Valentine’s Day, for the romantics among us, is a day filled with cards, chocolates, and flowers. But if your valentine is allergic to pollen, flowers can be a risky gift. We have put together some information to help you tackle hay fever and Valentine's Day.
There are many flowers and plants that contain little to no pollen, and it is a common misunderstanding to believe that all flowers cause allergies. In fact, it is the wind-pollinated plants, like the grasses, which have small, inconspicuous flowers that are responsible for most allergies.
Pollen comes from the male part of a plant and consists of microscopic grains (typically 10 to 40 microns diameter, but some plants produce light pollen dust whose grains are less than five microns wide) and like dust millions of pollen grains travel through the air and get into the mouth, nose and lungs.
The majority of the colourful cut flowers that are often present in bouquets depend on insects for pollination. The pollen of these flowers is often so heavy that it doesn’t float around in the air. This pollen can, however, get broken up into smaller grains making it possible for them to become airborne too. It is worth bearing this in mind before buying any kind of flower.
Some people can also be allergic to the pollen of some cut flowers, like lilies, which are insect-pollinated. In some lilies, such as the Calla Lily, there is a thick stamen coated in yellow pollen. This can be pulled out (by a non-allergic person) and then the lily is safe for the allergic person to enjoy.
Other flowers that have little or no pollen are:
The Valentine’s favourite – the rose, has pollen that is often too large and heavy to become airborne, making them the ideal flower to give as a gift this Valentine’s day, but please be aware that large pollen can get broken down into airborne particles. To stay on the safe side, choose a rose that has little to no scent, flowers with less scent have less pollen.
Another great gift idea this Valentine’s is Orchards - they carry very little pollen and come in a variety of different colours and sizes.
Potted plants are also a nice idea for a gift this valentine’s, succulents and cactus are great for display both indoors and outside, and are perfect for people with allergies.
Flowers to avoid if you are allergic are:
These flowers all contain a lot of pollen. Jasmine is also a very fragrant flower and should be kept away from windows and entrances. Blossom is also one to avoid as these rely on wind pollination.
Alternatively, you could give your Valentine a beautiful bunch of artificial flowers instead, just to be safe.
Happy Valentine’s Day!