If you’ve never had a garden before, your hens will entertain you with their excitement and love them. They will peck around and eat from them throughout the day, which helps boost their nutrients. But what flowers are bad for chickens?
Aaaaah. Take a deep breath because spring is here. With spring comes new chicks, more time outside, and planting our gardens. We love to grow a variety of flowers in our backyards, not only for looks but also for our chickens. Let’s look at the most common toxic plants and healthy alternatives instead.
When you think of spring, you likely imagine daffodils, tulips, and irises. But all of these flowers are first on our list of what flowers are bad for chickens. These bulbs are high in oxalic acid and alkaloids that cause low blood pressure, diarrhea, and tremors. And in some cases, these plants can even cause death.
Another American favorite is the prized azaleas. While these flowers are beautiful, they are also toxic to your chickens. If your chickens were to eat these flowers, they would experience weakness, low blood pressure, and appetite loss. So you might want to only plant these flowers in areas where your chickens can’t get to them.
Foxgloves are tall flowers that grow above most other plants. Many people use them to add height to their gardens, but you might want to stay away from them. Foxglove is exceptionally high in alkaloids that make them poison flowers for chickens. It’s also hard to get rid of due to their deep roots and high pollination rates. So even if you plant these flowers in the front yard, they can spread into chicken areas.
A similar plant to the foxglove is lupine, and while they look identical, they are different. Lupines are apart of the legume family, which makes them high in quinolizidine alkaloid. If your chickens were to eat this plant, they would experience twitching and convulsions. Some even start to have jitters and nervousness that make your chickens pace. And if they continue to eat lupine, it can be lethal.
Everyone loves the fresh smell of a hydrangea bush. But unfortunately, you need to add this flower to your poison plants for chickens list. Hydrangea leaves are high in cyanogenic glycosides that are deadly if eaten in large amounts. But that doesn’t mean you should steer clear of them altogether. Instead, you might want to put these flowers on display in the front yard.
One of the more delicate flowers on this list of poison plants for chickens is lilies. Lillies of all kinds contain convallarin and convallamarin that attack the cardiovascular system. If your chickens eat lilies, they will become lethargic, weak, and stop eating. And in larger amounts, they are deadly. Since these flowers spread and pollinate with ease, it’s best to keep them out of your gardens.
Lobelias are beautiful plants that come in reds, blues, and purples. They have several varieties that grow mainly in the summer and survive until the first frost. But while these flowers are irresistible, they are also on your do not plant list. Lobelias contain pyridine alkaloids that cause labored breathing, weakness, and loss of muscle control in chickens.
Jasmine smells fantastic, and everyone wants them in their garden. But they are also deadly to chickens. Yellow jasmine, in particular, contains gelsemine that causes paralysis in chickens. It also spreads quickly if you aren’t careful. So it’s best not to plant jasmine in areas where it could creep into the run.
What plants can kill chickens? Nightshade is a well-known flower that kills hens every year. Nightshades include a variety of flowers and vegetables like tomatoes and potatoes. And while the occasional tomato treat won’t kill your chickens, you should always stay away from raw potato skins. The flowers, though, are another story. Nightshade flowers cause appetite loss, labored breathing, and weakened hearts.
Everyone loves the splash of sunshine that buttercups add to the garden. But you might want to reconsider if you have chickens nearby. Your chickens will naturally be attracted to your buttercups and might nibble a few bites. In small quantities, buttercups cause mild mouth irritation and diarrhea. But if your chickens power through and eat more, it is likely to cause death.
With a cute name like periwinkle, you wouldn’t think that it could ever do any wrong. But periwinkle contains high levels of cardiac glycosides that cause seizures and even death. You can’t trust this flower anywhere on your property either. They are low-lying ground creeper plants that quickly overrun your home and neighbors. Periwinkle is beautiful in some aspects, but it’s also an invasive species.
Another plant that isn’t as innocent as it sounds is the sweet pea. These flowers are toxic to almost all animals. Every part of the plant is poisonous, but the seeds are even more lethal than the leaves and petals. If your hens were to eat too many sweet peas, they could experience seizures and paralysis.
Now that we know what plants are toxic to chickens let’s look at a few solutions. It’s important to mention that these are just a few of the many poison plants for chickens. We highly recommend researching every plant and herb that you choose before they go into the ground.
Are Plants Poisonous For Chickens
After reading this list of poison plants for chickens, you might wonder if anything is safe. But there are lots of plants that chickens love. They are even beneficial and essential for growth and development.
Chickens are foraging birds that eat a variety of grains and bugs. Chickens look for herbs, grass, leaves, flowers, and seeds to eat. All of these things can help boost immunities, enrich their eggs, and promote healthy digestive systems if offered in the right amounts.
Will Chickens Eat Toxic Plants?
One myth is that chickens are intelligent and stay away from plants that aren’t good for them. So if you have poisonous flowers for chickens, your flock will leave them alone. But we find that this isn’t always true. Some chickens will test their limits and eat anything they can get ahold of. So you might want to take a few precautions for your hens.
How To Keep Chickens Away From Toxic Flowers
The best way to keep your chickens away from poisonous plants is not to plant them. But in some cases, they might already be there or out of your control. So there are a few things you can do to protect your flock:
- Make a fence around the garden. This might be hard to enforce, but it might be just enough to keep the hens away.
- Putting chicken wire around harmful flowers but is not effective for spreading plants.
- Plant a special chicken garden filled with edible flowers and vegetables.
- Keep the flower garden contained in the front yard instead. That way, your entire neighborhood can enjoy the beauty too.
- And finally, you could plant flowers that aren’t toxic for chickens to prevent accidents.
What Flowers Are Safe For Chickens?
Now that we know what flowers are bad for chickens let’s talk about healthy ones. Below we have some great alternatives. These flowers not only look good, but they also benefit your hens if they get eaten.
As a substitute to the periwinkle, violets are a healthy alternative. Chickens love violets, and they are known to help blood circulation and inflammation. So older hens could benefit from these flowers. And as a bonus, they are also edible for people.
Rose gardens are beautiful and also beneficial. Your chickens will love to nibble the leaves, and the tall plants provide a bit of shade. In the fall, your roses will also produce rose hips that you can harvest and dry. These rose hips are high in antioxidants and calcium that your flock will crave in the winter.
Instead of planting buttercups, opt for sunflowers. These golden flowers perk up any garden and add personality. Your hens can safely eat the petals and seeds, providing them with protein and hydrating oils. It might even help your eggs taste richer with all of the protein.
Marigolds are famous for their bug repellant abilities. Mosquitos especially hate the smell of marigolds. So planting these around your garden is suitable for everyone. Another reason to plant marigolds today is that chickens love them. When your chickens eat the bright orange leaves, it also makes their egg yolks a deep yellow.
If you love the look of wildflowers, you will love echinacea. These whimsical flowers smell amazing and are known to promote healthy respiratory systems. They can even have calming effects like lavender.
And That’s Just The Start
This list is just the beginning of what flowers are bad for chickens. You should always double-check any other plants you plan on getting. Just because it’s not on this list doesn’t mean that it’s safe. But this is an excellent introduction to planting gardens around your chickens.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!