7 Poisonous Plants to Avoid in a Child-Friendly Garden
When creating a child-friendly garden, it’s very important to ensure that there aren’t any plants within reach of children, especially toddlers, that could potentially cause them harm.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have such plants in your garden at all, just that you should take care to place them well out of reach of children, especially toddlers, to prevent them coming into contact with toxins.
If you going to have potentially poisonous plants in your garden, you should ensure that you wear gloves when pruning plants and shrubs, and also that all clippings and uprooted plants are disposed of appropriately.
It’s also important to ensure that you educate your children about the potential dangers within the garden, by teaching them that they shouldn’t play with or eat plants – unless, of course, they are food plants.
Before we begin our list of 7 poisonous plants to avoid in the garden, let’s first start by looking at what you should do if you think your child has been poisoned by a plant.
What to do if You Believe Your Child has been Poisoned by a Harmful Plant
Many of the plants on our list will not cause serious harm, and ingestion will typically result in an upset stomach or a little discomfort, which isn’t normally anything to be particularly worried about. However, a small number of common garden plants are more toxic and could cause severe poisoning.
If you believe your child to have been poisoned by a harmful plant, then you should seek medical advice from a hospital’s A&E department immediately. It will also help the hospital to identify the plant more quickly if you take a sample with you. You should try to keep your child calm and do not try to make them vomit.
Potentially Harmful Garden Plants
Today, we’re looking at 7 of the most common poisonous plants that you should avoid in a child-friendly garden. Of course, this is certainly not an exhaustive list, and you should always carefully read the labels of any plants or shrubs that you buy from your garden centre to identify any that are potentially harmful.
Let’s begin with the first toxic common garden plant on our list.
If any part of the bluebell plant or bulb is ingested, it can cause harm and sickness. This is due to the presence of toxic glycosides.
It is also believed that the sap can cause skin irritation.
Bluebells can be very invasive and, therefore, they are probably best avoided entirely if you have children, because even if they are planted out of the reach of children, there is a high likelihood that they will spread to other parts of your garden.
Hydrangeas are another common UK garden plant that you need to be wary of.
Although very rarely deadly, ingesting any part of a hydrangea can lead to stomach pain, nausea, heavy breathing, diarrhoea and lethargy. In more severe cases, poisoning from hydragin, the poisonous component of the plant, could lead to a coma, although it would be necessary to eat large quantities of the plant for this to occur.
Some individuals may also develop dermatitis after exposure to hydrangeas.
Foxgloves are beautiful, trumpet-shaped plants that can, unfortunately, be highly toxic to humans.
Ingesting foxgloves can be potentially fatal and antidotes are required to prevent life-threatening cases.
Foxgloves contain toxins in the form of cardiac glycosides, naturally occurring poisons that affect the heart.
Relatively low quantities of the toxin can be fatal, so think carefully about whether this plant should be in your garden at all.
4. Poison Ivy
Well, the clue is the name with this one! However, it’s generally only skin irritations that occur with poison ivy.
Poison ivy is, of course, a climbing woody vine that can grow very quickly up fence panels, walls and trees.
Its ability to produce urushiol means that there is the potential for it to cause a painful, itchy and blistery rash after making contact with the skin.
Luckily, whilst it’s common in North America, it’s very, very rare to come across poison ivy here in the UK. The vast majority of ivy present in our gardens is non-toxic, so it’s highly unlikely there’s any need to rush out into your garden and remove any ivy you currently have growing there.
5. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria Majalis)
Even ingesting small amounts of this attractive plant can lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, reduced heart rate, drowsiness and skin rashes.
Lily of the valley can also be fatal, and death can result from consuming just two leaves of the plant.
Lily of the valley produces beautiful red berries during the summer, which may look particularly attractive to children.
Due to its level of toxicity, we would recommend avoiding this one altogether in a child-friendly garden.
All species of this shrub can be harmful to humans. Its attractive berries contain the highest concentration of toxins, although all parts of this plant are, in fact, poisonous.
Daphne contains chemicals that can cause skin irritation. If ingested, these sensations are intensified on contact with the mucous membranes in the mouth, throat and stomach, causing severe discomfort.
Although very rarely fatal, there have been cases reported of poisoning from daphne, so please be wary of keeping daphne in a child-friendly garden.
Yes, it’s true, this beautiful spring plant is, in fact, poisonous to humans. Unlike some of the plants on this list, however, poisoning isn’t fatal.
However, the physical reaction to ingesting them is certainly unpleasant, nonetheless, and can lead to vomiting, upset stomach and dehydration. In more severe cases, convulsions and heart irregularities may occur.
Removing them from your garden entirely may be a little excessive, but children should be supervised when in the presence of daffodils and, of course, taught to stay well clear of them. And, as there are over 60 varieties of daffodil, make sure they realise the rules apply to all of them!
When looking to create a child-friendly garden, you need to be aware that there are some plants that could potentially cause harm to your children.
In most cases, it’s unlikely that they will cause serious harm and, often, ensuring that anything potentially harmful is kept out of the reach of children is enough to keep them safe.
If, however, it’s likely that your children may be left unsupervised in the garden, then we’d highly recommend avoiding altogether anything that could potentially cause harm.
It is also recommended that you educate your children about plants, and explain that only certain types of plants are edible and anything else should not be touched.
Our list is by no means exhaustive, so always check the labels before buying any new plants for your garden.
And, should there be any doubt as to whether your child has been poisoned by a plant in your garden, you should seek medical attention immediately.
Is there anything we have missed from our list? Do you have any experience of either yourself or your children being poisoned by a plant in your garden? Then let us know in the comments section below.