There are many reasons why you might want to find safe plants for your garden, especially if you have kids. Perhaps you want to make your backyard as thorn and prickle-free as possible, or maybe you don’t want your children chomping on something that could be toxic!
In this blog post, I cover plants that pose little-if-no threat to small garden visitors, so that you can have more peace of mind!
Senecio ‘Angel Wings’
A plant that was just ‘made for touching’ thanks to its soft, furry leaves, Senecio ‘Angel Wings’ isn’t just a family-friendly garden favourite, it’s also VERY trendy! You’ll see this plant popping up in garden centres, public displays and more. And there’s no wonder why – its silvery leaves are stunning to look at, plus it’s versatile and hardy up to -5C.
If there is lots of activity happening in your garden, then grasses are your best friends. Miscanthus sinensis is a great landscaping plant. It can really take a beating from a flying football and is generally pest and disease free. Make sure to cut back regularly to inhibit overgrowth.
The Viburnum family comprises around 150-175 varieties – so you’ll have plenty to choose from with this non-toxic plant! It’s great for beds and borders, and it even produces beautiful blooms and berries. Birds and other wildlife love this species!
Lavender not only has a strong and instantly recognisable fragrance, it’s also a tough plant that’s great for family gardens. You can use the fresh flowers in cooking and cocktail making, or even in wellbeing products if you make your own candles or essential oils. This plant does contain linalool, which is toxic to dogs and cats, but it’s in such small quantities that it should only cause illness if ingested in large amounts. If you have a pet that likes to eat plants, maybe stay away from this.
Much like Senecio ‘Angel Wings’, Stachys lanata is super soft – so soft that it’s commonly known as ‘Lamb’s Ear’. It’s a very attractive plant, with its mint green leaves covered in fluffy white hairs. It’s also easy to grow, great for borders, and non-toxic.
If you were tasked with growing a sunflower at school, it’s because you can’t really go wrong with these cheerful plants! They’re non-toxic, extremely easy to grow and they brighten up any garden. You can also harvest the seeds and make your own bird feed or roast them and use them in your own cooking.
No child has ever enjoyed picking a flower only to find it has thorns! Thornless roses are a dream for a family garden, providing years of joyful beauty and none of the tears. You won’t find many completely thornless roses (Bleu Magenta, Kathleen Harrop and Goldfinch are three in only a few dozen varieties), but there are many more nearly thornless roses which tend to only produce thorns on their oldest stems.
Camellia is a family of thousands of varieties – you’ll probably be most familiar with Camellia sinensis, however, which is used to make tea. As you’ve probably guessed, this means it’s non-toxic when ingested or touched, which makes it ideal for family-friendly gardens.
Lomandra White Sands
Although it might look like another grass, Lomandra ‘White Sands’ belongs to the Asparagus family – but it’s just as unkillable! Surviving frosts, floods and footballs, this plant is a must-have in a family garden. It’ll even tolerate droughts, just in case you were planning on heading on that two-week family holiday!
Avoiding potentially dangeous garden plants
The above list of plants might be safe for your children, but there are a whole load of common garden plants that should not, under any circumstances be ingested. If you have children, you should avoid having toxic plants in your home or garden. However, if it’s not possible to remove them (for exampe, if you are renting your home), you should teach your children not to eat or play with them.
For more advice and a list of poisonous garden plants, read The RHS’ dedicated guide.
What’s your reason for making your garden safer in terms of the plants you use? Let me know in the comments below!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan. Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.