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Best FlowersFor Hay Fever

Can you feel a sneeze brewing, are the eyes starting to itch? We’re afraid to say, for many, it’s the dreaded time of year when hay fever strikes! While most of us are enjoying the warmer days and sitting outside in the sunshine, plenty are heading indoors trying to relieve hey fever symptoms.

If this is you, you’re not alone. A recent report by Allergy UK and Kleenex) found that an astonishing 49% of us have reported suffering from hay fever symptoms. If you’re one of this number, or know someone who is, read on!

We’ve teamed up with an expert from Breaze Health to explain all about hay fever and how to relieve hay fever symptoms. Spoiler alert: you can still enjoy flowers! It’s all about knowing which ones to pop into your vase and the ones to run away from.

What is hay fever?

Hay fever is said to affect up to one in five people at some point in their lives and is caused by allergens in the air. When a hay fever sufferer comes into contact with certain allergens, it results in their immune system overreacting. Their body realises it has to do something and releases histamines and other chemicals. It is these histamines and chemicals which cause the symptoms that we associate with hay fever such as sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes.

The triggers for hay fever tend to fall into two categories. The first are perennial which means you can be affected by them all year round and are typically triggered by house dust mites, mould spores and even your own pet.

The second, and the one most of us recognise, are seasonal which are triggered by pollen. Pollen is found in a lot of plants and is released from the male part of a flower or from a male cone. The pollen contains a protein which is great for making new plants but really bad for setting off allergies.

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When is hay fever season?

Most of us think that hay fever sufferers are struck down all over the spring and summer months. However, you may find you’re only affected a certain times of the years and it’s all down to what type of pollen triggers your symptoms.

Have a look at our guide below and find out which pollen could be causing your itchy eyes and runny nose. You can also find more information on the different allergens on Breaze Health’s blog.

Spring

Pollen in spring

  • Tree pollen such as the blossom found on hazel or birch kicks off the main hay fever season with pollen in full swing from March until May.

  • Grass pollen, oilseed rape and weed pollen can also start to make your eyes itch!

Summer_2

Pollen in summer

  • Tree pollen has finished.

  • Oilseed rape finishes in June.

  • Grass pollen season is in full swing. It also has two waves, the first in June and the second in July (luckily this one isn’t as bad).

  • Weed pollen is still going strong.

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Pollen in autumn

  • Grass pollen can still be around but doesn’t tend to be quite as bad.

  • Weed pollen is still around.

Winter

Pollen in winter

  • Pollen levels are at their lowest although tree pollen can still set off your hay fever.

You should also bear in mind that timescales will vary depending on where you live in the country. For example, in the North of the UK, the season starts later and is much shorter. Big cities and towns will also have a lower pollen count when compared to the countryside and coastal areas are better than inland. Climate change is also having a big impact and experts have suggested that our warmer weather could see symptoms start much earlier in the year, especially for grass and tree pollen.

Best flowers for hay fever sufferers

If you suffer from hay fever, or you know someone who does, it seems obvious to avoid flowers but we’re very glad to say, you’re wrong! If you love having a home filled with blooms, there are some firm favourites to pop in your vase.

First, let’s talk about the science behind friendly hay fever flowers. Pretty much all blooms produce pollen, which can trigger hay fever, but it’s how they distribute it that makes the difference. The ones you need to go for are the plants with sticky and heavy pollen. Instead of using the wind to spread their pollen into the air, they prefer to attract pollinators and let them do the job. Great news for your hay fever and even better for the bees who rely on the pollen!

The development of the flower type also makes a difference. Blooms that are hybrid varieties (where you mix species to create new ones) typically produce less or no pollen. Luckily for you, these hypoallergenic flowers also tend to be some of the most gorgeous varieties around – great for one of your senses, sight!

Roses

Roses

Roses are one of the most-loved flowers and they can also be enjoyed by hay fever sufferers. Although these blooms do release pollen into the air, it’s in small quantities, which probably has a lot to do with the fact that roses have been hybridised over the years. Although we recommend avoiding the wild species of these flowers which have not been hybridised as much. If you want to be extra careful, go for the double varieties with lots of overlapping petals as the pollen struggles to escape.

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Tulips

If you’re looking for a splash of colour after the dark winter months, then tulips would have to be your first choice. From blooms in zingy orange, warming red, sunshine yellow and even royal purple, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Although the pollen in tulips can become airborne, they tend to have a low pollen count and what they do have is heavy and won’t get blown far from the stems.

Alstromeria

Alstroemeria

If you love the look of lilies but can’t stand how they affect your hay fever, a good alternative may be the stunning alstroemeria. These flowers don’t release much pollen but with their distinctive markings and open petals they have all the looks of a miniature lily.

Carnations

Carnations

A firm favourite in any bouquet, carnations are another ideal hypoallergenic flowers. As one of the oldest cultivated flowers (around 2,000 years), these flowers are not known to trigger allergies. Even better, they can deliver it all. They last a long time in your vase and there is a wide selection of varieties to choose from - with multi-coloured, single or double blooms, single or spray and even dwarf!

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Peonies

A bit like the first flower on this list, peonies are a UK favourite, and they can also be the perfect choice for hay fever sufferers too – yay! It’s all down to the fact that peonies have sticky pollen and rely on our insect friends to pollinate their flowers. Just remember to grab them quick because they only bloom in May and June!

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

With their fluffy blooms, these flowers look fabulous filling out your vase. With such a large flower head, you’d easily think that hydrangeas would be packed full of hay fever-inducing pollen. However, like our favourite peonies, these blooms have a sticky pollen which relies on insets to help spread the pollen.

Snapdragons

Snapdragons (Antirrhinums)

If you’re looking to create a statement in your bouquet and add different heights of blooms, you can’t go far wrong with some snapdragons. Each stem sits tall in your and features a mass of petals. Fortunately, at least for hay fever sufferers, the blooms don’t open too widely which helps contain the pollen. Not such good news for the bees who have to work hard to extract all the lovely goodies!

Flowers and plants hay fever sufferers should avoid

Now for the flowers you must avoid. Most of the flowers in this group are the ones with light pollen which they can shake off in the breeze and let the wind carry far and wide. As a general rule, it is advisable to avoid anything with a heavy scent (looking at you, lilies). However, be careful as a bloom without a scent does not always equate to one that will work for you.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

With their large, happy blooms, sunflowers are the ultimate statement of summer. With little scent, you would think these would be the perfect choice for a hay fever sufferer but don’t be fooled. In fact, it is the sheer size of their flower head that causes all the problems – they are packed full of pollen. Plus, the larger the sunflower head, the more pollen you’ll get!

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Lilies

You only need to walk in the vague vicinity of a vase full of lilies to know they are packed full of scent. This powerful smell also holds a load of pollen - bad news for hay fever sufferers. However, if you do love these flowers, it is possible to reduce the problems by cutting out the central stamen where the pollen is held. Just be careful when doing this job because it will stain everything it touches.

Gerberas

Gerberas

If, as a hay fever sufferer you’re looking to avoid trouble, then the Asteraceae family of plants are the ones to be wary of. Most of the blooms in this group are problematic for hay fever sufferers including gerberas. Their wide range of colours make them a perfect choice for brightening up any container, garden or vase but unfortunately, the vivid beauty of these flowers also comes packaged with a whole lot of pollen.

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Chrysanthemums

Remember how we said the Asteraceae family cause trouble? Unfortunately, the group also includes our next flower, the autumnal favourite - chrysanthemums. With their incredible range of colours and flower shapes, these are a popular choice when looking to bring a splash to your garden in September and October. The problem is, their high pollen count makes them likely candidates for triggering your hay fever.

Top Tips For Managing Hay fever

If you’re looking to find a way to ease your hay fever symptoms, we can try and help you out. Unfortunately, there is no ‘cure’ for hay fever, but we spoke to Sam Fells, an expert in natural support for hay fever and producer of Breaze Hay Fever & Sleep support products, for a few tips and hints.

Tip 1: Get drinking – staying hydrated can lessen the intensity of hay fever symptoms.

Tip 2: Call on the help of bee and treat yourself to a spoonful of local honey each day.

Tip 3: Enjoy a cuppa, just make sure its camomile which is known to relieve the symptoms although cold tea bags can help soothe puffy eyes!

Tip 4: Wash it away! As soon as you come in from the outside, change out of your clothes - the pollen might be stuck to them. You should also shower and wash your hair at night. You could also try tumble drying your clothes or drying inside – pollen can collect on them if line-dried outside.

Tip 5: The essential mix! Essential oils like lavender, camomile, clove leaf, eucalyptus and lemon have been shown in studies to ease breathing and help you sleep better.

Head over to their website for information non easing hay fever symptoms.

Hopefully we have provided some help if you know something suffering badly with hay fever. Don’t forget, you can always cheer them up with a big bunch of our hypoallergenic flowers.