Happy propagating season! Well, at least here in California, that is. The calla lilies are popping up around here, which inspired this post. It’s so beautiful, but toxic when eaten by humans and pets. I’m a huge safety person- as you can tell my only posts are about gardening safety, but I think it’s something often overlooked. When planning a Spring garden for young children to play, consider the safety of the plants. Here is a short list:

  1. Nasturtium. These are wonderfully peppery plants. The seed pods can actually be pickled like capers. In fact, they are often called “poor mans capers” and if you’re here in Northern California, they’re most likely growing somewhere in your neighborhood year round.

  2. Marigold. Colorful and edible annuals. Show children how to reseed the garden with spent flower heads!

  3. Borage. A beautiful striking blue-purple star shaped flower and great companion to strawberry plants.

  4. Allium. This member of the onion family is not as sweet to eat, but they are so interesting to look at. They can get up to five feet tall. They kind of look like lollipops.

  5. Sunflower. A true classic. These gorgeous giants are a friend to birds, too, making them a good thing to plant to invite feathery friends into your garden. Kids will be amazed when these grow 10-15 feet high.

  6. Star Jasmine. It smells good and is a nice viney option for flower crown making. Plan carefully though, this plant needs to be staked and can grow 25-35 feet tall.

  7. Lavender. There are so many different types of lavender, over 450 varieties, and it is as versatile as it is draught tolerant. Cooking, aromatherapy, crafting, and fragrant bouquets are just some examples of how to use lavender. Experiment with different types of lavender in your garden and see if children can find the differences and similarities.

  8. Vegetables. When gardening with kids you must give up the idea of the perfectly harvested fruits (of your labor). Tomatoes picked too soon can be simply placed on a windowsill to complete ripening, and a little leaf here or there will not kill a plant. Teaching children to respect plants while also encouraging them to harvest some must be a little confusing to a toddler.

  9. Herbs. While safe for most, some herbs like chamomile can cause a reaction in children who are also allergic to ragweed.

Be careful planting: Azalea, Boxwood, Cala Lily, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Delphinium, Foxglove, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Lantana, Larkspur, Mistletoe, Oleander, Rhododendron.

Check out this list for more information on poison plants and have poison control center saved as a contact in your phone. The number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers 24 hour hotline is: (800) 222-1222