Low-Allergy Gardens Benefit You And More
If you have a lot of pollen allergies, you know that planting a low-allergen garden can allow you to have pretty plants with a minimum of sneezy, eye-watering trouble. But there's another very good reason to look at low-allergy plants, and that's their ability to help bee and butterfly populations, which can use all the healthy food they can get. One of the key qualities to look for in a plant for a low-allergen garden is a lack of windborne pollen. These are usually plants where bees and butterflies do the pollinating. Here are some plants to look for if you'd like to help these pollinators while keeping your allergies in check.
While the clusters of blue-purple blooms look like they're easy to access, the pollen is actually enclosed in flowers that insects have to work to get into. Wind can't just pick up all the pollen and blow it away. Lavender attracts both bees and butterflies, so be careful planting it if you or a neighbor have bee allergies. But if pollen is your only concern, these fragrant flowers work very well in warmer areas.
Butterfly bush also has tubelike flowers that keep pollen rather neatly encased. These large, columnar clusters of flowers are brightly colored and work well when you want a very visible accent. The plants are also drought-tolerant and can be used to stem erosion.
If you live in an area that gets a lot of moisture and that has soil that doesn't drain as well as you'd like, these are the tubelike, pollen-enclosing flowers for you. Brightly colored petals attract butterflies, and hummingbirds like the flowers as well.
Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, and Mint
These herbs are low-allergen in terms of pollen and attract bees and butterflies. Oregano tends to attract only butterflies, and thyme, parsley, and mint are bee territory. Sage can attract both. Growing herbs can be a great way to make your garden not only low-allergy and pollinator-friendly, but also just plain practical because you can use the herbs in cooking.
Sunflowers, with their wide-open discs, aren't normally the best for allergy sufferers. But there are specially bred sterile male sunflowers that don't produce pollen. The Society for Allergy-Friendly Environmental Gardening does list them as good for pollinator gardens, however. These are not going to be good for seed production, if that's what you were hoping to do. But the flowers do look great, and given that they have no pollen, they can be a safe way for you enjoy the large blooms.
If you'd like to learn about other plant species that are low-allergy but highly attractive to pollinators, contact a landscape design company, such as Glynn Young's Landscaping & Nursery Center, that has experience setting up butterfly gardens, general pollinator gardens, and other niche gardens. There are quite a few plants out there, so no matter where in the country you live, you'll be able to have a full garden.