A Lesson Learned About Poisonous Plants and Kids

Earlier this week we went to a garden store and I promised the kids they could pick out a plant for their garden. Miss D is a little too small yet to have much of an opinion, but Mr. D quickly settled on this colorful lantana.

He was very particular about waiting until he was “ready” to plant it. Here he is hard at work, patting down the soil around his new plant.

Now, I didn’t realize it until I looked up lantanas on the web, but it turns out these plants are poisonous. Actually, it turns out that a lot of plants are poisonous. No kids or pets have taken a bite out of this lantana, and it’s unlikely that they would. However, last year my daughter was quick to take a bite out of any veggie she found in the garden and so far this year she’s been plucking the heads off the pansies. Though she hasn’t put any of them in her mouth, I wouldn’t need to be concerned if she did because pansies are actually edible flowers. Lantanas are not, and several sites say the berries are poisonous. (This one doesn’t have berries yet.)

Here is my next course of action.

  1. Talk with my kids about edible versus poisonous plants and how they shouldn’t taste or eat any berries, leaves, or flowers, unless Mommy, Daddy or another trusted adult says it’s okay.
  2. Move the lantana to a (non-edible) flower garden, or pot it and put it up and out of reach. (Perhaps in a hanging planter.)
  3. Institute a new rule: edible plants only in the children’s garden (or at least no poisonous plants).
  4. Find myself a good list of poisonous plants (native to Virginia, or common household plants) and familiarize myself with it.

Phew. I was feeling like a bad mama… letting my kids put a poisonous plant in their garden. But now that I have a plan for fixing it, I feel better.

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6 responses to “A Lesson Learned About Poisonous Plants and Kids

  1. I read the list about the plants…I cannot believe how many there were that are in our backyard! I knew about the poinsettas….but not the rest….it is scarey….but you and your sister never were ones to put things in you mouth…..but you will have to be alert with Miss D especially!!! The great thing is you go right to Proactive statis and set up “a plan”…good job….

  2. My daughter used to put anything “edible looking” in her mouth when she was a toddler, including plants. It made for some very interesting research and calls to poison control. Thankfully, she never ingested anything harmful. It sounds like you have a good plan of action. If you find a good list, please post it. Even though my kids are older now, it would be good to know for our kitty cat, too.

    • HI Becky! Thanks for visiting my blog! I tried to do some online searches the other day and came up with a few lists. Here is one page that lists the “12 Deadliest Garden Plants”, many of which are very common. I found a lot of these surprising. Also, I found out that Larkspur (one of these 12) is listed on several other sites as a bad one. I had two “volunteer” larkspur plants pop up in a potted Rose of Sharon that a family member gave me. I transplanted the larkspur the other week, not knowing they could be so dangerous. Since then, I’ve pulled and ditched them, as well as the seeds that I had. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20385865,00.html

  3. Your son is adorable! Sounds like you turned the situation into a great learning opportunity for your kids.

    • Thanks, Katherine! Yes, I explained to him that the plant could make him or his sister sick if they put it in their mouths. He was fine with moving it. We have since pulled it out and put a yellow daisy in it’s place. I bought the daisy for a flower garden on the side of our house, but my daughter carried it over to their garden the other day, so how could I say “no”? 🙂

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