The approach of spring and summer usually means warmer days and spending more time outside. For some folks, warmer weather also means growing pretty plants and flowers. From flower pots and hanging baskets to full-size flower gardens, most people love to plant and care for flowers to some degree. Plants and flowers make yards appear cheery and inviting, and in some cases, the flowers add a pleasant smell to the area. For some folks, their garden is their refuge, a place that is calming to them, and tending to the garden is a great escape from everyday stressors in life.
When you have pets, sometimes gardening and flowers can be a bit of a challenge. Some pets love to dig in flower beds or even munch on the beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, a lot of common flowers that people choose to plant are harmful to pets in some way. This can be discouraging for pet owners that want to have a pretty flower garden. Thankfully, there are also a lot of flowers that are relatively harmless to pets and are still beautiful to have in flower beds.
Let’s review some common plants and flowers that can be harmful to pets in various ways. Furthermore, we will also suggest some great flower and plant alternatives to have in your garden that are still beautiful and, most importantly, not harmful to your pets.
Common Flowers and Plants Harmful to Pets
Please note that the following is NOT an all-inclusive list of flowers and plants that are harmful to your pets. If you have any concerns about a specific plant, visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control website or the Pet Poison Helpline website as they have an extensive list of plants, flowers, trees, and shrubs that are harmful to your pets.
Daffodils or Jonquils
Daffodils or the closely related Jonquil flowers can cause vomiting, excess drooling, and diarrhea. Ingesting large amounts of these flowers can cause convulsions, tremors, low blood pressure, or irregular heartbeat. The bulb is the most toxic part of the flower.
Day Lilies (and All Varieties of Lilies)
Day Lilies (and all varieties of Lilies) are very toxic to cats. These beautiful flowers are extremely toxic to cats, the cat doesn’t even need to eat the flower. If a cat also comes in contact with the pollen on the lilies, they can experience vomiting and even kidney failure. Lilies are not toxic to dogs.
Eating a Poppy flower can affect the pet’s central nervous system, causing sedation or even an extremely excited state, inappetence, extremely large or small pupils, or also cause them to become dazed and staring off into space.
Although this is not typically a decorative plant or flower, it is worth mentioning as the ingestion of this plant is very toxic to pets. Pets do not react to marijuana the same as humans. If a pet eats this plant, they will experience vomiting, incoordination, sleepiness, excessive drooling, low blood pressure, low body temperature, and even seizures or go into a coma. Pets that ingest this plant need to be immediately taken to a veterinarian for treatment.
If your pet munches on a primrose flower, they can experience upset stomach and vomiting.
If eaten, Irises can cause excess drooling, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea.
Lantana flowers can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even labored breathing in pets.
Tulips can cause excess drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. The bulb is the most toxic part of the flower.
Ingesting this plant can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Furthermore, coming in contact with this plant can cause skin irritations for pets.
Ingesting the Lobelia flower can cause vomiting, diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, and even result in an abnormal heart rate in a pet.
Begonias can cause nausea, excess drooling, and vomiting if ingested.
If your pet munches on some Geraniums, it will cause vomiting, anorexia, and even skin irritations.
A Note on Succulent Plants
Succulents are excellent choices for potted plants, and depending on where you live, they can be great decorative outdoor plants. Surprisingly, most succulents are safe around pets. However, the following is a list of popular succulents that can be harmful to your pets.
Snacking on a Kalanchoe flower can cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. Eating large amounts of this flower may even cause weakness and changes in the heart rhythms of a pet.
Aloe Vera Plants
Aside from being sharp and puncturing the pet’s tongue and mouth, eating the leaves of this plant can cause vomiting and diarrhea. However, the GEL of the plant is edible and safe for pets.
Ingesting a Jade Plant can cause vomiting, incoordination, or diarrhea.
The leaves of the Agave plant contain oxalate crystals that will cause burning of the mouth and throat, as well as cause irritation and swelling.
If you want to hear more about planting succulents around pets, check out my article, “Are Succulents Toxic to Pets?”
Flowers and Plants Growing in Warm, Dry Climates
Similar to the Aloe Vera plant, the Yucca Plant has sharp points on the leaves that may puncture your pet’s mouth. the ingestion of this plant can cause vomiting.
Eating a Moss Rose can cause tremors, excess drooling, and even kidney failure in some cases.
Chewing on Oleander can cause nausea, excess drooling, vomiting, and even more severe symptoms such as abnormal heart rates or seizures.
Eating a Bougainvillea flower will cause gastrointestinal upset, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
If your pet eats a Coneflower, it may cause mild stomach upset or vomiting.
Flowers and Plants That are OK to Plant Around Pets
It may seem discouraging to see such a large amount of flowers and plants that may cause harm to our pets. Fortunately, there is also a long list of flowers and plants that are safe for pet owners to plant in their gardens.
The following is a list of flowers and plants that are pet-friendly. It is important to note that although a plant or flower is recognized as “pet-friendly,” any pet that consumes a large amount of a plant or flower may experience stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea. Please observe your pets around your plants and flowers to ensure they are not going to be “chowing down” on your garden, and as a result, not feeling too well afterward.
Pansies are such happy looking flowers! They are colorful, hardy, and great to plant either in pots or right in the ground. Pansies are known as “Biennial” flowers, meaning they survive for two years in most climates. They thrive in cooler weather and their seeds can survive underground in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Fahrenheit. In warmer climates, pansies are grown as annuals during the cooler season. They bloom during the cool fall, winter, and spring months. Pansies are heat-sensitive, meaning they like temperatures around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and around 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.
Petunias come in so many different colors and varieties! Petunias are very safe around pets, and in fact, If you have rabbits or live in an area that has wild rabbits, watch your petunias, as they are definitely a favorite snack for bunnies. They are Annual flowers, blooming from spring until frost. They grow well in your garden or in flower pots. They like warm weather, 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and 57-65 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. They are frost sensitive flowers. Under these temperature conditions, petunias can be planted in areas of full sun.
Marigolds add a lot of color to any flower garden, and they are also a natural mosquito repellant! They are annual flowers and thrive in climates where the night temperatures do not drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and the day temperatures do not go above 70 degrees Fahrenheit
Impatiens are great for planting in pots or directly in your garden. They are annual flowers and prefer partial to deep shading. They are not frost-tolerant and need frequent watering if you live in an area that frequently has temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sage may not be the most colorful plant for your garden. However, this plant has many purposes. Aside from being aromatic, it can be an excellent spice used for cooking. Sage is also known to be a natural fly repellant. Sage likes to be in direct sunlight, and in warmer climates is actually a perennial plant.
Rosemary can really add some texture to a garden, and it smells great! Although it is not colorful, it can be beneficial as a cooking spice and, like sage, is a natural fly repellant. It prefers temperatures between 68-86 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and prefers warm, dry climates.
Sunflowers are great additions to gardens as they can add height and beauty. Sunflowers do well in high heat areas, with temperatures ranging from 70-78 degrees Fahrenheit and in full sun for 6-8 hours. Sunflowers are an annual flower.
Alyssum can be an excellent filler for flower pots and is a superb ground-cover for flower beds. It is an annual flower, usually blooming June-October and has a light, sweet scent. It can be taller than other ground covering plants, but it really adds a great final touch to your garden. Alyssum likes 4-6 hours of direct sun during the day and thrives in mild climates. It will stop blooming in extreme dry heat areas.
Roses, All Varieties
Roses add great beauty and fragrance to any flower garden. Other than the prickly thorns on the stems, roses are harmless to pets. There are so many different varieties of roses that you could pretty much grow a rose anywhere!
Zinnia flowers have the fullness of a sunflower and the beauty of a daisy. They come in so many different colors! They are annuals, growing from early summer to frost. They like full sun.
Texas Sage is actually a shrub. However, Texas Sage can be a great addition to a flower garden as it does have flowers on it. There are numerous varieties of Texas Sage available, depending on what color and appearance you are looking for in your garden. Texas Sage is an excellent shrub to use in warm, dry climates.
Bottlebrush is another shrub that would be a great addition to any garden, as it has many unique flowers that are colorful and have a spiky appearance, hence the name of the plant. Bottlebrush is a great plant for hot, dry climates and likes plenty of sunshine.
Honeysuckle is an excellent shrub for your garden as it adds both beauty and fragrance with its delicate blooming flowers. This shrub can be planted in a garden or somewhere you would like it to grow like a vine. Many folks like to plant honeysuckle near windows, doors, or patios to enjoy the sweet fragrance when it is in bloom. This plant attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Nasturtium is a beautiful flowering plant, great for hanging baskets or containers as it is a trailing plant and can grow very long. Nasturtium comes in many different colors and varieties, so it can be a great addition to any type of garden or landscape. These flowers like to be planted in full sun.
Snapdragons come in many different colors and varieties and add height to any garden. When full-grown, these flowers can grow to 1-3 feet tall.
Other Solutions for Pet Owners That Enjoy Gardening
As we have discovered, gardening with pets can sometimes be a challenge, when determining what plants and flowers are safe for pets. The most essential element with gardening and pets is to know your pets’ personalities. Are they a digger? Do they like to chew on plants or flowers? Do they eat grass or long, leafy plants? Maybe your pet doesn’t even give your garden a second thought, and if that is the case, then you can be a little more relaxed about what you plant in your yard and how you choose to landscape it.
Fortunately, even if your pet does like to make trouble in your flowers, there are various gardening options available, making it possible to have a beautiful garden or landscape and still enjoy it with the pets around. Some people decide to plant flowers in pots or different containers, while others get creative with raised gardens and flower boxes hanging from window sills or railings. Other people may fence off a part of their yard, so their pet does not have access to their garden.
Ultimately, knowing the types of plants and flowers you have in your garden is an important starting point, just in case your pet decides to have a little taste of something. Remember, the plants and flowers we specifically discussed above are not an all-inclusive list. If you are unsure if something your pet may have gotten into or eaten is harmful, visit the ASPCA Pet Poison Control website, the Pet Poison Helpline website, or call and speak to a veterinarian. We hope you get to enjoy your gardening!