Gardening with pet-safe plants is a great way to save money and create a yard that people enjoy being in. The problem with this idea is finding information on which plants are safe for your pets and what precautions you need to follow when planting these plants. Not only is the plant going to be healthier because it has less requirement for fertilizers, but it is also going to be safer if the plant has natural repellents that ward off pests. If you are new to gardening or do not know which plants are toxic to your pets, here are several things you need to know about these plants before incorporating them into your landscape.
1. All Pet-Safe Plants are Not Alike
Many people equate these plants with ‘edible’ or ‘nontoxic.’ However, this is not necessarily true. Just because a plant is safe for your dog to munch on does not mean it is safe to be in your garden. A common example of this is oleanders. Yes, they are edible to pets and will not cause them any harm if consumed. However, that does not mean that you should let your dog roll around among the plants or eat the leaves because it could kill him. The best rule of thumb when considering such plants is checking with a local garden center for specific plants that are safe.
2. Poisonous is Not the Same as Toxic
Even poisonous plants to pets may not be toxic for people or the environment, depending on how it is ingested. For instance, while some plants are poisonous because they contain natural pesticides in their leaves, these same leaves could make an excellent addition to your compost pile. Therefore, when researching which plants are pet-safe or toxic to your pets, you must consider how they are ingested.
3. Beware of Toxic Flowers
In most cases, flowers from safe plants will pose no risk to pets if they are ingested. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, if you have a pet prone to eating flowers or plants, you will want to keep it away from lantana and daffodils because they are slightly toxic when ingested. This means that even though these flowers may be perfectly safe for humans and the environment, you should still keep them out of reach or away from your pets.
4. Keep Pets Away During Pruning
Another risk with these plants is that the gardener may have to prune certain plants, which will release nectar into the air. If you prune your shrubs or trees and notice that your dog is acting strangely, keeping your pet in the house may be best until the plant has dried.
5. Know the Risks of ‘Safe’ Flowers
You will want to avoid having lilies around pets typically susceptible to kidney failure when they ingest anything containing lily pollen or lily sap due to their toxicity. Other pet-safe flowers that pose a risk include African daisies, azaleas, castor beans, chrysanthemums, larkspur, and meadow rue.
6. Pet-Friendly Plants Can be Toxic When Composted
Even though many of these plants are not toxic to dogs or cats if ingested in small amounts, they can become toxic when used in compost piles. For example, it is perfectly safe to have a pet roll around on the grass and dig in the soil that contains clover and daisies. However, these flowers release toxins into the environment when used as ingredients for your compost pile and should not be added to them if you have pets that spend a lot of time in the dirt. There might be small risks with pet-friendly plants, but not all is lost. Just monitor your pets if they eat any leaves and note any changes in their behavior.