Poisonous Garden Plants

I am writing this article not to scare you away from gardening but to educate you about it.  I love to garden but some of the most beautiful plants in the garden are actually poisonous, even deadly.  I am  extremely careful about what I plant in my garden in order to keep my pets safe.  If you have children or animals that frequent your garden, please research prospective garden plants prior to planting them to make sure they are not poisonous. And, if you suspect one of your current garden plants may be poisonous, please research it.  If the plant is poisonous, be wise and use caution if you choose to keep it.  Here is just a small list of common garden plants that are poisonous to humans and animals:

  • Foxglove (Digitalis)
  • Rhododendron
  • Azalea
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Hydrangea
  • Narcissus (Daffodil)
  • Larkspur (Delphinium)
  • Oleander
  • Poinsettia
  • Purple nightshade
  • Mountain laurel
  • Mistletoe
  • Water hemlock
  • Wisteria
  • Elephant ear
  • Lilies in the Hemerocallis genus
  • English Yew
  • Rhubarb leaves

This is just a short list of garden plants that are poisonous.  There are more.  If you are unsure whether or not a plant is poisonous, please do a search of the plant prior to planting it in your garden. It could save a life. For a larger list of poisonous and non-poisonous garden plants check out the University of California

If you think a child or an animal may have ingested a toxic plant, please call poison control immediately. Don’t wait.

Stay safe and happy gardening!

Quote of the Day

“A garden is a grand teacher.  It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”

-Gertrude Jekyll, British horticulturist and writer

 

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Biennials

Biennials comprise some of the most beautiful flowers in the landscape.  Biennials include such lovely flowers as hollyhocks, sweet william (also called dianthus), and foxglove.  But what exactly is a biennial and how do you grow it?

What is a biennial?

To answer the question, “What is a biennial?”, it may help to first define the other types of flowers that are more well known.  Annuals are flower that must be planted every year.  They grow, set seed, and die within the same season. They don’t come back.  Perennials are flowers that grow, flower, die back to the ground, and come back the following year and the year after and so on.

Biennials are odd in that they combine the behaviors of both annuals and perennials.  Biennials sprout from seed the first year.  The plants focus all their energy on growing sturdy roots and healthy greens but will not flower during the first year of growth.  Biennials will then die back to the ground for the winter and come back the following spring.  In the second year of growth, the biennials create a stunning display of flowers and set seed. After setting seed, biennial plants die completely and don’t come back.  So a biennial grows the first year and dies back to the ground for the winter like a perennial.  The following year the biennial will flower, set seed, and die, root and all,  like an annual.

How do you grow a biennial?

Because of the interesting growing behavior of biennials, there is a trick to growing them.  In order to have beautiful flowers every year when you start biennials, plant biennials by seed for two years consecutively or plant potted biennials for several years in a row.  Thereafter, either let the seeds fall to the ground or collect the seeds to reseed the following year. This means do not deadhead your biennial flowers.  Instead, allow the flower head to dry up and collect the seeds to replant the following season or allow them to drop to the ground so the plant reseeds itself. This process of planting will give you a never ending supply of biennial flowers year after year after year.

How are biennials special?

Biennials are a special type of plant. They have a fascinating mix of annual and perennial growth behavior.  In order to have their flowering presence in the garden every year, the gardener must follow a special process.  However, biennials are well worth the effort. They have some of the most beautiful flowers of any garden plant.

Happy Gardening!

Quote of the Day

 

Shed no tear! O shed no tear!

The flower will bloom another year.

Weep no more! O weep no more!

Young buds sleep in the root’s white core.

-John Keats, English poet