How Safe Is Your Garden?

Growing a wide range of plants and flowers looks beautiful and is very rewarding. But did you know that some common garden plants are poisonous? That means you should take extra care around them. It’s worth knowing which plants in your garden pose a risk.

Some plants cause problems when touched, for instance by causing an allergic rash in some people (eg Sunflower, Ivy, Pumpkin, Virginia Creeper, Primula) or stinging (Nettles). Others are poisonous if ingested (eg Datura, Castor Bean, Deadly Nightshade, Foxglove, Oleander, Hemlock) and while most adults wouldn’t dream of eating an unidentified garden plant, you need to be careful if you have small children or pets. Some plants even emit toxic fumes when burned (eg Oleander), so it’s worth knowing which plants this applies to before lighting a garden bonfire.

To avoid illness or injury, always do your research or talk to experts when introducing new plants to the garden to know their properties. Always use gloves when gardening and wash your hands thoroughly after gardening.

If you develop a reaction after touching a particular plant, an anti-histamine product from the pharmacist may help but if the symptoms are more serious, seek medical help as soon as possible.

Children under the age of five are most at risk from poisonous plants as gardens are full of exciting things for them to touch and nibble. It’s therefore important to teach children not to touch certain plants and not to eat any plant that hasn’t been given to them by a familiar adult.

If you suspect someone has ingested a poisonous plant, or developed a severe rash or burns after touching a plant, seek medical advice.

Even plants that are safe for humans may cause problems for pets if ingested – so if you have a dog or cat that likes to nibble on garden foliage, make sure you check if the plants could be harmful to your pet. If your pet has eaten a plant that you suspect may make them ill, take the pet to the vet with a sample of the plant if possible.

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