The plants we grow in our gardens are not always beautiful and harmless. The months from August until March can mean sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose and extreme fatigue in people who are sensitive to pollen. Others may suffer seasonal asthma, or find that their asthma becomes worse during these months.

The most significant step you can take in planning a low-allergen garden is to choose bird- or insect pollinated plants rather than wind-pollinated ones. Plants pollinated by birds and insects produce only small amounts of pollen. Many native trees and shrubs are pollinated by birds and insects.


What to avoid:

  • asteraceae family (daisies, chrysanthemums, calendulas, marigolds)
  • most introduced grasses
  • wattles
  • alder
  • ash
  • birch
  • plantains
  • coprosma
  • elm
  • liquidambar
  • maple
  • white cedar
  • oak
  • olive
  • pines
  • poplar
  • privet
  • walnut

Choosing suitable plants

Low-allergy plants include those that are pollinated by insects or birds only, or that are propagated by cuttings or grafting. Some plants you might like to try are:

Grasses and ground covers: 

  • buffalo
  • kidney weed (dichondra)
  • snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum)
  • low-growing cotoneaster
  • native violet


  • clematis
  • Chilean jasmine
  • passionfruit
  • banksia rose
  • star jasmine


  • azalea
  • rhododendron
  • camellia
  • gardenia
  • rosemary
  • bottlebrush


  • magnolia
  • sweet bay
  • citrus
  • flowering almond, apricot and cherry
  • cabbage tree


  • alyssum
  • aquilegia
  • foxglove
  • impatiens
  • lobelia
  • nasturtium
  • petunia
  • snapdragon

For a full list of suitable low-allergen plants, contact your local nursery or consult the Asthma + Respiratory Foundation NZ

More project guides & articles

Sustainable Gardening

Gardening is a great way of living sustainably. Here are some more ideas on how you can garden sustainably.

Top 10 herbs

Our guide to the must-have herbs for your kitchen garden. Herbs are life!