Juniper pollen hay fever / Effect of predicted drought on new landscapes
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Issue: March 15, 1999

Juniper pollen hay fever

Question:

I hate junipers! Every spring I have hay fever, and I think it is because of the junipers. Unfortunately, junipers grow well in my landscape and need little care. Is there any way to prevent them from making pollen, or is it necessary to remove all of them from my property?

Answer:

Junipers are one of the plants causing hay fever at this time of the year, and junipers are excellent landscape plants for New Mexico soils and climates. There is no good way to prevent the production of pollen other than planting only female clones of juniper. The female clones are the ones that produce the blue-gray, berry-like cones. Junipers produce male flowers (which make the pollen) on one plant and the female flowers (which make the cones) on separate plants.

If you wish to have the benefits of junipers without the problem caused by the pollen, use only the cone-bearing plants. You may want to remove any male junipers from your landscape and replace them with the female juniper plants. You can identify the male plant because it does produce a small "pollen cone" which dries soon after flowering. These can be seen as brown ends on the twigs in the early summer. During flowering, it is easy to tell which are male plants by bumping the plants and watching the cloud of irritating pollen rising from the plant. Be sure to stand upwind of the plant as you do this.

When you buy plants to replace the male junipers, if you choose other junipers, purchase plants with the cones on them. Of course, there are other plants to use, but junipers are excellent landscape plants for New Mexico, especially the female junipers!


Effect of predicted drought on new landscapes

Question:

The reports say that this is going to be a hot, dry year. I just bought a home and wanted to landscape. How will this expected drought affect my landscaping?

Answer:

I hope that the predicted drought will encourage many people to consider landscapes which use plants better adapted to our soils and climate than many of the older, traditional New Mexico landscapes. I also hope that the principles of xeriscaping will be employed. Please don't confuse a true xeriscape, which is a fully vegetated landscape, with the rockscapes which have been employed to reduce water use. These rockscapes create heat islands around homes and can greatly increase water consumption by evaporative coolers.

There are many attractive plants available in nurseries which are adapted to landscapes consuming less water. The principles of xeriscaping include the use of mulching materials to reduce water loss from the soil. They also prevent wind erosion and may reduce weed problems. Installation of efficient irrigation systems and designing the landscape to create zones of low, moderate, and high water use are also important so that all plants do not receive the highest amounts of water.

So, as you begin landscaping, consider applying the principles of xeriscape and search the nurseries for plants best adapted to New Mexico soils and climates. If you do this, this year's predicted drought and future droughts will have little impact on your landscape.