11 Outdoor Plants that are Safe for Your Dog
Turning soil in the sun pulls you from life’s daily stressors. It gets your hands dirty, fills your lungs with fresh air, and grants your body some precious serotonin! So, when you’ve got a dog who loves getting out in the yard as much as you, you need to make sure that what you’re planting won’t get him sick if he gets a little too curious.
Not only will you learn what flowers make for a dog-friendly garden, but you’ll also get extra tips on making the space itself safe and enjoyable for your dog!
Dog Safe Plants and Blooms
- Bee Balm: You’ll find this beautiful perennial in white, or rich shades of red, purple, and pink. It thrives best in USDA hardiness grow zones 4 through 9 in either shade or sun, and will need moist soil. These plants can grow up to four feet tall, which means your dog will LOVE running through them... that is, if you don’t think he’ll chew up these lovely-smelling flowers!
- Columbine: Hummingbirds adore these vibrant colored flowers, and your dog will have fun trying to keep tabs on them, especially if you put out a hummingbird feeder, too! Although columbines are completely non-toxic for your dog, they do have spurs that can prick his nose if he isn’t careful. This perennial grows best in zones 3 through 9.
- Hollyhock: This perennial is interesting in that while it’s not toxic to your dog, the leaves and stems have fibers that could give him an itchy rash — akin to what you might get if you touched fiberglass. This isn’t dangerous, but it won’t be comfortable! These luscious blooms in shades of red and pink grow best in zones 2 through 10.
- Jasmine: This captivating perennial grows best in zones 9 and 10, and requires relatively warm temperatures, lots of water, and potassium-rich fertilizer. It’s absolutely safe for your dog, and beyond its environmental requirements doesn’t require tons of care to keep thriving.
- Orchids: It's widely believed that orchid species are non-toxic to dogs. Stay away from lady slipper orchids, though. Although gorgeous, the University of California, Davis, lists this flower in what they describe as toxicity class 4: "The juice, sap, or thorns of these plants may cause a skin rash or irritation." Common symptoms can include irritation of the mouth if eaten and skin dermatitis when touched.
- Petunias: Many assume these blooms are annuals — yours truly didn’t know there are also perennial varieties until researching for this article! You’ll find these lush blooms in all kinds of colors, and they’ll grow best in zones 9 through 11. They don’t need tons of water to thrive, and depending on what species you pick they can survive nighttime temps as low as 39°F!
- Roses: Like hollyhock, roses are not at all toxic for dogs, but as the saying goes: every rose has its thorn. Don’t worry if your dog loves to sniff and explore — there’ll be solutions for that later on in this article! Roses enjoy soil that’s slightly acidic and has good drainage. Water them well, and make sure they get 5 to 6 hours of sun each day. Just about any rose will thrive in zones 7 through 9.
- Spider Plants: Also known as spider ivy, this perennial is more commonly found indoors than out. With that said, it’s an easy plant to take care of, but you’ll need to find the perfect spot in your garden. They grow best in zones 9 through 11, and they really love humid, indirect sunlight — which is why they usually wind up inside!
- Sunflowers: We can take a lesson from these blooms — they always reach for the sun! With that said, make sure you plant them in a spot that will give them full access to the sun, so that you get full access to their beauty. Although there are some perennial species that will bloom two years after the seeds are planted, traditional sunflowers are considered annuals, so they don’t have a grow zone rating.
- Tiger Lilies: While they’re definitely not the cat’s meow, tiger lilies (and their sister species, day lilies), are not toxic to dogs. Lily of the valley is, so avoid this species! These distinctive looking blooms grow in partial or full sunlight, love moist, slightly acidic soil, and grow best in zones 3 through 9.
- Zinnia: Because these flowers are annuals, they don’t have a grow zone rating, either. Depending on which zinnia species you choose, you’ll have a dog-safe twin to either dahlias or daisies — which are as toxic as they are beautiful. Either one you choose will bring another delight to your garden your dog will enjoy chasing: butterflies!
My garden is so gorgeous! But will it stay that way?
You can take comfort in the fact that if your dog does go on a chewing spree through your flower beds, he’ll be safe. But as Zen as gardening is to the mind and soul, it’s frustrating when you have to clean up garden messes and replant flowers you so painstakingly cared for.
Once you’ve planted your favorite nontoxic flowers for dogs, here’s a few things you can do to keep your pal away from them — especially if you’ve planted roses or columbine:
- Use chicken wire or other fencing around the full garden, or even just the plants that are high maintenance or that you love the most.
- Keep your dog on a long line or leash while he’s exploring outdoors.
- Teach your dog the “leave it” cue.
- Have a designated “digging” area for your dog so he’s less inclined to dig where he shouldn’t! You can use treats to make this area more enticing.
These four steps will go far in keeping your beautiful blooms safe, but want an idea on making your garden even more enjoyable for your dog? Keep reading ...
Not only will growing herbs benefit you and your household, but your dog will also have endless fun sniffing them out — while staying away from your flowers! You can take this a step further by choosing herbs that provide health benefits for your dog... just in case he eats them!
Here’s some you can start with:
- Sage: Eases gas and bloating
- Thyme: Provides vitamins C, K, A, and iron
- Lavender: Calming
- Chamomile: Also calming
- Barley Grass: Can help with upset bellies
- Fennel: Also good for digestion
Along with well-draining potting mix or soil, most herbs require lots of sun and modest temperatures. So as long as your garden hits these three points, you can plant certain herbs in certain areas to make outdoor time extra enriching for your dog!
How do I know if I already have plants that are dangerous for my dog?
As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Maybe you just moved into a new house and there are already plants in the yard from the previous owner. Or maybe you're visting friends or relatives who have plants. Whatever the case, knowing which common plants are dangerous and should be avoided could save your dog's life.
The Humane Society has published a list of common plants that are poisonous to pets (download PDF). If you see any on the list that you have around the yard or in your home, or a neighbor has any growing in their yard, you'll want to take extra care to make sure your dog stays away from them.
When in doubt, ask the ASPCA
The ASPCA has put together a fairly extensive list of plants and labeled them as either toxic or non-toxic for various animals. They also provide a 24-hour emergency ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center you can call, in case your dog is sick or may have eaten something and you're not sure if it's safe or not.
How much does your pal love your garden? We’d love to hear about their adventures, and what dog-friendly ideas have worked for you!
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