Allergy-Friendly Flowers

Do you avoid buying fresh-cut flowers because you worry about aggravating your allergies? Worry no more! We’ve got the facts on why many flowers are actually fine for people with allergies – especially some of the most popular blooms. With your newfound freedom to enjoy flowers, visit the end of this post for an easy tutorial on flower arrangements. Then enjoy beautifying your home with flowers (without making yourself sneeze).

Pollination type makes a difference

As you probably know, allergies to plants are caused by plant pollen. But many people don’t realize that plants have different ways of spreading their pollen – and the particular way that a plant spreads its pollen has a big impact on whether that plant will trigger allergies.

Most flowers pollinate via insects
Plants with attractive flowers – the kind you use in a flower arrangement – rely on insects to spread their pollen. Flower pollen is typically heavy and/or sticky: it is designed to stick to insects, who pick up the pollen and then drop it off on another flower. Heavy, sticky pollen is less likely to become airborne, meaning it is less likely to get in your nose or eyes and cause allergies.

Trees, grasses and weeds pollinate via wind
The plants that typically cause allergies are the ones that pollinate by wind – think trees, grasses and weeds. These plants have light, dusty pollen that is readily airborne and can lodge in your eyes, nose and throat. Wind-pollinated plants also tend to grow in large clusters, resulting in pollen explosions that cover the landscape and increase the severity of allergy symptoms.

Amounts of pollen matter
Keep in mind that some insect-pollinated flowers, like daisies, are in fact more prone to cause allergies simply because they make a lot of pollen. On the plus side, other beautiful flowers, like roses, are known to carry very little pollen.

Choosing flowers for allergy sufferers

Here are the good and the bad when it comes to allergy-friendly flowers. Pull out this list the next time your significant other uses the “allergy excuse” to not buy you flowers!

Good flowers for allergies

  • Roses
  • Carnations
  • Orchids
  • Irises
  • Peonies
  • Tulips
  • Hydrangeas
  • Pollen-free lilies – ask your florist if they have these kinds of lilies, or if they will remove the stamens of lilies for you (which will make them pollen-free)

Note that some flowers have a strong fragrance, which can be irritating to allergy sufferers though unrelated to pollen. If you want to be extra safe, choose less-fragrant blooms.

Bad flowers for allergies

  • Daisies
  • Chrysanthemums*
  • Baby’s Breath* – often used as “filler” in arrangements
  • Sunflowers
  • Lilies that are not pollen-free varieties
  • Dahlias*
  • Jasmine

* Certain varieties of these flowers aren’t allergenic – look for hybrids called “formal doubles,” which have double the amount of petals on each bloom. They carry very little pollen.

How to make a flower arrangement

Now that you know which flowers you can safely bring indoors, learn how easy it is to make beautiful flower arrangements!

Gather the following types of flowers (about 3 or 4 stems of each type):

- 3 types of larger flowers with bright blooms in complementary colors
- 1 type of smaller flower or greenery that is mainly green in color
- 1 type of medium-sized flower that is white or very light in color

  1. Trim off each flower’s stem on an angle with a sharp pair of scissors or knife.
  2. Start with your largest type of flower: in a vase of water, lean two of the largest blooms against opposite sides of the vase.
  3. Lean a third large bloom against the vase at the midpoint of the first two flowers. You will now have a “triangle” of your largest flowers.
  4. In the three gaps, place your green flowers or greenery.
  5. In the center, cluster together the other two types of bright-bloomed flowers
  6. On either side of the central cluster, place a white or lighter flower

Enjoy your beautiful flower arrangement, or gift it to a friend!

If you suffer from allergies, or simply want to ensure the air in your home is cleaner, look into air purifiers – they help capture microscopic airborne allergens, particles and odors and remove them from your air, so you can breathe with confidence.