When I first bought my house in Florida I was really impressed with the yard. The garden was well tended, clearly well-loved and nicely manicured. It had a good variety of plants and one of my favorite things was looking out at it every day, doing a little landscaping myself, watering it, and making it even prettier than it was.
Alas! Because on day one I was stung by something I had never heard of, on day two I came out in a terrible rash from something else and on Day three I got a thorn stuck in my thumb so deep I had to get medical intervention!
So, I learned that there are plants in your Florida yard that can hurt you. I learned to identify them and also learned that there are ways to deal with these plants where there is no need for blood and blisters!
With that, I am happy to share my gardening tips with you. Here are 7 ways to deal with the plants in your yard that can hurt.
1. Always wear gloves when you garden.
Buy your gloves before you even step into the garden. Get a good, thick leather pair. Yes, I may be a little neurotic but I had too many injuries that I really could have avoided just with gloves. The thorns on the bougainvillea, the sharp ends of a palm tree and the yucca plants were all out to get me and I could’ve been the winner if I’d worn gloves.
Get yourself a good pair, spend a bit of money, you’ll get great use out of them. And keep them clean.
2. Dig up those plants that constantly attack you. (i.e., The Yucca)
It’s hard letting go of anything beautiful in a garden but I eventually let go of the Yucca plant. I tried to make friends with it, I loved the beauty and the color (green and yellow) but the sword-like leaves eventually won. I dug it up – I lie, I got someone to dig it up for me – and I didn’t throw it away, I offered it to a neighbor who gladly took it. Odd, I
know, but my gardening life has been a lot better ever since, and I did plant exquisite roses in its place. It’s best to get rid of the plants in your Florida yard that can hurt you, especially when badly.
3. Beware the Oleander Plant.
The Oleander is so pretty that I have kept mine in my yard. But a friend pointed out to me that it is is a highly dangerous plant – every part of it can be poisonous– and so I am wary when I do a little maintenance. If ingested it can cause horrible side effects like vomiting, gastritis, headache, dizziness – and it can be deadly. I wouldn't
keep an Oleander if I had small kids visiting me. It’s a beautiful plant – remember the book, White Oleander – but dangerous. Be careful when cleaning up or trimming and if you get scratched, seek medical attention immediately.
4. Keep an antiseptic ointment handy for the Poison Ivy.
There are always going to be some plants that you react badly to. It may be a short-term rash or you may break out in hives for days. Keep an antiseptic or antibiotic cream handy. And always try and remember what it was that hurt or stung you. If it keeps happening, you may want to get rid of that plant too. There are many plants that have sap
can be toxic. And things like poison ivy or poison oak, although not deadly, are exceptionally unpleasant if you get stung. It’s highly likely you’ll remove any poison ivy you may have (if not, you should), but sometimes it springs up overnight. Poison Ivy is one of the plants in Florida that can hurt you. Try to get it all out.
5. Cactus are beautiful but beware.
To deal with a cactus you need a lot more than a pair of gloves. Cactus in Florida are stunning and are often focal points of a garden. I’ve been a bit wary of my cactus, keeping my distance, as I know their edges are razor sharp and I do not want thorns stuck all over me. But this is the thing with a cactus – it doesn’t really need you. They
tend to themselves and they don’t need anyone to take care of them. Mine were planted in the corner of the garden, exactly where I like them! My advice – if you have a cactus as a centerpiece, and there are kids or animals around – move it to a place of safety.
6. If you have Angels’ Trumpet, get it out immediately.
I have said that you should recycle plants by giving them away but if you have Angel’s Trumpet in your garden you should get rid of it. When ingested it gives a natural high which is not a pleasant high and is also an exceptionally dangerous high. There are people who purposefully seek the plant so you know, dig it up, cut it up and put it in the
7. Indigenous Plants
I was lucky in that I inherited a fairly indigenous garden. If you are planting a garden from scratch, try and go indigenous. This means you plant plants, bushes, shrubs, and trees that are native to Florida. Your garden will require far less water and maintenance. I am soon to get the services of a landscape gardener to give me advice on
an indigenous garden but I know some of the more popular indigenous – and not dangerous – plants include Yaupon Holly, Wax Myrtle, and the Florida Arrowroot.
There you are. If you have other tips on how to deal with the Yucca thorns or cactus bristles, let me know!
I love engaging with people and sharing the things that I have learned and am pretty sure we can all learn from each other. And let’s make a deal – NO MORE RASHES! The one I got, which I am pretty sure came from poison ivy, was pretty horrible.