Articles

- Safe Gardening -

THE PET HEALTH LIBRARY
By Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipABVP
Educational Director, VeterinaryPartner.com

Are any of the Plants in Your Yard Poisonous to Your Pets?

Poisonous plants can mean disaster for the family pet. Check this external link to: The Cornell University Toxic Plant Index. All pet owners should bookmark this site, which has photographs of plants that are poisonous to pets. Following are just a few examples:

Iris
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Oleander
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Rhubarb
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Just helping out with a little gardening

Garden Tips

The garden shops and catalogs are full of gorgeous garden shrubs and flowers. They tell us how to water and how much sunshine is needed, but rarely do they tell us if the plant is pet safe.Your dog or cat is probably having visions of digging through or chewing up the plants. We’ll leave the fencing and reprimanding up to you, but just to be on the safe side, how about planting only non-toxic plants? If unplanned periodic demolition of the garden by the family dog is a fact of life, it is good to know the plants he or she is chewing up are non-toxic. It may not help the garden any, but knowing your pet isn’t going to get sick because of it is one less thing to worry about. It’s good to know what is considered safe should the family pet get frisky and start chewing and digging in the flower beds.We’ll try to help out. The following plants are considered safe:

Hollyhocks Carnival Mix
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(Alcea species)
Hollyhocks Peaches
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(Alcea species)
Polka Dot Plant
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(Hypoestes Sanguinolata)
Coleus
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Honeysuckle Alabama
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(Lonicera species)
Honeysuckle John Clayton
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(Lonicera species)

Catnip (Nepeta cataria)

Catnip Garden
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Catnip was brought to America by early colonists and was considered to be a commercial crop. Numerous medical properties have been ascribed to catnip and it has been used in teas, soaks, and poultices. Today its uses are largely confined to feline entertainment as its active ingredient, cis-trans-nepetalactone, is a mild hallucinogen. Rubbing, rolling, and other merry-making are produced, though one should be careful as aggressive behavior is often made worse by catnip indulgence.

Catnip Bud
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Response to catnip is inherited genetically as a dominant trait which means that not all cats will be affected. Kittens under age 6-8 weeks are not able to respond.

Catnip is felt to be a safe and non-addictive recreational drug for cats but there is some thinking that overdose can produce seizures. For this reason, it is best not used in cats with a history of seizures. Chronic exposure to catnip may cause an apparent loss of mental faculty and possibly personality change.

Catnip can be a fun garden plant if the climate is right but can quickly turn into a weed problem if one is not careful. Catnip should be considered an occasional treat for cats able to respond to it.

Pampas Grass
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Primroses
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Star Jasmine
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Maidenhair Fern
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Grape Hyacinth
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Zebra Plant
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Common Gardenia
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Hardy Gloxinia
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Rose of Sharon
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Shrub Althaea or Rose of Sharon
Asparagus Fern
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The ASPCA toxic plant database is the source of our information and they list the Asparagus fern on both the toxic and non-toxic lists. The reason is that the berries of the Asparagus fern can cause an upset stomach if eaten.
Bottlebrush
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One of the problems with knowing what plants are safe for your pets is that many different plants have the same common name. There are many plants that use the name “wandering jew”; but the one we have confirmed the non-toxicity of is Zebrina pendula. There are also several diffent plants that are called African Daisies; the one pictured here as safe is of the genus Dimorphotheca. The non-toxic Resurrection Lily (also called the Varigated Peacock Ginger) is a safe plant. The name “resurrection lily” has also been applied to the Lycoris genus of lily. Many types of lily are toxic and we do not have information on the Lycoris lilies.

Resurrection Lily
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Varigated Peacock Ginger
African Daisy
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genus Dimorphotheca also called Cape Marigolds
Wandering Jew
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Zebrina pendula
Chinese Windmill Palm
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(Trachycarpus fortunei)
Scarlet Sage
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(Salvia coccinea)
Sanvitalia
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Creeping Zinnia (Sanvitalia procumbens)

Whether it is a shrub, a tree or just a potted plant, it’s good to know that a dog or cat can’t be harmed by chewing up a few leaves or petals.

Japanese Pittosporum
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The Lesser Snapdragon
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Persian Violet (Exacum affine)
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The Blushing Bromeliad
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(Neoregelia carolinae)
The Coral Lily
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(Lilium pumilum)
Flame of the Woods
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(Ixora coccinea)
Star Window Plant
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(Haworthia subfasciata)
The Dancing Doll Orchid
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(Oncidium flexuosum)
Baby Echeveria AKA: Painted Lady
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(Echeveria derenbergii)
Paddy’s Wig
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(Helxine soleirolii)
The Orange Star
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(Guzmania lingulata)
Queen’s Cup, Beadlily, Bride’s Bonnet, Blue Beard
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(Clintonia uniflora)
Bachelor’s Buttons, Cornflowers
Bachelor's Buttons, Cornflowers
(Centaurea cyanus)
White Ginger, Butterfly Ginger, Butterfly lily
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(Hedychium coronarium)
Wax Begonia (Begonia semperflorens)
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Pot Marigold (Calendula offinalis)
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The Mosaic Plant, also called The Red Nerve Plant
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(Fittonia merschaffeltii)
The Blue Marguerite Daisy
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(Felicia amelloides)
The Florida butterfly orchid

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(Epidendrum tempense)

Date Published: August 7, 2002

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