Be careful not to plant poisonous plants in your outdoor garden

Be careful not to plant poisonous plants in your outdoor garden


Though most garden plants are perfectly safe to have around children and pets, there are some that may be more dangerous than others. If you’re planning on planting some outdoors this season, do some research on the types of plants you want to grow and be sure they’re non-toxic before putting them in the ground. These are just some of the types of toxic plants to avoid if you have kids or pets around your home, though not an exhaustive list by any means

What makes a plant toxic?

In order for a plant to be toxic, it must contain one or more of 500 different chemicals. Most of these are nitrogen-based, but they can be classified into four basic categories: (1) alkaloids, which are bitter tasting and often have strong colors; (2) glycosides, which release their toxins when damaged; (3) phenols and tannins, which can damage our gut; and (4) cardiac glycosides. These include foxglove and lily of the valley—and some household staples. Many household pets are attracted to these natural poisons as if they were treats, so choose carefully if you have a dog or cat that loves to play outdoors while you’re tending to nature’s bounty. We have put together below a list of plants people tend to plant in their garden without realizing the dangers to their beloved pets and the possible effects they may have when ingested. 


Ingestion of Aloe Vera may result in oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea and breathing problems. It is most toxic when consumed with alcohol or other drugs, or if eaten by a pet on a daily basis for several weeks. All parts of aloe should be considered toxic—the latex contained within its leaves can cause severe burning and irritation upon contact with skin or mucous membranes. Severe dehydration may occur following ingestion of any portion of an aloe plant as well. Seek veterinary assistance immediately following accidental ingestion.


The leaves, stems and nectar of azaleas can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even death in pets. This lovely flowering shrub is easily confused with rhododendrons (another common toxic plant) so it’s best to avoid planting these altogether. While rhododendrons are native to North America and are therefore less common, they still grow wild in certain parts of California, Pennsylvania and Washington state. Also known as Kalmia latifolia.

Calla Lily

Despite their beauty, these flowers can be deadly if ingested by dogs or cats. Even when a dog chews on an older blossom, he may still be able to pass along enough toxin through his droppings that it can affect another animal’s health. If you’re an owner of a large dog, or have a young child who plays outdoors and could accidentally ingest any parts of this flower, it’s best to keep them away from your garden beds until they are well established.


The most well-known part of a daffodil that can be toxic is its bulb. Grazing livestock should not be allowed near daffodil bulbs or flowers as they could cause diarrhea, convulsions and even death. Humans are unaffected by daffodil poisoning, but swallowing a small amount can cause mild stomach upset and larger doses can cause skin irritation. Bulbs can be cooked, dried and stored for winter use, but they should only be used as a spice and never consumed uncooked.

Delphinium Section: Foxglove Section: Lily of the Valley Section: Larkspur Section: Lupine Section

Many edible and ornamental garden plants are toxic to pets. A few of these common houseplants include Delphinium, Foxglove, Lily of the Valley, Larkspur, Lupine, Oleander, Poison Hemlock and Rhubarb leaves. Be especially aware that some varieties of these flowers are more toxic than others! For example, lily-of-the-valley is far more dangerous than its cousin Peace Lily because it contains lycorine – a potent neurotoxin. Symptoms of poisoning are similar for all types: drooling, muscle weakness/paralysis or tremors (including seizures), loss of appetite and trouble walking.

Seeking advice and spreading the knowledge

If you’re concerned about pets and other animals finding your newly planted flowers and veggies , be proactive and share these lists with family members and neighbors. And if you have any questions about a specific type of plant or tree, contact a local nursery for advice on how to keep pets safe. We at Davis Family Nursery and Garden can help answer and investigate your concerns.  We’ll walk through each step with you so that all your flowerbeds will remain pet-friendly. Contact us today! 

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