10 Toxic Plants You Don't Want Your Pet to Get Ahold of
Here in South Carolina, we take spring planting very seriously.
We go out in masses to the home improvement stores and local nurseries looking for plants that we think the deer and other critters might not chew down to nubs. At the same time, like others all around the world, we want uplifting, colorful leaves and blossoms that will pull us from the winter doldrums into the warmth and light of summer. However, sometimes we are so overwhelmed trying to find something we think will survive the animals, we forget to make sure the animals can survive it!
If you’re like me, plant toxicity isn’t something you have thought about very much while doing my spring planting. This year a small thing changed that. I was shopping for my spring plantings and struggling like I always do to find a colorful and beautiful perennial yet not the same one all of my neighbors have in their yards or window boxes. I thought I had found one, but when I googled it, the first thing to come up was that it was toxic to dogs. Well, I have two dogs, one being a puppy still who was a stray, which I blame for the fact that she scavenges like crazy and chews a lot of plants. So, I immediately started to google all of the plants I was looking at and the ones I had already planted. It turns out I had planted two plants that are toxic to dogs and cats in my window boxes and have been planting others for years! This discovery is what prompted me to write this blog post to help others be aware of plants that are toxic to their pets.
I am directing you to the ASPCA's Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List on their website at www. Aspca.org for a more detailed list of plants than I can possibly include in this short blog. For our purposes here, I want to point you to some of the plants that I saw readily available in my spring shopping at more than one of the regular stores in the Charleston area. I believe these are some widely used plants and flowers in the area whose toxicity to animals may not be well known to people.
Sago Palms - okay, so maybe the toxicity of Sagos is well known to those who have been here a while but probably not to those new to the area. The Sago needs to be included on any list in SC due to the frequency in which it is seen in yards here.
Oleanders - I have known about the oleander's toxicity to dogs as one of my dogs ingested some and was very sick for days; thankfully, he survived. However, I do not know that this is common knowledge, and since they are also widely used in yards, I included them on this list.
Lantana - I was shocked to find that lantana is highly toxic and can even be fatal to many animals, not to mention children. We almost always had these in our yard when I was a child, and I see them all over today as well.
Hydrangea - Hydrangea is so beautiful that they are regularly used here to beautify people’s yards. This one broke my heart as I have wanted to plant some in my own yard for a long time.
English Ivy/Branching Ivy - I have used this more than once in my window boxes and have it there right now, and yet I did not know it was toxic. This is one that is often used in planters and pots because of the way it trails, which can also make it easier for an animal to get ahold of it.
Elephant Ears/Caladium - I have had this in a planter in my front yard for years and only learned their danger to dogs when researching for this blog!
A few others are:
- Azaleas/Rhododendron - These are so popular to use in yards, and yet I had no idea they were toxic to not only dogs but cats as well.
- Hosta or plantation lily - Apparently, there is more than one type of lily plant that is toxic, but this one caught me off guard because I see it regularly stocked at the nurseries here and had no idea.
- Marijuana - Sorry to those of you who have a little hidden “gem” in your yard, but if you want to keep your dogs and cats safe, you’ll ditch the weed.
- Carolina Jessamine/ Yellow Jessamine - Yes, folks, our state flower is toxic not only to animals but humans too!
This is just a list of the ones I thought should be more widely known, but the entire list of plants that are dangerous to our fur babies is much longer. A few others that deserve to be mentioned due to the fact that I see them so much in yards around Charleston are chrysanthemums, gardenias, the wandering jew, different lilies, and more than one type of fern. I wish it was common practice to label plants with this information, but until this happens, please remember to do a quick Google search before you bring a new plant into your yard or home if you have any pets.
If you're looking for a new home and love plants as much as I do, give me a call, and we can look at as many homes as it takes to find the perfect garden for you and your fur babies.