‘Highly toxic’ UK garden plants to ‘avoid’ – ‘they will spread’

RSPCA reveal which common toxic plants to AVOID

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Many plants are beautiful, but not all are beneficial in a garden. Some of the most eye-catching cultivars can be invasive, poisonous, or attractive to unwelcome insects – issues you probably don’t want to deal with. Gardening experts at NeoGrass have shared several plants to avoid, especially for those who have children or pets.


According to the pros, bluebells can be “very invasive” and, therefore, they are probably “best avoided entirely” if gardeners have children, because even if they are planted, there is a high likelihood that “they will spread to other parts of your garden”.

They warned: “If any part of the bluebell plant or bulb is ingested, it can cause harm and sickness. This is due to the presence of toxic glycosides. It is also believed that the sap can cause skin irritation.”


Foxgloves are beautiful, trumpet-shaped plants that can, unfortunately, be “highly toxic” to humans.

Ingesting foxgloves can be “potentially fatal” and antidotes are required to prevent life-threatening cases, according to the experts.

Foxgloves contain toxins in the form of cardiac glycosides, naturally occurring poisons that affect the heart.

Relatively low quantities of the toxin can be fatal, so think carefully about whether this plant should be in the garden at all.


Hydrangea hortensis is a medium-sized bush with gorgeous blossoms. It’s a perennial decorative plant which blooms every year from spring until autumn with large, ball-shaped flowers.

However, hydrangeas are another common UK garden plant that many need to be wary of. The experts said: “Although very rarely deadly, ingesting any part of a hydrangea can lead to stomach pain, nausea, heavy breathing, diarrhoea and lethargy. 

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“In more severe cases, poisoning from hydragin, the poisonous component of the plant, could lead to a coma, although it would be necessary to eat large quantities of the plant for this to occur.”

Lily of the valley

Even ingesting small amounts of this attractive plant can lead to abdominal pain, vomiting, reduced heart rate, drowsiness and skin rashes.

The specialists explained: “Lily of the valley can also be fatal, and death can result from consuming just two leaves of the plant.

“Lily of the valley produces beautiful red berries during the summer, which may look particularly attractive to children. Due to its level of toxicity, we would recommend avoiding this one altogether in a child-friendly garden.”


Daphnes are popular for their intensely fragrant blooms, usually produced in winter or spring, but according to the experts all species of this shrub can be harmful to humans.

They said: “Its attractive berries contain the highest concentration of toxins, although all parts of this plant are, in fact, poisonous.

“Daphne contains chemicals that can cause skin irritation. If ingested, these sensations are intensified on contact with the mucous membranes in the mouth, throat and stomach, causing severe discomfort.

“Although very rarely fatal, there have been cases reported of poisoning from daphne, so please be wary of keeping daphne in a child-friendly garden.”


Daffodils are one of the first plants that blossoms in UK gardens without the fear of the late spring frost.

However, the physical reaction to ingesting them is certainly unpleasant, nonetheless, and can lead to vomiting, upset stomach and dehydration. In more severe cases, convulsions and heart irregularities may occur.

While removing them from the garden entirely may be a little excessive, those who have children and pets should be supervised when in the presence of daffodils and, of course, taught to “stay well clear of them”.

Plus, as there are over 60 varieties of daffodil, it’s important to realise that “the rules apply to all of them”.

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