It was the sight of my daughter with half the leaf from my variegated umbrella plant (Schefflera arbicola) that reminded me that I've been meaning to blog for some time about poisonous plants and the potential hazards to children.
I don't think the schefflera leaf did her any harm - I managed to fish it out before she swallowed - although this plant is supposed to contain a skin irritant. it's definitely time to move that Schefflera from its current position at perfect toddler-baiting height. Indeed there are quite a few plants - both indoor and out - that you should think carefully before introducing if you have small children who aren't quite old enough to heed your entreaties to not put everything and anything in their mouths.
The dumb cane (Dieffenbachia) is a popular houseplant, but not everyone is aware (particularly if you don't read the labels on plants you buy) that the plant's sap is poisonous, causing a range of symptoms including inflammation of the mouth and a tingling sensation on the tongue if chewed.
Cacti can be a peril too. I had a range of shallow dishes on my lounge windowsill that have had to be moved to a less desirable location until my little girl realises that they're not to be used as cute little hairbrushes: likewise other spiky plants like Euphorbia Crown of Thorns, which also happens to be poisonous, too - a double whammy.
There are many garden plants parents of toddlers should be wary of - the RHS has an excellent list here of potentially harmful indoor and outdoor plants. It also offers this sage advice to drum into your offspring: if it isn't recognised food, don't eat it. My parents must have done well at teaching me this one as I clearly remember refusing to eat the elderberries that grew abundantly in an alleyway near our house until I'd taken a bunch home and checked with my mum.
Are there any plants you'd avoid? All advice welcome in the comments below.
Coming up in part two: are ponds a no-no around young children?