Ornamental grasses make a nice backdrop for many gardens. They also give height and texture to a garden that might otherwise be plain and boring. The one problem with ornamental grasses, however, is that they are bad to have around for people who suffer from seasonal allergies. Pampas grass is an ornamental grass that produces lots of pollen.

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White pampas grass blooms.

Identification

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Pampas grass fronds.

Pampas grass is a tall, bushy plant that looks like large blades of grass. It grows to be between 4 and 8 feet tall, depending on the exact variety you have planted. After the grass blades have grown, tall stalks will begin to emerge that contain the flower portion of the plant. The flower blooms range from white to light pink to purple and can get as big as 10 to 18 inches tall.

Causes

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Up-close look at a pampas grass frond.

People are allergic to the pampas grass because of its beautiful flowering heads. Those flowering heads have thousands of feathery ends, which are all pollen-bearing. The pollen is released in heavy doses right after the flowers have opened up from the stalks, usually early to midsummer. The weather in your region determines when the flowers will sprout. The warmer and drier the conditions are, the faster the flowers of the pampas grass will grow.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a pampas grass allergy usually are like those of any other allergy: sniffling, sneezing, coughing, itchy, watery eyes, and maybe trouble breathing. When you have trouble breathing, you should take extreme caution in case it is a severe allergy or if it triggers an asthma attack. To check if you have a severe allergy, consult with an allergist for testing.

Relief

When there is pampas grass in the garden at your home, work or school, you will have to learn to co-exist. One way to avoid the pollen-producing plant is to avoid walking by it, if possible. Check for other entrances to the building that do not sit by the pampas grass. Even walking by pampas grass can give you a case of the sneezes or worse.

Leave the windows closed as much as possible. Pollen can blow off the flowers with only a little encouragement and travel indoors, right to your nose. When the windows can't be closed all the time, try to shut them on windy days to prevent pollen from entering.

Consider wearing a mask. If you have severe allergies, pampas grass won't be the only thing affecting you. A mask will keep out pollen from different grasses, trees and flowers that are producing it at that time of year.

Prevention/Solution

There are a couple of things you can do in order to avoid fighting your allergies with pampas grass. Eliminate the pampas grass from your yard and gardens by digging it up, giving it away, or burning it. If you don't like going without grasses in the garden, you can create a low-pollen garden with other flower alternatives that produce low pollen and would work in place of pampas grass. For example, alternatives include daylilies, New Zealand flax and gypsophila. You won't have the tall grass in the background, but your nose might thank you in the long run for leaving it out.