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Garden Plants That Can be Poisonous to Humans

Welcome to our concise guide designed for beginner gardeners who prioritise safety. In this article, we’ll explore the topic of poisonous plants in the UK, providing clear information to help you navigate potential hazards. We’ll cover ingestion and contact risks, offer guidance on handling problems, and provide a categorised list of poisonous plants. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge to create a thriving garden while ensuring the well-being of yourself and your loved ones. Let’s dive in and discover the secrets to safe gardening.

In the United Kingdom, plants rarely cause serious poisoning. Some garden plants may present a hazard, but the risk of severe poisoning, skin reaction or allergy is generally low. 

The following information is essential for beginner to intermediate gardeners who want to ensure the safety of their gardens. This guide provides concise details on poisonous plants in the UK and offers practical tips to minimise risks.

Planting chrysanthemum with gardening gloves on to prevent skin irritation
Planting chrysanthemums with gardening gloves on to prevent skin irritation

Top Tips for a Safe Garden

  • Know What You’re Growing: Unless it’s a food plant, avoid eating any plants from your garden.
  • Teach Children About Plant Safety: Educate children about the potential dangers of playing with or eating plants.
  • Protect Yourself: Wear gloves and cover your skin while pruning or weeding to prevent contact with hazardous plants.
  • Keep Prunings Away from Animals: Ensure prunings and uprooted plants are out of reach for farm animals or pets.
  • Check Plant Labels: Look for toxicity warnings on plant labels; they often provide important information.

Understanding the Hazards

Ingestion hazard 

Children are particularly vulnerable to ingesting plants, which can lead to digestive upset or discomfort. While most garden plants pose a low risk, some can cause severe poisoning. Refer to the plant list below for more information.

Contact hazard 

Certain plants produce sap that can irritate the skin, causing a burning sensation or blisters. Additionally, some plants contain allergens, which may trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals. A small number of plants can make the skin extremely sensitive to sunlight, resulting in severe sunburn, blistering, and long-lasting skin discolouration.

Dealing With Problems

Human Ingestion or Skin Contact 

If you suspect someone, whether a child or an adult, has ingested or come into contact with a potentially harmful plant, seek immediate medical advice. When visiting the doctor or an emergency room, remember to bring a sample of the plant. Stay calm and avoid inducing vomiting.


If you’re worried that your pet may have been exposed to a poisonous plant, refer to the HTA Guide to Potentially Harmful Plants. This comprehensive resource provides toxicity information for various pets, including dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, tortoises, caged birds, and poultry. Note that if a specific pet is mentioned in the guide, it means that the type of pet has been affected by a plant, but other pets may also be affected if they consume or come into contact with it. If you have concerns, consult a veterinarian and bring a sample of the plant for identification.

Poisinous plants list: 

The following list aligns with the guidelines provided by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA). It includes both garden plants and houseplants known to cause harm through contact or ingestion. Remember, these plants are safe to grow as long as you treat them with respect. Appreciate their ornamental beauty and avoid contamination by wearing gloves and covering your skin.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and plants are categorised from A (most toxic) to lower levels of toxicity.


Being aware of poisonous plants is crucial for the safety of your garden, especially if you are a beginner or intermediate gardener. By following the provided tips and understanding the hazards, you can ensure a secure and enjoyable gardening experience. Remember to always prioritise safety and consult professionals if you encounter any issues or concerns.

Updated on October 3, 2023

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