At certain times of the year, allergies are at their worst here in New England and many suffer from ailments such as running nose, watery eyes, scratchy throats and other unpleasant woes. Pollen from flowers, the re-sprouting of grass and re-budding of trees are only a few of the sources that cause discomfort for those inflicted by allergic reactions. I’m one of the lucky ones who aren’t affected in the slightest by seasonal changes that induce environmental changes having to do with flora and fauna.
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As florists, we should be aware of these common issues with our product and always ask customers if there are any issues they may have towards certain plants and flowers. Roses can be a big one but many designers are unaware that several other typically used species can be problematic for sensitive customers. No matter if the season is winter, fall, spring or summer, flower industry employees should be well educated in order to promote the health and happiness of our clientele. After a little research, here’s what I found to avoid for those who fall within this category.
Birch: I know this may not seem like a flower or plant (it’s a tree) but it’s used in abundance within holiday centerpieces and bouquets. Birch grows in a beautiful white covering of bark but many people are allergic to this branching and can cause serious reactions just by touching the outer skin. Try using pine as a substitution because it’s cheaper, festive and possesses a nice aromatic scent.
Goldenrod: Man- unless you want to hang a sign on your door that says “Allergy Sufferers Beware”, you might want to nix the spring bloom during May and June. It’s inexpensive and easy to find but the pollen that’s omitted from the stem and head is enough to put a person in the hospital if they’re sensitive. Try using euphorbia or another pretty yellow product that has half the pollen and just as much impact on your arrangements.
Wisteria: Wisteria is a tough one to say “no” to because its elegance can be such an asset to an event’s flower planning but if there’s a chance of making someone sick, you’re going to have to find a replacement. Wisteria is one of the worst flowers for allergies although the delicate flowers and stunning stem formation want you to put it everywhere, especially in weddings. The gorgeous white and purple blossoms can cause major reactions specifically a swelling of the throat to name one of he more serious effects.
Top Flowers to Avoid: It’s really hard to scratch off some of these beautiful flowers from your buying list when considering allergic reactions but these are some of the more serious ones to look out for. Mountain Thistle can bring about terrible irritation of the eyes if made contact with and a lily’s odor can make a person sneeze for hours. Other species to be vigilant about are roses, zinnias, pansies, petunias, crocuses, columbine, verbena and geraniums.