Zinnias are gorgeous annuals that create a heartwarming display of exquisite, colorful flowers. However, even the most beautiful flowers can potentially be toxic or deadly to humans and pets. So before you add them to your garden, it’s important to know whether zinnias are safe for you and your pets. In this article, we’ll run through everything you need to know about zinnia flower toxicity to humans, pets, and other animals.
Are Zinnias Toxic or Poisonous – The Essentials
Zinnias are not considered to be toxic or poisonous to humans, pets, or other animals. In fact, zinnias are actually edible flowers. However, zinnias do have a slightly bitter taste, so they are more suitable as garnishes. Even though zinnias aren’t toxic, it’s best to wear gloves when handling them.
Zinnias are part of the sunflower tribe (Heliantheae) – a sub-group of the aster or daisy family (Asteraceae). The Zinnia genus contains 22 accepted species. Horticulturalists have also bred hundreds of different types of zinnia cultivars.
Zinnias are flowering annuals with single, double, or semi-double composite flowers. Zinnia flowers have brightly colored petals that radiate out from central disc florets. Zinnia flowers come in a range of striking colors, including pink, purple, orange, red, green, and white. Most zinnia cultivars grow between 1 and 4 feet tall and bloom from early summer until the fall frosts. Organic pesticides are beneficial throughout the growing season to ward off common zinnia flower pests and diseases.
Originally endemic to Mexico, zinnias have now become naturalized across the Southwestern United States. Some species also grow in parts of Central and South America. Zinnias are low-maintenance plants that thrive in dry, sunny conditions in USDA Zones 2 to 11.
Zinnias are associated with love and affection, both for romantic partners and friends, as well as celebration and reunion. In Victorian flower language, zinnias could convey sentiments such as the feeling of missing absent friends. Zinnias were also used to signal desire, affection, and romantic interest.
These bright, colorful annuals make excellent cut-and-come-again crops for cut flower vases and bouquets or dried floral arrangements. Zinnias are also helpful for gardeners because they attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hoverflies.
Are Zinnias Toxic to Humans, Pets, and Other Animals?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), zinnias are not toxic to pets. This means that zinnias can be grown safely around pets like cats and dogs. If your cat or dog happens to eat zinnia flowers or leaves, they shouldn’t suffer any adverse effects.
Zinnias are also not toxic or poisonous to humans. In fact, zinnia flowers are actually considered edible for humans. That said, the flowers have a slightly bitter taste that may be off-putting. Zinnia flowers are best used as cake decorations or salad garnishes.
Although zinnias are non-toxic to humans, getting the sap on your skin may cause a minor rash. Always wear gloves when you’re handling zinnias, especially if you’re pruning or deadheading them.
Zinnias also have slightly hairy leaves and stems, which may cause minor irritation if they touch your skin. Due to these hairs, don’t eat zinnia leaves or stems as they may irritate your mouth or throat. While the leaves and stems aren’t poisonous, only the flowers of a zinnia plant are edible.
Do Zinnias Cause Allergies?
While zinnias may not be poisonous, that doesn’t mean that they don’t cause any health problems at all. If you suffer from allergies like hay fever, zinnias aren’t the best addition to your garden because they produce pollen.
Although this pollen is great for beneficial insects like bees and hoverflies, it’s not ideal for anyone suffering from allergies. Zinnias flower from early summer until the first frosts arrive in fall, so avoid adding them to your garden if you suffer badly from hay fever.
What Happens to Pets If They Ingest Part of a Zinnia
Zinnias aren’t believed to be toxic to pets like dogs and cats. Your furry friends should be able to eat the odd zinnia and not suffer from any problems. However, they may still experience a bad reaction that leads to minor stomach issues.
Zinnias have fine hairs on their leaves and stems, which may irritate your pet’s mouth or throat. This may cause stomach aches, vomiting, or diarrhea but shouldn’t cause any severe or long-term health problems. Regardless, it’s best to keep your pets from eating zinnias wherever possible, just in case.
What to Do If Your Pet Becomes Unwell
If your pets have an unusual reaction after eating a zinnia, keep a close eye on them. Provide plenty of water to stop them from getting dehydrated until their reaction is over. Call your vet and follow their advice if they experience several hours of diarrhea or vomiting. If necessary, make an appointment if your pet’s condition worsens.
Tips and Considerations When Handling Zinnias
While zinnias may not be toxic or poisonous to humans, they have hairy leaves and stems that may cause skin irritation. Thankfully, there are some precautions that you can take to protect yourself.
Always wear gardening gloves when handling zinnias, especially if you’re deadheading them. This prevents the sap or hairs from coming into direct contact with your skin. If your zinnias are pretty bushy, wear long-sleeved clothing to protect your arms from leaf hairs or sap.
Once you’ve finished handling zinnias, it’s always best to thoroughly wash your hands – even if you are wearing gloves. This reduces the risk of any residual sap or hairs coming into contact with your skin. If you do handle zinnias with bare hands, don’t touch your face or eyes until you’ve thoroughly washed your hands.
Few plants brighten up a garden as effectively as zinnias. Thankfully, you can enjoy these cheerful annuals without worrying about them being toxic. Zinnias are not poisonous or toxic to humans, pets, or other animals. However, they may exacerbate allergies like hay fever, and their sap and hairy leaves may cause skin irritation. Always protect yourself by wearing gloves whenever you handle zinnias.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.
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