Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

After having a bit of a mouse migration this year, my girlfriend and I got a cat to balance out the wildlife living in the house. So far it’s worked great, and mouse populations are on the decline. I never knew I missed having a cat so much, they’re excellent fuzzy companions and relitively low maintinence as far as pets go. While I have to come home almost everyday to take care of my plants, it really doesn’t take that much more effort to make the kitty happy so it works out great. First the plants, then the pets, next thing you know I’ll have a bunch of snot nosed kids, I’m getting old. Ho hum ho hum, thus is way of life.

So far we’ve kept the cat indoors for fear of her getting hit by cars on the busy street we live on. Still I can’t help but to feel sorry for her, pets in the city live such a sheltered life. They say cats live 3 times as long on average when living indoors, but is it quality or quantity. As winter disapears and spring comes into full swing I’d like to train the cat (Tobias) to hang out in the back garden. This brings to mind the risk of her eating all the strange and more importantly poisonous plants. While I’m not exactly sure if I’m willing to make the sacrifice it has given me the motivation to do some research and perhaps arrange things differently. I suspect creatures have some sense of what’s good and bad to nibble on, still if you’d like to be safe there are some plants you should definitly avoid.

While they’re of hundreds of poisonious plants out there for man and beast these are the ‘Top 10 Deadly Cat Killers:

Lilys – lilium ssp. (All parts even the stamens)
Castor bean - Ricinus communis (Extremely Toxic)
Angel’s Trumpet – Brugmansia ssp.
Morning Glory – Ipomea ssp.
Lily of the Valley - Convallaria majalis
Foxglove - Digitalis ssp.
Daffodils – Narcissus ssp. (Bulb)
Monkshood – Aconitum ssp.
Larks spur – Delphinium ssp
Bigleaf Hydrangea - Hydrangea macrophylla

Act Now 
If you ever see your cat displaying unusual symptoms, sleepiness, nausea, dizziness, excessive drueling and/or coma,  time is of the essence. Call your local vet and rush your friend to the kitty hospital before it’s too late. A poisoned cat is a time sensetive matter.

On the brighter side of things
Given the choice a cat’s favorite green snack is often grass. If you’re a greenthumb you might consider growing some “cat grass” to encourage your kitty friend to eat that instead of your poisonous exotics. Cat grass is easy to grow and with one package of seeds ($3.50) you’ll have more grass then you’ll know what to do with.

Plants for the perfect Cat Friendly Garden

Annauls:
Cosmos, Calendula, Marigolds, Nasturiums, Primulas, Petunias, Snapdragons and Zinneas



Perennials:
Allium, Agastache, Alcea, Echinaceas, Hibiscus, Heucheras, Lavendula, Monarda, Nepeta, Roses, Violas

For more great information on poisonous plants check out The Poison Garden website. It features in depth plant profiles on many of the worlds most common and strange poisonous plants. From side effects to folk lore, what a great site!

If you have any stories or suggestions for cat friendly gardens, please share your thoughts.

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Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
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