25 Best Flowering Plants for Allergy Sufferers

Small pink roses and buds on thin stems closeup

The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Hay fever season can turn allergy sufferers into plant haters. While it is true that many flowers, especially those in the Aster (Asteraceae) family and those that are pollinated by the wind, can bring on an onslaught of symptoms, there are still many flowers that should not cause you any sniffles. Some of the most fragrant garden plants are not allergens at all. Flowers like camellias, lilies, and roses, do not have pollen that is dispersed by the wind, and they generally do not affect people with hay fever. Of course, there are more and more garden plants that are mainly grown for their foliage. With the flowers removed, these plants will not offend anyone.

Here are 25 good choices that can be enjoyed by most allergy sufferers.

Tip

Some highly fragrant flowers that do not aggravate allergies can still be irritants with their potent scents. In close quarters, they can cause headaches and nausea and may be best enjoyed outdoors and not brought inside. These include gardenia, hyacinth, jasmine, and lilacs. (Many of the French hybrid lilacs and the white or yellow varieties are not as highly scented and should not irritate.)

  • 01 of 25

    Azalea (Rhododendron spp.)

    Azalea shrub with bright pink riffled flowers closeup

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Azaleas are woody shrubs that are dependent on insects for pollination. Azaleas rarely release their pollen to the wind. These spring-blooming shrubs are among the best flowering shrubs for allergy sufferers, but all parts of azalea plants are poisonous to humans, and that includes their pollen. It wouldn't be wise to sniff an azalea bloom too closely.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

    Color Varieties: White, pink, red, orange

    Sun Exposure: Part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, acidic, well-drained soil

  • 02 of 25

    Begonia (Begonia Groups)

    Begonia flowers with light orange petals in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Thank goodness begonias tend to shed little pollen since these free-flowering plants are in just about every shady garden. There are many hundreds of different begonias categorized into several groups. All popular types of begonias—including rex, tuberous, rhizomatous, or semperflorens—are safe bets for allergy sufferers.

    USDA Growing Zones: 2–11 (most are grown as annuals)

    Color Varieties: Pink, red, orange, white, yellow, bicolors

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade (depends on type)

    Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil

  • 03 of 25

    Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea Group)

    Bougainvillea
    Christopher John Imperial / EyeEm / Getty Images

    The beautiful "flowers" of the bougainvillea plant are actually specialized leaves called bracts that surround the flowers. The true tiny, tubular white flowers are inside the colorful bracts and produce very little pollen.

    The Bouganvillea genus contains about 14 species. The plants cultivated for the garden are hybrid crosses of various species and their cultivars.

    USDA Growing Zones: 9–11 (often grown as annuals)

    Color Varieties: Pink, purple, red, yellow

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained

  • 04 of 25

    Cactus (Various spp.)

    Cactus plant with flat rounded leaves and orange and red flowers blooming in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    You might not think of cactus plants as having flowers, but they do. Most cacti require cross-pollination from another cactus plant to produce viable seed, but they do not rely on the wind to disperse it. Insects and birds take care of that for them.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4–11 (depends on species)

    Color Varieties: White, pink, yellow, purple (depends on species)

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Dry, gritty, well-drained soil

    Continue to 5 of 25 below.
  • 05 of 25

    Camellia (Camellia spp.)

    Camellia plant with round light pink flowers on branches closeup

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Camellias have a fragrance as lovely as their flowers. You might suspect them of being allergy-inducing plants, but camellias have "perfect" flowers, meaning they have both the male and female reproductive organs on the same flower. So their pollen does not have to travel far for pollination.

    USDA Growing Zones: 7–9

    Color Varieties: White, pink, red, yellow, or lavender

    Sun Exposure: Part shade

    Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained, rich soil

  • 06 of 25

    Clematis (Clematis spp. and Hybrids)

    Clemantis vines with white star-like flowers clustered together

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Most Clematis vines do not irritate people with hay fever, except for the North American native Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana) and Sweet Autumn (Clematis terniflora).

    In addition the vine forms, there are also low-growing clematis that have a shrublike growth habit.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–9 (depends on species)

    Color Varieties: White, blue, violet, red, yellow

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Fertile, well-drained soil

  • 07 of 25

    Coleus (Coleus spp.)

    Coleus plant with red and yellow mixed leaves clustered together

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Coleus plants add so much color to the garden with their leaves that most gardeners pinch off the flowers before Coleus plants bloom. This will give you a thicker, lusher plant and no allergy trigger. Coleus plants are easy to propagate through stem cuttings.

    USDA Growing Zones: 10–11 (usually grown as annuals)

    Color Varieties: Foliage colors include mixes of green red, orange, yellow; the white or blue flowers are not showy

    Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, well-draining soil

  • 08 of 25

    Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)

    Columbine plant with thin stems and red flowers with brush-like stamens hanging

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Although the brush-like stamens of the columbine flower look like they could explode with pollen, these plants rely on nectar-loving birds and insects who dive into their flipped back spurs in search of sweet nectar, to brush up against their stamens and carry the pollen to the pistil for pollination.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–8

    Color Varieties: White, pink, red, blue, yellow (depends on species)

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-drained soil

    Continue to 9 of 25 below.
  • 09 of 25

    Geranium (Pelargonium spp.)

    Geranium plant with small purple flowers surrounded by leaves in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Geraniums (Pelargonium spp.) give off very little pollen. Scientists have even developed a pollen-free geranium. Geraniums may not cause sneezing, but some people do get skin irritation from touching the leaves.

    USDA Growing Zones: 9–11 (grown as annuals everywhere)

    Color Varieties: White, red, pink, violet, magenta, salmon, bicolors

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Rich, medium-moisture, well-drained soil

  • 10 of 25

    Hibiscus (Hibisus spp. and Hybrids)

    Hibiscus plant with large red flower with long stamen next to buds closeup

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Hibiscus flowers produce very heavy pollen, which is not airborne. However, people with hay fever should use caution drinking hibiscus tea, which is made with the flowers and can still contain pollen.

    In warmer zones, gardeners can grow tropical species of hibiscus, but there are also hardy hibiscus species that can be grown as far north as zone 4.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 11

    Color Varieties: White, red, pink, orange, yellow, peach, purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Moist but well-drained soil

  • 11 of 25

    Hosta (Hosta spp.)

    Hosta plant with blue-green ribbed leaves stacked on each other

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Hosta plants are workhorses in the garden. Gardeners love them because they require so little care. Since Hosta flowers are usually cut off before they bloom, there is no problem with allergies.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–9

    Color Varieties: Foliage colors range from yellow to blue-green

    Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil

  • 12 of 25

    Hydrangea (Hydrangea spp.)

    Hydrangea plant with small white flower clusters

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Hydrangeas are still being studied for their relationship to allergies. Most hydrangeas are not irritants, especially modern cultivars. However sensitive people might want to avoid 'Pee Gee' hydrangeas and 'Oak Leaf' hydrangeas.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

    Color Varieties: White, blue, green, red, pink, purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, well-drained soil

    Continue to 13 of 25 below.
  • 13 of 25

    Impatiens (Impatiens spp.)

    Impatiens plant with dark green leaves surrounding bright pink flowers

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    The pollen particles of Impatiens plants are large and sticky: perfect for visiting insects to carry to the next flower but too heavy to be picked up by the wind. The common impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) nearly vanished for several years due to a large-scale infestation of downy mildew, but disease-resistant varieties are now available for this long-time favorite.

    USDA Growing Zones: 10–11 (grown as annuals elsewhere)

    Color Varieties: White, red, pink, violet, coral, purple, and yellow

    Sun Exposure: Part shade to full shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, well-draining soil

  • 14 of 25

    Bearded Iris (Iris spp.)

    Bearded iris flowers with white ruffled petals on thin stems in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Iris do not depend on the wind for pollination. The sloping sepals of the iris flower are perfectly designed to lure bumblebees deep inside the flower, where they feast on nectar while rubbing up against the sticky pollen to carry off to the next flower.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–9

    Color Varieties: White, yellow, lavender, orange, blue, bicolors

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Any average, well-draining soil

  • 15 of 25

    Lilies (Lilium spp.)

    Red and yellow lily flowers with dew on petals closeup

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    While lilies have a good amount of pollen, it is very easy to remove the stamens and the pollen-laden anthers with them. Be careful, because the yellow pollen can stain clothes and fingers. Even worse, the stems can exude a sap that causes skin irritation in sensitive people.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–10

    Color Varieties: White, yellow, orange, red, salmon, purple, bicolors

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-draining soil

  • 16 of 25

    Orchid (Orchidaceae family)

    Phalaenopsis cultivar, Moth orchid
    Maria Mosolova / Getty Images

    Orchid pollen does not often trigger allergic reactions, although some very sensitive people may experience hay fever, especially if the plant is indoors. More likely, skin irritations from the sap some orchids exude can occur if you are allergic.

    USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; most are grown as houseplants

    Color Varieties: White, pink, yellow, lavender, purple

    Sun Exposure: Varies by species; most prefer indirect light

    Soil Needs: Varies by species; many are air plants

    Continue to 17 of 25 below.
  • 17 of 25

    Petunia (Petunia spp.)

    Purple Wave Petunia
    Ron Evans / Getty Images

    Petunias give off a faint scent that becomes much more pronounced when the plants are grown en masse. However, petunia pollen is not considered an allergen.

    USDA Growing Zones: 10–11; grown as annuals everywhere

    Color Varieties: Pink, purple, yellow, red, orange, green, white

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Moist, well-drained soil

  • 18 of 25

    Phlox (Phlox. subulata, P. paniculata)

    Phlox plant with bright pink flowers surrounded by blade-like leaves in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Phlox pollen is not airborne, and the plants are often suggested as an alternative to mums. Two species of phlox are most common as garden plants: Phlox subulata (creeping phlox) and P. paniculata (tall garden phlox). Both are kind to allergy sufferers.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

    Color Varieties: White, pink, lavender, purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Medium-moisture, well-drained soil

  • 19 of 25

    Roses (Rosa spp. and Hybrids)

    White roses with ruffled petals on thin stem in garden

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Although rose pollen can be airborne, most roses do not trigger hay fever. Roses with dense petals—generally hybrid forms—release less pollen than single flowers. The worst culprits seem to be wild species roses.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4–9

    Color Varieties: Pink, yellow, white, orange, red, green, purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Well-drained loamy soil

  • 20 of 25

    Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)

    Snapdragon plant with a tall stem with bright pink flowers on bottom and buds on top in garden

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Snapdragons are a great choice for both spring and fall gardens. The snapped-shut flower that bees love to squeeze their way inside of tends to keep its pollen contained. Tall and short varieties of snapdragons are both available, and these plants will freely self-seed to establish returning colonies of flowers.

    USDA Growing Zones: 7–11 (grown as annuals everywhere)

    Color Varieties: White, yellow, pink, red, orange, peach, purple

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining soil

    Continue to 21 of 25 below.
  • 21 of 25

    Spring Bulbs (Various spp.)

    Spring bulb with yellow daffodil flowers surrounded by blade-like leaves in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Most spring bulbs are self-pollinating. Although their pollen can become airborne, the flowers tend to be very low in pollen. This includes some of the most popular spring bloomers, including crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips.

    USDA Growing Zones: 3–8 (depends on species)

    Color Varieties: All colors; depends on species

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Depends on species; most prefer moist but well-draining soil

  • 22 of 25

    Sea Thrift (Ameria maritima)

    Sea thrift (Armeria maritima)
    Martin Siepmann / Getty Images

    The cheery globes of sea thrift's pink or white flowers rely on bees for pollination and should not cause hay fever sufferers any distress. Sea thrift thrives in poor soils, and root clumps will rot in the center if planted in perpetually moist soil. Deadheading the spent flowers will encourage further blooms.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4–8

    Color Varieties: Pink to white

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Dry, well-drained soil

  • 23 of 25

    Verbena (Verbena x hybrida)

    Verbena plant with small pink flower clusters on thin stems closeup

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    Verbena plants are suggested for attracting more pollinators to your garden. Although they are rich in nectar and pollen, the pollen of verbena does not travel on the wind and should not affect people with hay fever. Potted verbenas can be brought indoors to overwinter as houseplants.

    USDA Growing Zones: 9–11 (generally grown as annuals)

    Color Varieties: White, red, purple, pink, peach (depends on variety)

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil

  • 24 of 25

    Viola and Pansy (Viola spp. and Hybrids)

    Viola and pansy flowers with purple petals and white and pink petals in sunlight

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

    The thick, sticky pollen of members of the various violas, including pansies, is too heavy to be caught up in the wind. Thus, these plants do not contribute to hay fever.

    USDA Growing Zones: 4–8

    Color Varieties: Light to deep violet, white, blue, yellow, cream, and multi-colors

    Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

    Soil Needs: Rich, moist, well-draining soil

    Continue to 25 of 25 below.
  • 25 of 25

    Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

    Zinnias

    The Spruce / Marie Iannotti

    Although zinnias are part of the Aster genus that contains many species that trigger hay fever, the newer hybrid zinnias do not appear to cause problems for most people. There are many heights and flower shapes of zinnia available. Zinnias will readily self-seed in the garden.

    USDA Growing Zones: 9–11; often grown as annuals

    Color Varieties: Pink, purple, yellow, orange, lavender, white, red, and green

    Sun Exposure: Full sun

    Soil Needs: Any well-draining soil

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Klein-Schwartz, W, and T Litovitz. Azalea Toxicity: An Overrated Problem? Journal of Toxicology. Clinical Toxicology vol. 23,2-3 (1985): 91-101. doi:10.3109/15563658508990620

  2. Pelargonium. North Carolina State Extension.

  3. Avenel-Audran, M. et al. Allergic Contact Dermatitis From Hydrangea - Is It So RareContact Dermatitis, vol 43, no. 4, 2000, pp. 189-191. Wiley, doi:10.1034/j.1600-0536.2000.043004189.x

  4. Toxic Plants. University of California.