 9.

4. Even those with no green thumb at all can grow Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), aka Busy Lizzie. A fast grower that is suited to a multitude of uses, from borders to baskets, these pretty little flowers brighten up any garden and come in a wide range of colours, including shades of pink, red, orange and – for a calming effect – white. Annual, late spring to early fall blooms, all hardiness zones.

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Allergic Living acknowledges the assistance of the OMDC Magazine Fund, an initative of the Ontario Media Development Cooperation.