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Traditional Mothers Day Flower Gifts for the Mom with Allergies

Roses make great gifts for those with allergies.

     Flowers always make great gifts for Mothers Day, right?  The traditional roses, carnations, daisies, lilies, azaleas, rhododendrons...and the list goes on and on.  Except when your mother has allergies, specifically pollen allergies.  In that case you might want to stay away from certain varieties of flowers heavily laden with pollen.  Fortunately, this list is fairly short and only includes varieties from a few well known families of flowers. Although, certain heavily scented varieties can trigger an allergic reaction as well.

    A flower is usually insect-pollinated as opposed to a tree, grass, or weed which is usually wind-pollinated. Small, drab, inconspicuous flowers with little color, like those found on weeds, tend to be the culprit of an allergic response. Their pollen is smaller and lightweight making it easily carried by the wind.

     Orchids are an all time favorite of gift recipients.  Their pollen consists of a compacted mass of pollen grains coated in wax forming a pollinia and is not released into the air.  Roses are another favorite.  When giving rosebuds the pollen cannot be released.  When the buds open the pollen found inside is large and heavy preventing it from being released into the air.

     When looking for flowers, search for those with lots of petals and no visible centers.  Hybridized double chrysanthemums, begonias, hydrangeas, azaleas, asters, dahlias, gladiolas, irises, cyclamens, and double peonies all have little to no pollen.  Of course, cacti and succulents are good choices.

     Daisies including the gerbera daisy, single chrysanthemums, lilies, sunflowers, zinnia, jasmine, honeysuckle, and pussy willows are some to stay away from. They all contain lightweight pollen which easily becomes airborne.  Giant sunflowers to be planted outdoors are fine because they have large, heavy pollen that is not easily airborne.  Lilies can be made allergy free simply by removing the brown or yellow pollen-bearing anthers at the tip of each of the six stamens.  Calla lilies and other deep-throated flowers make excellent choices both for their beauty as well as the fact that the pollen producing parts of the flower are deeply embedded within the bloom.

The deep-throated calla lily with its deeply embedded pollen stamens makes an excellent choice for those with allergies .

     Some people are even allergic to heavily scented flowers.  This can happen from a sensitivity to the natural chemicals produced by the plant.  It is very rare to be allergic to this, but it does occur.  Climbing roses tend to have a heavier fragrance than other roses.  Another thing to beware of are flowers enhanced with artificial fragrance in grocery stores or even at some florists.  The artificial chemicals used in the fragrance enhancers can trigger allergy attacks.

     It is a myth that goldenrod is an allergy trigger.  Welcomed as a flower by some and a weed by others, it produces a heavy, sticky pollen.  This brightly colored, yellow flowering plant is entomophilous (animal or insect-pollinated) and is not likely to cause allergies.  It got it's bad rap due to the fact that it blooms in the wild at the same time as ragweed.  It serves us well as an alert to ragweed season. 

     Pot mums make great Mothers Day gifts for both indoors and outdoors.  Outdoors they provide beauty and color while indoors they clean the air of formaldehyde.  See the article Breathe Easier: Buy a Houseplant and Clean the Air. For those with allergies, pot mums are also available in double petal varieties which prevents the pollen from becoming airborne.  

Colorful pot mum plants provide color and beauty while helping to clean indoor air of formaldehyde.

     From a single flower rose or carnation, to a giant bouquet, or a grand potted plant, it's good to know their are still plenty of choices to be made even for those with allergies.  This Mother's Day the allergic  mother will be grateful you cared enough to research and seek out the appropriate flower or arrangement for her. Nowadays, some florists even offer sneeze-free bouquets.  All you have to do is ask.

     It's up to you to decide.  The beauty of a particular flower might far outweigh the occasional sneeze or two.



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