A container garden on your patio is a great way to grow plants and beautify your home if you’re on a budget and have a limited amount of time and space. But when making selections it’s also important to remember that there are a number of plants that can be potentially dangerous and even lethal to your children and pets. You’d be surprised at how common some of these ornamental beauties are, and that you may already have a few growing in or around your home. Do not do what my neighboor did and have 3 of these types of plants around his fire bowls and patio grill. They may look pretty, but you need to ask at the store before purchasing and to be safe, do some research on your own as well. Here are a few of the ones that concerned parents and pet owners should look out for, from least to most dangerous:
1) Iris – the underground roots can cause severe but not usually life-threatening stomach upset.
2) Wisteria – Children are often attracted to the pods and seeds of this plant, which can cause mild to severe stomach upset.
3) Lilly-of-the-Valley is known to cause irregular pulse along with digestive upset and even mental confusion.
4) Oak trees – attacks the kidneys over time and symptoms may not appear for days or weeks. Your child or pet would have to be ingesting the leaves or acorns over a period of time.
5) Jasmine – Eating the berries can be fatal, and symptoms include stomach upset and nervousness.
6) Rhododendrons and Azaleas – Ingesting any part of these shrubs can be fatal. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulties and coma.
7) Elephant Ears – No…not the kind at the fair. All parts can cause burning of the mouth and tongue, and can be fatal if the tongue swells to blocking breathing in thr throat of the victim.
8) Yew – Berries are very pretty and attractive to children, and leaves are even more toxic. This plant can cause death without warning.
9) Cherry Trees – Who knew? The twigs and leaves of the wild or cultivated varieties contain a compound that turns into cyanide when digested. Symptoms included nervousness and difficulty breathing, anxiety.
10.) Oleander – Extremely popular on the west coast, it is one of the most common, beautiful, and toxic plants out there. Keep your kids and pets away from this stuff!
What to do?
If you already have some specimens established in your garden and can’t part with them, then simply keep these plants out of reach or range of your small family members and don’t leave anyone unattended. Otherwise, for peace of mind, choose only non-toxic varieties when designing your patio garden or fire pit globe area. Use common sense and pay attention to what your pets and kids are doing outside, because over-ingesting any type of plant or substance can cause severe stomach upset, nausea, and other problems. Don’t wait-and-see, and bring a piece of the suspected plant along with you to the ER or vet’s office. If you even suspect that your child or pet has been poisoned, don’t hesitate to call poison control or the appropriate help immediately!