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Avoid These Common Garden Plants Around Small Children or Pets

By Edited Dec 5, 2015 6 4
Garden Tips: Landscaping Tips and Tricks
Credit: Opensource

Natural outdoor gardens are a great way to improve any home  landscape design providing hours of enjoyment. Gardening is both relaxing and therapeutic offering many chances to escape the everyday stresses of life.

However, one thing you do not want to do if you are an avid gardener is create more stress in your life because of the plants you choose to plant in your backyard.

I started gardening several years ago and as I began to research and learn about landscaping tips and tricks, I started coming across some information about every day plants that surprised me.

It turns out, a lot of those pretty plants that you see at Home Depot or any nursery are toxic if consumed.

Why would you ever eat them you ask?

Good question. Well, I assume a rational person would not, but a small child or an animal might and the effects can be lethal.

And by the way, if you own pets or have small children in your home, you have probably noticed that they will pick up anything and put it in their mouths.

While you may be aware of the most common dangers inside a home such as electric outlets and chemical and pesticides under the sink or sitting around other areas exposed, there are some potentially harmful and even fatal plants that might be growing in your backyard.

If these plants are eaten, they have to potential to make the recipient very ill to the point of putting them in a coma or even causing death. And the effects are certainly magnified when  small children are involved.

So now that I have your attention, what are some of the plants you should avoid if you are concerned with pets and small children having access to your garden?

Lilly of the Valley Flower

Garden Plants Can Kill You: Avoid These Common Plants Around Small Children or Pets
Credit: Opensource

This scented flower produces small white bell-shaped flowers and offers a very fragrant scent to compliment any garden. It is typically used as a ground cover.

However, that smell and beauty hides a potential danger. While the entire plant and stems are to be avoided, the leaves are particularly toxic.[1] The leaves contain convallatoxin which causes the heart to contract making it slow and potentially leading to a coma.[1]

If parts of this plant were to be ingested, typical symptoms would include headaches, hot flashes, hallucinations, and red blotches on the skin.[1]

And if you have cats, this type of ground covering definitely falls under the category of flowers that are bad for cats.

Rhododendron Flower

Rhododendron
Credit: Opensource

The rhododendron is the state flower of both West Virginia and Washington.[2] It is commonly known as an azalea bush and is one of the most colorful flowers to plant.

These shrubs have flowers that bloom in the spring in various colors such as red, white, pink, or purple and make a great addition to any garden when looking to add color.

However, if any part of this plant were to be consumed, vomiting would occur almost immediately.[2]  This plant is toxic, causing drooling and your blood pressure to go dangerously low.[2] Those at risk, including adults, can potentially go into violent seizures with can lead to a coma.

Hydrangea Garden

Hydrangeas
Credit: Opensource

Hydrangeas are one of my favorites but you should be careful where you place it if you are concerned about it being accidentally consumed. This one can not only lead to a coma, but death also.

They are a particular favorite of gardening enthusiasts because of their large snowball-like pink, blue, or white flowers which bloom at the beginning of summer.

However, those flowers are the deadliest part. If they were consumed, the chemical hydragin would act as if it were cyanide by causing you to labor in breathing leading to dizziness and a rapid pulse.[3]  Your blood pressure begins to drop almost immediately which can lead to convulsions and death.[3]

Hydrangea, Mixed Hydrangea Seeds - Treasuresbylee - 50
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Are hydrangeas poisonous to cats? Yes

Daffodils Flowers

Poet's Narcissus

Poet's Narcissus
Credit: Franco Folini via Wikimedia Commons

Poet's Narcissus is commonly known as the daffodil and produces white bulb flowers, with a yellow center cup that adds color and height to any garden arrangement. However, the entire plant will produce violent vomiting if consumed. 

In fact, the plant does not even have to be eaten to make you feel ill. It gives off a scent that is strong enough to actually cause headaches if placed in a closed room in your home as a floral arrangement.[4]

Furthermore, the toxic chemicals in the plant can be absorbed through the skin if you have any open cuts, so when tending to this plant, make sure you are wearing gloves and a long sleeve shirt.[4]

If consumed, the recipient can expect nausea, headaches, convulsion, paralysis of the limbs and yes, even death.[4]

10 Plants- Pink Lily of the Valley, Convallaria Majalis Var. Rosea
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Larkspur Plant

Larkspur
Credit: Starlily37 via Wikimedia Commons

This plant is one of the best flowers for any garden if you are looking for beautiful blooms with a variety of colors from white to purple. It is also a favorite among gardeners because it is low maintenance, sometimes referred to as lavender.

However, the entire plant is deadly. The leaves and seeds contain a chemical called alkaloids that is toxic to the system.[5] If a human or animal consumes the leaves, stem or seeds, immediate vomiting and nausea would ensue flowed by a slowing of the heart.[5]

This is one of the more fast acting fatal plants so you need to get yourself or anyone to an emergency room as fast as possible because death can occur in as little as six hours after consumption.

Foxglove

Foxglove
Credit: Opensource

If you want to add height and color to your garden, you may have opted for this plant because of its tall pink, purple or white bell-shaped buds.

However, the entire plant is toxic if consumed by humans, as is poisonous for dogs.

The stem in particular if composed of chemicals such as digitalin, digitoxin, and digitonin that are fatal if consumed in high amounts. This plant will wreck your digestive system causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.[6]

This type of poisoning can also cause to a lower or rapid irregular heart beat leading to death.[6] The plant does not even need to be consumed to be fatal. Simply placing it in one’s mouth and tasting or sucking on the blooms can cause illness.[6]

Garden Advice for Backyard Landscaping

Summary

Unfortunately, there are many other plants that can cause serious illness or death if consumed so do some research on anything you are adding to your garden landscape. No one is suggesting that you avoid these plants in your garden, just be sure to do your research before planting anything on your property and or in a water feature. There are even varieties of plants that can deter critters and insects from entering your garden.

If you are concerned about accidentally poisoning small children, pets or wildlife, especially deer, you should avoid the types of plants mentioned in this article in open areas.

However, that does not mean that you cannot use these common beauties, you just need to take some precautions such as building a garden fence or boundary fencing.

However, be aware that any fencing that is designed to keep out wildlife needs to be at least six feet high. Deer in particular can hop over a standard 48 inch metal wire fence, so if you are concerned about them eating your attractive Foxglove, you need to go higher than that.

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Comments

Sep 2, 2014 9:20am
Marlando
Hi: As an avid gardener, I enjoyed your article only wishing you'd mentioned a few flowers that are good to eat. Nevertheless, thought-provoking and interesting. Two thumbs and a rating.
Sep 4, 2014 6:25am
LeighGoessl
Good read, thanks. Most of these I've had over the years, and excepting Lily of the Valley, had no idea of the toxicity of them.
Sep 4, 2014 6:25am
LeighGoessl
Good read, thanks. Most of these I've had over the years, and excepting Lily of the Valley, had no idea of the toxicity of them.
Sep 6, 2014 10:31am
TanoCalvenoa
One that's everywhere in Southern California where I live, and super dangerous, is oleander. So many people I've spoken to have not idea how deadly it is. Grown everywhere due to drought resistance and having pretty white or pink flowers.
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Bibliography

  1. "Lily of the Valley." Cornell University. 20/11/2014 <Web >
  2. "Rhododendron." Countryside Info. 20/11/2014 <Web >
  3. "Hydrangea Questions and Answers." United States National Arboretum. 20/11/2014 <Web >
  4. "Narcissus." Botanical. 20/11/2014 <Web >
  5. "Larkspur ." The Flower Expert. 20/11/2014 <Web >
  6. "Foxglove." Botanical. 20/11/2014 <Web >

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