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Ragweed allergies: Plants to avoid in your own yard

What does fall mean to you? Leaf peeping, back to school, football and often seasonal allergies. If you’re one of the millions affected by ragweed, the pollens from this weed hit you sometime between late summer and early fall.

Ragweed flower |

Photo credit: AwakenedEye/iStock/360/Getty Images

While you can’t entirely avoid this “superweed,” you can minimize its effects — starting in your own yard.

Global warming and ragweed

Global warming may not have too many supporters, but if ragweed could talk, it would be the number one cheerleader for global warming. Why? The increase in carbon dioxide that comes from the burning of fossil fuels not only feeds ragweed, but research shows CO2 is also making ragweed resistant to the insects that once munched on these pesky weeds. No munching means bigger plants, and bigger plants mean more pollen. These favorable conditions have super-sized ragweed season, which now lasts from August to November, with pollen counts at their peak in September.

The worst grass types for allergies

First, the bad news: There’s absolutely nothing you can do to avoid the billions of pollen grains that travel hundreds of miles to lodge in your nose, causing sneezing, sinus headaches and an itchy throat. On the bright side, you can greatly reduce your suffering by making sure you don’t have the following high pollen-producing plants in your yard.

  • Bermudagrass
  • Johnsongrass
  • Ryegrass
  • Alfalfa
  • Pigweed
  • Cocklebur
  • Lambs quarter
  • Ragweed
  • Russian thistle (tumbleweed)
  • Timothy grass
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Redtop grass
  • Orchard grass
  • Sweet vernal grass

Quick tip

Now that you know which plants are the worst for allergies, find out which are the best right here!

Allergy prevention

If you suffer from ragweed-induced allergy symptoms (also called hay fever or allergic rhinitis), it’s important to know the pollen counts in your area. These can be found in the local newspaper or on a weather website. Stay indoors and avoid yard work when pollen counts are highest. Remove your clothes when you get home (and put on clean ones!), and keep your home as pollen-free as possible by washing bedding and vacuuming frequently. Change your home’s air filter monthly and consider buying a HEPA air filter.

Foods to avoid

Did you know certain foods can actually make allergy symptoms worse? The proteins in ragweed pollen can cause oral allergy when they react with the proteins in certain fruits and vegetables. The body’s immune system then kicks into high gear. Be aware of how your body reacts to banana, melon (cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon), sunflower seeds, zucchini, chamomile tea, cucumber, dandelion and echinacea. If your symptoms worsen after eating these foods, consult your doctor or see an allergist.

More allergy-friendly gardening info

What to plant if you have allergies
Tree pollen allergies: Plants to avoid in your own yard
Grass allergies: Plants to avoid in your own yard

Got allergies? Plan ahead and limit exposure |

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