Are Hosta Plants Really Poisonous? Let's Find Out

Are Hosta Plants Poisonous?
Hosta plants are much preferred by gardening enthusiasts as they are shade-loving plants which are easy on maintenance. But do you know that they can be dangerous to the health of your beloved pet if ingested? Read this post to know more facts on hosta plants and their toxicity to humans and animals.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Feb 22, 2018
According to ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the hostas are poisonous to some animals like cats, dogs and horses. On the other hand, deer is the chief predator of hosta plants and they eat hostas leaves with delectable greed. That's why it's necessary to make a proper fence for your hostas to keep deer at bay.
Are humans affected by ingesting hosta plant leaves?
Humans are generally not affected by the toxins in hosta plants. However, you have to be careful while growing them if you have a little one at home as the ingestion of these leaves or flowers can lead to upset stomach. This is because young children have a delicate stomach unlike adults.
Is your pet at danger from hosta plants?
Hosta leaves contain a chemical called Saponin which attributes to the toxicity. The saponin in the leaves acts to repel the predating animals and insects. It is a defense mechanism of these plants which has evolved over the time against external predators. Even though dogs and cats are tempted to eat hosta plants, you can take a few measures to ensure their complete safety. Insects like snails and slugs also feed on the hosta leaves. If hosta leaves are eaten by any animal, it can get poisoned by the slug ingestion too.
What can you do to keep your pet away from hostas?
There are many cat and dog repellents available in the market which perform the task of keeping your pet at bay from these toxic plants. Although odorless to humans, these repellents emit a strong smell that keeps the dog/cat away from the restricted area of the garden. But if you don't want your hostas to be sprayed with chemicals, then the option of homemade repellents is also available.
Lime juice
Oranges and Lime Juice: The citric acid in orange and lemon is offensive to the pet's nose. By spraying juice of orange or lemon, you can create an invisible fence around the hosta plants.
Vinegar jug
Vinegar: Vinegar contains a pungent smell which works wonders to keep the pet at distance from the hosta plants which are toxic.
Chili powder
Chili Powder: Chili powder are generally used as dog and cat repellent. You can use this method in your garden by spraying on the shrubs which you want to protect.
Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne Pepper: It irritates the nose of the pet and would forbid him to go near the sprayed area.
Rubbing alcohol
Rubbing (Isopropyl Alcohol) Alcohol: Directly spraying rubbing alcohol on plants might harm it, therefore you can put anything soaked in rubbing alcohol near the hosta plants. Thus, the vexing smell of the rubbing alcohol would discourage the pet from going near these plants.
Be cautious when trying these methods as the materials used in these remedies can be allergic to your pet. First, check him for any adverse reactions to these repellent, then only proceed further. If your pet has ingested these leaves, then first contact the veterinarian or animal poison control center. Provide all the medical details of your pet to the vet. The poisonous chemical in these plants, saponin, can lead to formation of gas in dogs and cause nausea. The other symptoms of hosta leaves ingestion are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite as well as locomotor problems. Although severe side effects are rare from consuming these leaves, it can happen if ingested in large amounts.
How to identify hosta in your garden?
Hosta Plant
Identifying a hosta plant can be quite challenging as it has several varieties. However, it can be done by studying their similar features. These plants are generally ornamental plants which do grow up too high. Some hostas produce flowers, but they are mainly known for their attractive foliage. The leaf color can be green, gold, yellow or even blue. The blue tinge comes from the wax coated on the leaves. The shape of the leaves can be rounded or elongated. Some leaves appear to flat or concave. Flowers generally bloom during summers and are quite appealing. Some hostas with blue and green foliage can lose their color due to overexposure to the Sun.
Hosta plants are one of the few plants which are a gardener's delight, both visually and physically as it is aesthetically pleasing and easily maintainable. These plants might be safe for the humans, but you must take care to keep your dogs and cats away from these herbaceous perennials.
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