Colorful hibiscus blossoms are beautiful and nontoxic.

Safe Flowers for Children

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Plants can purify the air in your house and create lovely color, but they can also provide a health hazard to small children and pets if the plants have poisonous flowers or leaves. Consider filling your home with plants that are nontoxic.

1. Small Plants

African violets grow well in small pots and are nontoxic to children. They come in a variety of colors from white to deepest purple. Other flowering plants you can use for your windows to a splash of color to your rooms include wax and tuberous begonias, marigolds and chrysanthemums. Many gardening departments carry these, and they don't need large amounts of water and aren't difficult to care for.

2. Broad Leaves

Larger plants with big showy flowers include the um plant, bilbergia, heart-of-flame, guzmania, flaming sword and yucca. These tend have large, broad leaves in shades of green, with large stalks of brightly colored flowers that will tempt any child to touch.

3. Small Trees

If your home is large enough to accommodate small trees in a pot, consider the hibiscus to bring a splash of tropical color. Citrus trees, in varieties like lime, lemon, orange and kumquat can make a lovely addition to your home and provide fruit and luscious blossoms to your family. The flowers will bring a spicy, citrus smell to the room, and your child can watch the fruit slowly ripen during the summer months.

4. Spices

Various spices are safe and edible, although many will provide better kitchen support if used before the blossoms begin to seed. These include common herbs such as peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon verbena, lavender and borage. Put these in small pots about your kitchen and pick off the delicate leaves and flowers as tasty additions to your salad. Caution your child not to eat any of the herbs or spices. Explain, "I am the only one who should pick and serve anything from the garden or flower pots."

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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