7 Common but Toxic Plants to Avoid (With Pics!)

While some poisonous plants are well known (I doubt anyone is planting poison ivy or belladona in their patio planters!), others can be a bit of a surprise. I certainly didn't know these plants were toxic until I was researching this article!


A lot of these plants can be purchased in regular home improvement and garden stores, so take a look before you shop... especially if your patio is frequented by kids and/or pets!

1. Foxglove

All parts of the plant are poisonous and ingestion may cause irregular heartbeat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, heart failure and death.

2. Lantana

The leaves can be a mild skin irritant but the berries are highly toxic and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, dilated pupils, and trouble breathing.

3. Oleander

All parts of the oleander plant are highly toxic and can cause a wide variety of symptoms including vomiting, headache, confusion, dizziness, low blood pressure, stomach pain, blurred vision, severe illness and death. Contact with the plant can also cause skin rashes.

4. Lily of the Valley

All parts of the plant are poisonous but the berries present the highest risk. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and irregular heart beats.

5. Larkspur

All parts are poisonous but the greatest concentration is in new growth. Ingestion can cause weakness, drooling, abnormal heart rhythms, constipation, abdominal pain, paralysis, tremors, seizures and death. Skin contact can also cause irritation.

6. Azalea and Rhododendron

All parts of the plants are poisonous and ingesting large amounts can be life-threatening. Symptoms include mouth irritation, nausea,vomiting, very low blood pressure/heart rate, and irregular heart rhythm. As an interesting side note, honey made from Azalea and Rhododendron flowers is also toxic and has earned the nickname 'Mad Honey'!

7. Yew

The needles, bark, and seeds cause tremors, difficulty breathing, vomiting and heart failure. Dogs can also experience seizures. The flesh of the bright red berries are not toxic but the seeds inside them are (and there isn't much actual berry around the seed).

While this list shows some of the common decorative-but-toxic plants, it isn't exhaustive. If you want to learn more, check out the University of California's Toxic Plant List, Good Housekeeping's 15 Poisonous Plants, and ProFlower's List of 199 Plants to Avoid.


For more information on toxic plant varieties and information relating to pets, here's the ASPCA's page on poisonous plants.


For additional information on poisonings in general and what to do if you suspect someone has ingested something toxic, the National Capitol Poison Center is a great resource.

Decided which plants you DO want in your patio? Check out our selection of planters and planter stands!

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