Low Toxicity Plants for the Garden
Plants that are considered to be low in toxicity are generally safe but may cause mild symptoms like nausea and vomiting if more than a small amount is eaten by a child. More serious symptoms are unlikely to develop unless large amounts are eaten. Handling plants and skin contact with the sap may sometimes result in mild redness or rash.
The list of flowers, shrubs, and trees below contains some well-known plants that are generally considered to be low in toxicity. These plants would be suitable for a garden where young children would play, however supervision of children is still recommended to ensure that accidental poisoning does not occur.
Here are some tips
- Teach children to always ask an adult if something is safe to eat.
- Teach children not to put any part of a plant into their mouths.
- Don’t encourage play where children make ‘tea’ or ‘perfume’ with plants and flowers growing in the garden.
- When choosing plants for your garden, read the label to see if there are any warnings about the plant and ask garden centre staff for advice. The UK’s Horticultural Trades Association has produced a list of potentially harmful garden and house plants https://hta.org.uk/potentiallyharmfulplants.
- It is a good idea to keep the plant label safe so that you will have a record of the plant’s name if accidental poisoning is suspected.
- Always wash your hands after handling plants.
- Call the National Poisons Information Centre on 01 809 2166 for advice if accidental poisoning occurs. Sometimes symptoms may be delayed so it is a good idea to call for advice on what things to look out for.
- Don’t rely on Plant Identification Apps on mobile phones when looking for information on plants as they are not 100% accurate.
Please note the list below contains a selection of some widely known low toxicity plants that flower at different times of the year. The list does not include every plant available for each season. The photos included here are for illustration purposes only and should not be used to fully identify a plant.
Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Pansy, Viola, Violet (Viola species)
Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari)
Forget-me-not (Myosotis species)
Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus)
Geranium (Pelargonium species)
Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus)
Petunia (Petunia species)
Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
Rose (Rosa species)
Peony (Paeonia species)
Lavender (Lavandula species)
Coleus (Coleus sctuellarioides, Solenostemon scutellarioides)
Sage species (Salvia species)
Avens species (Geum species)
Scabious (Scabiosa species)
Burnet (Sanguisorba menziesii)
Masterwort (Astrantia species)
Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera species)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Michaelmas daisy (Aster and Symphyotrichum species)
Ice Plant (Hylotelephium spectabile, syn. Sedum spectabile)
Polyanthus (Primula x polyantha)
Bergenia, Elephant’s Ears (Bergenia species)
Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox)
Oregon Grape (Mahonia species)
Heather (Erica species)
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis species)
Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea)
Glossy Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)
Sweet Olive (Osmanthus x burkwoodii)
Common Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)
Tassel fern (Polystichum polyblepharum)
Soft shield fern (Polystichum setiferum)
Star jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides)
Japanese forest grass or Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra)
Japanese sedge or Morrow’s sedge (Carex morrowii)
Mexican feathergrass (Stipa tenuissima)
- Poisonous Plants: A Guide for Parents & Childcare Providers by Dauncey, Elizabeth A. Published by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2010)
ISBN 10: 184246406X ISBN 13: 9781842464069
- 2023 HTA list (https://hta.org.uk/potentiallyharmfulplants)
- TOXBASE® © Crown copyright 1983-2023
Thanks to Elizabeth Dauncey for her help and expertise with the preparation of this document.
©The National Poisons Information Centre of Ireland 2023
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth