Shrubs, shade and dogs

Thu. Jun. 4, 2020

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Shrubs, shade and dogs

A listener asked me about shrubs for shade, but she had a caveat, dogs… there are some shrubs to avoid when you have a curious dog or two…

Take the Yew, please, it’s toxic to nearly everything. The seed inside the berries is toxic to pets and people.

Yew berries

The yew we yanked…

Yew monster AFTER a trim

Hydrangeas are pretty but poisonous to pups. In fact, the leaves and buds are also toxic to cats and horses. These parts of the plant contains a chemical more commonly known as cyanide. If a pup chews on the plant, the chewing action releases the toxins. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea and depression.

‘Lime Rickey’ and ‘Strawberry Vanilla’

Euonymus is poisonous if large quantities are ingested.  There are many types of euonymus.

Euonymus ‘White Album’

The seed and subsequently the fruit of an alpine currant, a decent shrub for shade, is toxic to pets, however, there needs to be a male and female plant to get the fruit.

A cultivar named ‘Green Mound’ is male and does not produce fruit, so it could be planted.

Alpine Currant ‘Green Mound’ by Chalet Nursery

Leaves, flowers and nectar of rhododendrons and azaleas are toxic to dogs and honey from rhodo flowers can be toxic, even in humans.  Here’s a link to more information on rhododendron poisoning in dogs from

Rhodos and Azaleas photo taken at MN Landscape Arboretum

So what the heck can she plant? Aside from the non-fruit bearing currant, there’s a lovely shrub called Clethra.  It’s commonly called Summersweet and uncommonly delivers heavenly scented flowers in shady locations from July to August!    ‘Sugartina Crystalina’ is by Proven Winners.   ‘Ruby Spice’

Clethra ‘Ruby Spice’ by White Flower Farms
Clethra (aka summersweet) Sugartina ‘Crystalina’ by Proven Winners