Three Common Plants in My Garden that are Dangerous for Kids and Pets


The following types of plants are everywhere in my neighborhood, and very easy to pick up at the local big chain garden centers or nurseries.

I bought them even though they are potentially dangerous to my Little Fish… because I had no idea.

I also planted them where my dog can chew on the leaves if she so pleases because I had no idea.

When I’m out shopping for plants, I have never seen a warning on these plants that caution the buyer to keep out of reach of children or pets. And I have LOOKED, you guys. Before I buy a plant I read in depth to gauge whether it is hardy and low maintenance enough to last under Open Air Mom rule. And maybe I have missed it somewhere in fine print, who knows, but shouldn’t these red flags be EASY to find?

Since this has come to my attention, I have on occasion asked the employees in the nurseries at different places to see what they knew, and even they had no idea these plants were toxic.

I mean, should I say it again?


So Here You Go!

Three SUPER COMMON plants that you may or may not know are dangerous to kids and pets.

If you already know, great! You are ahead of the curve.

In gearing up to write this post, I have asked friends and family if they knew these plants were toxic. Nobody did. My hope is that I can help someone and possibly prevent a small child or pet from getting hurt by spreading this information. Once you know, please spread the word. It may seem like it SHOULD be common knowledge, but it just isn’t. Share it!


  1. Elephant Ear


    ELEPHANT EAR LEAF. Sidenote: Does anyone else see the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland in the shadow? Or is it just me? – Open Air Mom

Every year on my birthday, my husband treats me to a new specialty plant of my choosing. This beauty was like a thirty dollar plant, and I have trouble buying things for myself especially when, in a perfect world, I could have grown it myself (yeah, right).

I was SO excited when I bought my Elephant Ear. Like weirdly excited. Like, why is that woman walking through the aisles hugging a plant excited. The large green leaves are silky smooth, beautiful and luxurious. The idea of transforming my small cement patio into a tropical paradise made me swoon.

I didn’t even find out that it was poisonous until I happened to read about it almost a year later while searching for info on a different plant.


Apparently, if ingested it can cause:

Severe burning or redness of the eyes

Severe burning of the tongue, lips and mouth

SWELLING of the tongue, lips and eyes (Um, blocked airway, anyone?)




FATALITY (if consumed in large amounts)

OMG. I had no idea.

I was even pretty nonchalant about this for a while (because I really do see it in gardens all over my neighborhood so I figured, “Eh, nothing’s gonna happen…”), until Little Fish got old enough to venture out into the garden. The leaves are so huge and inviting, that the first thing she did was tear off a huge piece of one and hand it to me. NOPE.

Elephant Ear is part of the Araceae family of plants so there are more poisonous varieties depending on where you live. I included a couple of links at the end of this article to guide you to more information if you are interested.

  1. Lantana


For our wedding we bought potted Lantana for the centerpieces and sent them home with guests after the wedding. Whoops! Who knew it is poisonous!?

This plant is EVERYWHERE where I live. We have it in the front yard and inside the patio. It has gorgeous flowers of all different varieties, and can be used as a drought tolerant ground cover. This is the plant that always causes guests at my home to exclaim, “Oh what’s that? I want that in my garden.” It is also super cheap and easy to find at garden centers.

Unfortunately, the eating of any part of this plant will cause:

Muscle Weakness


Dilated pupils

Slow breathing

Circulatory collapse


Fatality (if consumed in large amounts)

BAH! Humbug. (Yes, I know it is July. Little Fish has been asking to watch Mickey’s Christmas Carol over and over again. It seemed appropriate. At least more appropriate than “hot diggity dog,” the other phrase that is burned forever into my ear drums. Oh, and Oh TOOOOOODDDDLLLES.  Hey Toodles, where the heck were you when I was spending all this money on these toxic death plants? No? Didn’t think so.)

I know I have read in some articles that the berries are more toxic while they are still green, and others have said it is actually the leaves and roots. There are also many varieties and some are more poisonous than others. No matter what, it’s good to know.

  1. Hydrangea

    HYDRANGEA – Source: Pixabay

I will be honest, I just found out about this one recently! I had no idea! I was doing some research trying to find a third common plant that is in my garden, and boy did I find it.

The beloved Hydrangea. Did you know this one? Am I the only one? Widely used in weddings, landscaping and even as an indoor houseplant. So delicate. So pure. So allergenic.

ARRRGGHHHH. I wish I could stay ignorant about it all and just let it be! It’s so pretty I want to eat it. I think I have even seen Hydrangea’s on cake. CAKE! Apparently, however, if you actually eat one flower bud it is like taking a cyanide pill. Hot diggity dog.

Hydrangea was actually on my list of plants I would like to try to propagate from cuttings. It looks pretty easy! Good thing I haven’t tried it yet. I didn’t know that I would need to wear industrial-strength gloves because:

“Individuals often develop contact dermatitis from handling the plants”… (with this ring, I thee…Ew.)

And, poisoning from eating the flower buds can cause:


Abdominal Pains


Labored Breathing


Wow. Fun stuff. I wonder if anyone has ever had a wedding go horribly wrong because one of the bridesmaids was allergic to the bouquet she was holding! Anyone? Yikes!

Luckily, my hydrangea plant has been completely engulfed by my invasive Mexican Petunias in the front yard, thus the reason for the gorgeous stock photo from I am not even about to see if the Petunias are poisonous, because they are not coming out even if I wanted them to. Which I don’t, because they are beautiful and keep hoodlums from trying to climb in my windows at night. Or at least I like to think they do.

So there you have it. Do you have any of these plants in your garden? I suppose my biggest mistake was trusting that garden stores would somehow warn me before purchasing these plants. I would have at least planted my Lantana somewhere that Little Fish doesn’t have access. Now the plant is totally established and thriving, but I am probably going to have to just eradicate the whole plant altogether. So sad.

I guess that is what we are all learning these days regarding PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING from the food we eat to the products we use on our bodies and in our homes – WE have to look after ourselves and each other because sometimes it seems the sale comes before the consumer’s safety – even when it concerns our children and pets.

Do your research, read labels and get to the truth… Because I mean seriously you guys, I had NO IDEA.

Thanks for reading! If you want to read more research behind the information I provided in this article, head over to the FDA Poisonous Plant Database and search for any plant you may be curious about. That website only goes up to 2007, but you can always search for more up to date info on PubMED.

– Open Air Mom

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Joshaunic says:

    Oh my gosh! I love hydrangeas and had no idea. Thank you so much for this info. I will definitely be more careful about when and how to use them now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yami says:

    Wow! I had no idea about these plants. I dont have any pets so at least I don’t have to worry about them getting ingested but I have been wanting to plant hydrangeas so at least now I know to handle them with care. Great info! And I did see the Alice in Wonderland caterpillar too. LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Open Air Mom says:

      Thank goodness you saw it! It popped out to me as soon as I uploaded the image and I thought it was amazing… even down to the details of the profile of the face in the shadow. I was worried I was the only one who would notice it haha. I would like to pretend it was my photographing skills but it was a complete accident. 🙂 Thanks for reading!


  3. lex says:

    no 3 scares me well enough, also I am hearing of it for the first time… we learn daily and am surprised there are beautiful plants this dangerous… thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Open Air Mom says:

      Isn’t it incredible how much we think we know… but really have no idea? So much to learn I completely agree. Thanks for reading! 🙂


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