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non-toxic desert plants

Posted by doctortuffy z9 N.Phx (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 20, 08 at 17:55

I am hoping some one here can help me with some ideas. I have two large lantana shrubs next to our pool. These were put in by the former homeowner. I don't like them where they are for two reasons: they drop a lot of stuff into the pool and are difficult to trim in that location. Now I have a third reason. We recently adopted two dogs and they LOVE to eat every leaf that falls off of the two shrubs. I just want to get it out of there since it can be toxic when consumed in large quantities.

I need something to replace those two shrubs after we remove them. The area is about 8 feet by 3 feet and has full sun at least 8 hours a day. I want something that is desert adapted, although we do have drip irrigation. It needs to be low-shedding, easy to maintain and most importantly, non-toxic to dogs. It would be even better if it were something that dogs are not interested in eating. On the other side of the pool we have three Mexican Bird of Paradise shrubs and two yuccas (also toxic but the dogs don't bother with them as much). Any ideas? Thanks, friends!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: non-toxic desert plants

Here is a link to the University of Arizona College of Pharmcy. They have a list of toxic and non toxic plants that should help you in your search.

For plant selection, take a look a Landscape Plants for the Arizona desert which is now on-line at

Here is a link that might be useful: U of A College of Pharmacy

RE: non-toxic desert plants

Well, that is interesting, about your dogs. I had a dog (just passed this year) that liked to nibble on my trailing purple lantana and did so for many years. I don't recall her ever getting sick from it but I had read a couple years ago about lantana being poisonous and after that I kept her out of it as much as possible.

Now the remaining one dog has also gone to taste it just recently. I wonder what it is about that plant, that is poisonous, that would attract a dog to it?

At any rate, I think you could put feathery cassias in that spot and have a really pretty planting. Granted you would have litter once a year when the yellow flower petals fell and when the seed pods fell, however, I believe the seed pods are heavy enough they'd likely not go in the pool unles there was a very good wind. Outside of that, it's a nice plant, is desert adapted (Australia I think) and very attractive. They would only need irrigation for the first year or so and after that, they can survive fine with nothing more than a hosing down every month or so when it doesn't rain. If you keep the irrigation on them, you'll have to do a lot more trimming, more flowers and more seeds. Without the water, they will just reach a certain size and basically hold there.

RE: non-toxic desert plants

I have Little John bottle brush shrubs near my pool and have been pleased. They don't get as tall as your lantana probably was, but the blossoms would look nice with your mexican b of p. My dogs haven't been interested in these shrubs at all. Another idea that wouldn't give you litter is an emu bush. The blossoms come in a couple of colors - also pet friendly.

RE: non-toxic desert plants

I would recommend checking out the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Website. They have a Animal Poison Control Center, I linked below to their page.

If you scroll down on the page you will see a boxed section with links regarding Toxic Plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: ASPCA Animal Poison Control

RE: non-toxic desert plants

I'm so glad you posted regarding non-toxic plants ! I'm ashamed that I didn't think of it !

Last year, my new chow pup became violently ill...wouldn't eat or drink water, tail drooped, sad, pain-filled eyes...We couldn't figure out what was wrong, until I found pieces of aloe vera scattered around the yard, with chew marks ! this was surprising as I know aloe vera to be considered a medicinal plant ! I've used it many times (on myself) for burns etc.

Rudy is now two years old, but still has an appetite for plants ! I have a nine page list of toxic plants that I refer to every time I head for a garden center ! I also printed out the non-toxic list for a "double-check"...My lists are from the "pawprinte and purrs" website; but there's also an excellent list on ASPCA website, but I couldn't get it to print !

In case you're wondering what cured him, I'm not sure, but I gave him several doses of liquid Golden Seal (from health food store); maybe he just got better on his own...bottom line is it was a lesson learned by me, if not HIM!

I just wish that the plant info tags state "toxic" or "pet safe"...

I also would like to suggest that posters to our site follow suit and indicate the same when they recommend plants to us...On the other hand, I guess it's our own responsibility to check it out ourselves...

But I DO wish the professional plant growers would provide the info, right along with sun/shade, water, annual/perennial etc.

Thanks for bringing up this important topic !

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