Making sure plants and dogs get along | Local News

A well-designed landscape will add beauty and value to your home. After research, you’ve selected plants for all the right reasons: size, shape, sun/shade environmental requirements, wet/dry conditions, and year-round beauty.

However, have you taken your dog’s health into consideration? If your dog disturbs a plant, his defense is poison. Many of our common plants contain a variety of toxins ranging from mild to deadly amounts. Early symptoms usually include vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal upset.

According to the American Kennel Club, azaleas, rhododendron, and “all members of the family are considered extremely dangerous to dogs” and “all parts of (the English yew), including the succulent red berries, are highly toxic, as they contain taxine alkaloids”.

Hydrangeas are listed as having “a high concentration in both leaves and flowers.”

The toxicity of American, English and Japanese hollies depends on the variety. Symptoms include lip smacking, drooling, and head shaking.

It is the peony bark that is poisonous. Plant in a dense group of non-toxic plants or in wire cages.

English ivy is not deadly but can be dangerous. The bulbs contain toxins to a lesser extent. The unpleasant taste of the bulb and the foliage of the bulbs usually leads to vomiting before any damage. Among the culprits are begonia, autumn crocus, daffodil, geranium, iris and lily. The hyacinth bulb is the toxic source. On the other hand, although not a delicacy, tulips are edible.

For every poisonous plant, there is a similar non-poisonous plant. All of our toppings and culinary ingredients are also safe for dogs. They include herbs, hibiscus, marigold, nasturtiums, pansy, petunia, roses, snapdragons, sunflower, and zinnia.

Non-toxic trees and shrubs include crape myrtle, forsythia, magnolia (laurel, star, tulip, and grandiflora), rose of Saron, and mahonia.

Apple, cherry and pear seeds produce hydrogen cyanide which can kill within minutes. They and apricot, peach and plum can be grown if they are fenced and / or surrounded by a hedge.


It’s so tempting to want to work in the garden as the plants come to life. A few hot days have started to wake up the plants. Shasta daisies, mint, roses and sedum show green tips of foliage. Spring is still four weeks away.

Garden — If the mulch is removed, it may need to be replaced. Clear the garden of overwintered herbaceous stems. Remove the wrapped leaves from the beds. Push the raised plants back into the ground. ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum can be lifted, divided and replanted in moist, loose soil.

Trees and shrubs – Cut the branches to force. Reduce stress by planting before buds begin to swell. Prepare the hole in advance, use the burlap or wire cage to and into the hole, and remove well below ground level. Tulip magnolia, spirea, and bush honeysuckle buds show color.

Vegetables – Add leftover sterilized potting soil to potted plants or work it into the garden. Do not store for future use, it may develop mold and disease. Rotate crops to reduce disease and replace nutrients in the soil.

To grow blanched leeks, slip a tube of paper towel over the plant when it measures 1″ in diameter.

Plant legumes followed by roots, cucumber family, leafy greens and herbs, and repeat the sequence. Inside, basil seeds, broccoli, cabbage family (cauliflower, kale), oregano, sage, members of the tomato family except potato. Sow them in April.


March 1 — Master Gardener Toolbox — Bee Keeping, McCracken Co. Toolbox series, 5 p.m., 2025 New Holt Road, Paducah, 270-554-9520.

March 2—Lunch Break Gardening Series, Marshall Co. Extension, Benton, 12:15-12:45 p.m., RSVP by Feb. 28, 270-527-3285. $10 including lunch box.

March 3-6 — “Bees, Birds, Butterflies, and Flowers,” Nashville Lawn and Garden Show, Expo Center-The Fairgrounds, 17 Gardens, Workshops, Talks, and Vendors. Advance tickets and information:

May 18 — “Met Me in the Garden”, semi-annual visit to the Paducah Garden Club garden and lunch (3 places). To order tickets ($35), email or call 270-217-2955.

About Charles Holmes

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