Annuals are mainly grown for their flowers as garden colour or cut flowers. Pollen from flowers is a major allergen so if you suffer from an allergy like hay fever it is wise to consider looking for low or no allergen flowering plants for your garden.
I have suffered from hay fever since I was a kid. As a country boy I was introduced to the allergy while carting hay on my uncles property. Over the years I have come to know the types of plants that cause the allergy to flare up as well as those that have no effect on it at all. I have also noticed some heavily pollinated flowers that for one reason or another do not affect my hay fever while others that I would expect to be low allergen have made the condition worse.
Despite my hay fever I established a career in the Horticultural industry working around both high and low allergen flowers.
Some of the flowers I have found to be low allergen include:
Opium Poppy (Papaver somniferum)
Poppies like a soil that is highly fertile and free draining with a full sun aspect. Organic mulches can be added to the soil with compost, vermicast and animal manures to increase soil fertility. Poppies are traditionally Summer flowering though will still flower into Autumn. The foliage is a bluey-green colour with flowers in shades of red, pink purple and white. Single or double flowered varieties can be solid or variegated. Poppies often grow to greater than 1 metre in height.
Lobelia (Lobelia erinus)
Lobelias do not need a lot of water but should not be allowed to dry out either. A Summer growing annual with flowers in shades of blue, white, pink and mauve. Blue is the most common colour in most gardens. These low allergy plants are good bedding options and grow well in pots as well as being commonly grown in borders. Lobelias are low growing reaching a height of around 20cm.
Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)
Begonias are Perennials but usually treated as annuals. Aside from African Violets, these Begonias are my favourite plant. Begonias love an organically fertile soil in Full sun or Part shade. Begonias work well as border plants, in beds or in pots. Begonias are well adapted to growing indoors, their low allergen grouping makes them ideal for this environment. The season of interest for Begonias is Summer.
Impatiens (Impatiens – Annual species)
Impatiens are worth a mention. These hardy annuals grow to a height of up to 1.5 metres. Impatiens like a Part shade aspect with the season of interest being Summer.
Eric J. Smith is a qualified Horticulturalist and Permaculturalist. Eric is the Administrator for Permaculture Connect and operates a Permaculture Design and Consultancy Service at Permaculture Lifestyle.