The Q&A Archives: Planting concerns

Question: We are planning to put a garden on one of our playgrounds. Our school teaches 4yrs olds and I was wondering if you could tell me if there were plants or shrubs that I should avoid because they may be toxic to young children who may decide to pick them or taste them. We still want to attract butterflies but not stinging or biting insects. what do you suggest?

Answer: So many common plants are potentially toxic that it is probably best to try to teach the children not to eat anything from the garden and to keep a close eye on them. You would also keep the phone number for poison control handy. Bees are attracted to so many different flowers and herbs, it is not realistic to try to make a garden that would not attract them. They are also a natural part of the pollination process for many plants. On the other hand, they are unlikely to sting unless disturbed or frightened by sudden movements. Of course if you know you have an allergic child in your group you must carry the epipen at all times.

You might want to discuss your concerns with a garden designer, or perhaps look at some of the information at the web site devoted to children and gardening at

for more detailed advice about gardening with kids. Best of luck with your project!

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