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Exercising Caution with Mildly Toxic Plants

At Garden Collage we love the idea of getting kids interested in gardening– it’s something we wholeheartedly encourage through our family-friendly DIY projects and our public interest pieces here at GC. Still, teaching kids about all the wonderful edible plants they can grow in a vegetable garden sometimes comes with a caveat– you have to remind your Lil’ Sprout that just because some plants are edible doesn’t mean that all plants are edible.

Many of our most common garden plants in North America– from honeysuckle to Birch trees and everything in between– contain parts that are mildly toxic and can cause harm when ingested. When introducing your Lil’ Sprout to edible gardens for the first time, be sure to remind them never to eat anything from the garden without asking– they’ll be thankful for the spared tummy-ache, and you can rest easy knowing there won’t be any confusion that can effect your child’s health.

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The following common garden plants are considered to be “bad” or mildly toxic plants that can be kept around children with some careful supervision.

Remember, any plant may cause unexpected problems if ingested, and the safest bet is to check with your local poison control center if you think your child has accidentally ingested a toxic plant. But for the most part, a little awareness goes a long way– teach your kids to love the beauty of these plants (without eating them) and the respect will be paid forward in the form of a beautiful, healthy garden full of beautiful, healthy kids.

Mildy Toxic Plants

  • Alyssum
  • American ivy
  • Apricot (pit)
  • Arrowhead
  • Avocado (seed, leaves, stem)
  • Birch tree
  • Black walnut
  • Bleeding heart
  • Boston ivy
  • Cactus
  • Carnation
  • Cattail
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Daisy
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Dogwood
  • Dracaena (most varieties)
  • Elephant’s ear
  • Fern
  • Ficus Benjamina
  • Fig tree (not Figs)
  • Geranium
  • Gladiola
  • Dahlia
  • Honeysuckle
  • Inch plant
  • Iris
  • Ivy
  • Lady slipper
  • Lamb’s tail
  • Maple tree
  • Narcissus
  • Oak tree
  • Oxalis
  • Painted lady
  • Pansy
  • Peace lily
  • Philodendron
  • Poinsettia
  • Potato (all green parts)
  • Rubber plant
  • Sedum
  • Sensitive fern
  • Snake plant
  • Sweet pea
  • Violet
  • Weeping willow
  • Woodbine

If you’re unsure of your plant’s name, take parts of the plant to a master gardener working at your local nursery– they should be able to fill you in.

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