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Are Petunias Poisonous to Pets and Humans?

Are Petunias Poisonous to Pets and Humans?

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If you’re like me, your garden probably has a variety (or two) of petunias.

But lately, more and more people have been warning me from letting kids and pets around the flower bed. They seem to believe petunias are poisonous.

I have no idea where this notion came from, though. Maybe the fact that these drop-dead gorgeous flowers are related to the deadly nightshades has something to do with it?

Either way, I decided to get to the bottom of it and find out, once and for all, if petunias are poisonous to pets and humans.

Let’s dive in and see if this lively bloom is bad for you or your furry friends. Spoiler alert: it’s not as dangerous as you might have heard!

Are Petunias Poisonous to Humans?

No, petunias aren’t considered toxic to humans (and their little ones). The gorgeous blooms are on the “Non-poisonous Plants” list from the National Capital Poison Control Center.

Can You Eat Petunia Petals?

Petunias definitely look appealing with their trumpet-shaped flowers and silky soft petals.

Unfortunately, the opinions are split here.

Some sources say petunia flowers are edible and taste spicy and sweet somehow. Yet, others believe that they should be used for garnish only and nothing else.

Personally, I’d stay on the safe side and remove the petals if I’m ever served a cake with petunia garnish.

Aunt Petunia’s pudding from Harry Potter is a different story, though.

Are Petunias Poisonous to Dogs?

Nope! The prolific bloomers are also non-poisonous for dogs, so you can safely grow them as a houseplant.

Can You Feed Your Dog Petunia?

I wouldn’t recommend feeding your pup petunias at all. In fact, I’d go as far as suggesting that you train him to stay away from all the plants and flowers in your garden.

Sure, the petunia might not kill him, but other plants might. So, a little bit of restraint and discipline will go a long way in saving your dog’s life.

Plus, it will protect the petunia flower bed, too!

After all, having that huge sack of love and snuggles rolling around delicate stalks is not ideal, to say the least.

The thing is, I know for a fact that a “stop” command alone doesn’t always cut it, especially if you’re dealing with a young pup.

So, you might want to consider using some sort of physical barrier, like a fence or a makeshift pinecone garden moat. Some folks also throw a couple of coffee filters soaked with ammonia around the bed to build an “invisible” fence.

Either way, make sure to give your dog other outlets. A daily walk, some toys, and a small digging pit in your backyard will do just fine and save you a ton of heartache over ruined flower beds!

Are Petunias Poisonous to Cats?

Petunias aren’t poisonous to cats, either. That said, the plant holds zero health benefits for cats, which are obligate carnivores, by the way.

Can You Feed Your Cat Petunia?

The same dog-owner advice applies here, too. You shouldn’t encourage your cat to eat any part of the petunia—petals, leaves, or stems.

For the most part, keeping a cat off the flower bed should be easier than keeping a god away. I think you’d have to worry about squirrels nibbling your petunias before worrying about felines roaming in and taking a bite off your blossoms.

But if you have a particularly curious and naughty cat in your backyard, an easy fix is to put a luring plant to redirect her attention away from the petunias.

Here are a few of my go-to cat-safe plants:

  • Spider Plant: Cats might just play with the dangly bits rather than eat the plant. But even if they do, Anthericum comosum is non-toxic, according to the ASPCA.
  • Cat Grass: A mix of grain grasses (oat, barley, rye, wheat, and alfalfa) can be great for munching. It’s good for hairball prevention, indigestion relief, and parasite control as well!
  • Catnip/Catswort: While it’s not all that nutritious, it’s famously a hit with cats. Odds are, no cat is going to even look twice at your petunias if you have a catnip plant nearby.

Are All Solanaceae Plants Dangerous?

All sorts of petunia plants fall under the same genus, which happens to be part of the Solanaceae family.

That’s why it has such a bad rap. After all, Solanaceae plants are known for containing dangerous psychoactive alkaloids.

Take the colorless yet bitter solanine, for instance.

This glycoalkaloid can cause anything from abdominal pain and diarrhea to hypothermia and slowed pulse. It’s considered highly poisonous, even in tiny amounts!

Common Non-Poisonous Solanaceae Plants

Not all Solanaceae plants are dangerous, and the petunia is a great example.

But there are other safe plants that you probably didn’t know belonged to the Solanaceae family. Some are actually considered edible and healthy.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Plant NameToxic to HumansToxic to DogsToxic to Cats
Goji BerriesNoNoNo
PotatoesNo, as long as it’s not spoiled or picked too early
(avoid eyes and green skin)
Yes (if consumed raw)Yes (if consumed raw)
EggplantNoNo (only in small amounts)Possibly
Bell PeppersNoNoNo

It’s still worth noting that not all pets are going to like (or even stomach) the same foods. Always ask your vet about the best way to introduce a new item to your furry friend’s diet.

Notorious Poisonous Solanaceae Plants

Aside from the petunia and the few edible veggies, a huge chunk of the Solanaceae family is considered dangerous for humans and pets alike.

Here are some of the plants that you need to be careful around:

  • Black Nightshade: Contains both atropine and the infamous solanine.
  • Belladonna/Deadly Nightshade: Has a blend of atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine that can cause anything from severe dermatitis to paralysis.
  • Mandrake: Contains hyoscyamine and scopolamine, and its toxicity symptoms range from hallucinations to a slowed heartbeat.
  • Jimson Weed: Rarely causes death but could put someone in a coma or cause seizures.
  • Black Henbane/Fetid Nightshade: All parts of the plant contain hyoscyamine, scopolamine, atropine, and tropane.
  • Nicotiana/TreeTobacco: Obviously contains nicotine as the main toxic principle and can cause hyperexcitability followed by depression, incoordination, and possibly death in pets.

Note that this list isn’t conclusive, though. You’ll want to look up Solanaceae plants individually before planting them or bringing them into your house, just like you did with the gorgeous petunia!

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the answer is no. Petunias aren’t really poisonous to humans, dogs, or cats.

While I wouldn’t eat the petals or let my pets nibble on the plant, I wouldn’t worry too much about having a pot or a flower bed of petunia in my garden. A fence or a garden moat won’t hurt, though.

All in all, I think people mistakenly label petunias as dangerous for two reasons.

For one, since it’s so pretty, some folks think it’s one of those “beautiful but deadly” flowers. Of course, the fact that it’s from the Solanaceae family makes it look shady and questionable.

But if we were to suspect all the plants that belong to the nightshade family, we would deprive ourselves of tomatoes and peppers!

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