Safety First! Native Plants For Homes with Pets and Children

Young children and pets tend to experience the world with their mouths. This natural behavior is normal and healthy, but it can be nerve-wracking to let them explore without knowing what they’ll find! If you’re concerned about poisonous plants making their way into your littlest loved one’s belly, plant these beautiful non-toxic natives instead!

Asters (Aster spp.)
Asters, like this Bluebird variety, are quintessential meadow flowers that look just as gorgeous in cut bouquets. A versatile native perennial, asters will happily fill any space with masses of cheerful, pollinator-friendly blooms. Insects love to hide among masses of this plant, which attracts birds of all sizes to hunt and peck in the foliage. Fortunately, if your toddler or pup also gets a little peckish, the foliage and flowers are perfectly safe when ingested.

Wine Cups (Callirhoe involucrata)
Unlike the one in your kitchen, garden Wine Cups are safe for kids and pets to try! The vibrant color of this heat-resistant groundcover is gem-like in the garden, and the nectar and pollen are highly valuable to many butterfly and bee species. This flower is also a host plant for the larva of the Gray Hairstreak butterfly. Try planting it to bright a rush of color to rock gardens or areas with intense sunlight.

Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.)
Butterflies adore Tickseed—the cloud of fine foliage and sunny yellow blossoms are exactly the kinds of destinations they love to visit! However, if your Tickseed crops end up getting a different type of visitors (perhaps the kind with tiny fingers or four paws!), you’ll have nothing to worry about. 

Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.)
While Coral Bells are best known for their colorful foliage, the crowning jewel of native Coral Bells are their namesake flowers. These pink, bell-shaped flowers are rich in nectar that draws in nearby hummingbirds. Even if you’re not a hummingbird, the flowers and foliage are sure to catch your attention—and possibly the attention of small children or curious pups. If someone in your family mistakes your Coral Bells for dinner bells, don’t fret! The leaves and flowers are harmless.

Comanche Campfire Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa ‘Comanche Campfire’)
You’ll love the color of this blooming machine! Bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds all flock to this heat-loving plant, with its colorful blooms, narrow green foliage, and spreading habit. While the color of the ‘Fireworks’ Primrose may get your little ones’ attention, there’s nothing dangerous about it!

Bee Balm (Monarda spp.)
Bee Balm’s name is a little deceiving because hummingbirds and butterflies love it just as much! This long-blooming native perennial wears a lot of hats in the garden, providing a source of food and shelter for many small creatures. The foliage has a nice tall height and lovely aroma, making them an excellent plant for adding extra privacy and fragrance to your backyard. Its “exploding” flower heads are interesting enough to make anyone curious. Fortunately, if someone uses your Bee Balm as lip balm, keep calm! This one is non-toxic as well.

Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata)
This nectar-rich groundcover is a pollinator magnet! Creeping Phlox spreads quickly, forming a mass of colorful flowers and shiny foliage on garden beds, over rocks walls, and anywhere else in its path. This is a tough, evergreen perennial and a must-try in any garden situation. While little ones and four-legged friends may not find the nectar as delectable as the local pollinators do, they can safely sneak a taste.

These kid- and pet-safe perennials are good for your family, good for pollinators, and good for the world. Plant a few today to create a garden where you can safely “unleash” their curiosity!