Of course, some of you live in an area where it is nice and warm outside all year long, but those of us who live in the cooler climates start getting that urge around April or May. If you have a dog or cat that likes to roam around in the yard, you may be worried about what flowers you can plant that will not be dangerous for your pet. Not just because they may be poisonous, but some can be downright painful, like the Arizona Sunset (Echinopsis spp.), the Pincushion (Mammillaria spp.), and the Hedgehog cacti (Echinocereus spp.). Your dog may not be the type to eat flowers (that you know of), but if you live in an area like mine (rural Ozarks), there are a lot of other animals that may pop in for a visit. Cats are not usually fond of eating flowers, but I have seen some cats that will chow down on just about anything they find. No matter what kind of animal you may have passing through your yard, you do not want them to eat the flowers, but you also do not want any animals to get sick after their visit. Here are some beautiful flowers that are safe for most animals.
Blue Daisy (Felicia amelloides)
The Blue Daisy is a small shrub-like evergreen with bright blue flowers and bright yellow middles. The stems are sometimes red, and they can grow up to about two or three feet tall. They grow in any climate as long as you bring them indoors during the winter in the colder climates (below 32 degrees Fahrenheit). However, in zones 9-11 they have been known to continue blooming all winter long.
Camellia (Camellia japonica)
These flowering evergreens are Asian natives that enjoy living in partly shaded areas in zones 7-9. They can grow up to 12 feet tall with leather-like dark green leaves and bloom in purple, yellow, red, pink, and white. Like most flowers, they do well with soil that drains well and is organically rich. There are many varieties and cultivars with single or double flower types.
Canna lily (Canna generalis)
The Canna Lily likes full sun with rich, well-draining soil, and will flourish in zones 7-10. These gorgeous plants have dazzling flower spikes in shades of yellow, pink, orange, red, and cream. Even when not in bloom, the giant leaves are dramatic on their own and can grow up to eight feet tall.
Impatiens (Impatiens spp.)
Impatiens plants are known by many names, and the most common (Impatiens) is actually a spelling error that happened long ago and just stuck. Some other names include Busy Lizzie, Touch-Me-Not, Patient Lucy, Patient Plant, and Tangerine Impatience. These are annuals that can be grown anywhere after the last spring frost. It needs moist soil with plenty of fertilizer. The flowers look similar to small violets and come in yellow, white, red, purple, and pink.
Petunia (Petunia spp.)
The Petunia is a group of flowering plants that are native to South America and they are related to potatoes, tomatoes, and gooseberries, but do not try to eat them because they taste pretty nasty from what I hear. I have never tried them myself. They are also related to tobacco, but you should not try to smoke them either. These hairy plants have funnel-shaped flowers that come in many colors and varieties. They need plenty of sun and water and do very well in zones 4-11 as annuals.
Naked Lady (Lycoris squamigera)
I think these are gorgeous flowers that look a lot like lilies. In fact, I have some in my backyard that were here when we bought the place, and I swear I thought they were lilies until today! Actually, I am still not sure because they have not come up yet and I want to get a closer look. Anyway, these are elegant looking flowers in pink or white that grow up to about three feet tall. One long stem holds a cluster of several large flowers with no foliage. That is why they are called Naked Ladies, I think. I am not 100% sure of that. They grow in zones 5-10, dying back to the bulb every winter to return in the summer.
Wild Hyacinth (Dichelostemma pulchellum)
Another blue flower, the Wild Hyacinth looks similar to its namesake (Hyacinth) but smaller and not poisonous. They grow up to three feet tall with blooms that have cup-shaped petals in blue, pink-purple, blue-purple, or white. The flowers grow as a cluster at the top of a long stem like the Naked Lady. They grow well in zones 10-11 but may be grown indoors in other climates.
If you have dogs that like to stay outside all day, you should give them something to keep them busy like a mini dog park. Maybe a tunnel to run through, a dog house for shade or protection from the rain, a shallow kids pool, cones or poles to weave around, and even ramps and bridges. You can make this stuff pretty easy with some scrap wood or you can buy it from a large pet store. Actually, you can get old wooden pallets and those large wooden wire spools from construction sites and warehouses for free. Your cat may even get into the fun, so maybe you should call it the pet park instead. Whatever you do, have fun!