Are hydrangeas poisonous and should families with young children avoid cultivating them? This question often arises. The decorative plants are very popular in the local gardens, front gardens and cottage gardens, the blue, pink or white thick flower balls offer a colorful splendor all summer long. The following article provides information about toxicity and tells how the correct behavior is when symptoms occur and how poisonous and dangerous the hydrangeas really are.

Contained toxins

In fact, the parts of the hydrangea plant contain poisonous substances which, if ingested directly, can lead to symptoms of poisoning. It can be dangerous, especially with small children, as their small bodies are not yet as resistant as they are with adults. So the plants contain the following toxic substances:

  • Hydrangin
  • Hydragenol
  • Saponine
  • Hydrocyanic acid

Hydrocyanic acid is particularly dangerous here. However, the hydrangea contains only a few quantities and therefore does not represent the greatest danger. The other poisonous components can also be dangerous in large quantities. In addition, hydrangeas can also trigger allergies and should be avoided if you are aware of allergies and therefore not touched.

Tip: Various other edible plants such as nuts, tomatoes, rhubarb and apple pits also contain hydrocyanic acid in small amounts. Therefore, they should only be enjoyed in moderation.

Hazardous amounts

Not much is known about the amount of parts consumed and their toxic effects on small children and there is no general answer. Because every body reacts differently to the consumption and ingestion of the toxic substances. Many factors play a role here, including the child’s weight, height and general health. Just by touching the hydrangea, the poison is not absorbed into the body in sufficient quantities to cause symptoms of poisoning and allergies.

Tip: As a rule, even small children take some distance from the flowers after they have tried them briefly. Because these are poisonous, the taste is bitter and discourages further consumption.


If the children nibbled on the decorative plants while playing or out of curiosity, the following symptoms are observed when the buds, flowers and leaves are swallowed:

  • dizziness
  • general circulatory problems
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stomach and intestinal discomfort
  • cramps
  • Irritation and swelling of the mucous membranes due to allergy

Depending on the intake of the toxins in the plant, the symptoms of poisoning range from low to moderate. In order for strong symptoms to occur, large amounts of the plant parts that are poisonous have to be ingested.

Tip: If you are allergic to the substance Hydrangeol, you should avoid skin contact with the hydrangea, as this can lead to an allergic reaction of the skin.

First aid

If symptoms of poisoning have been identified in a child, action should be taken quickly. It is important that those present calm down the affected child and do not become hectic themselves. The fear of hectic adults is fueled in the little one, as he will not understand what is going on around him. Therefore, in the event of possible poisoning, the following should be observed:

  • Calm down the child and parents
  • possibly bring in a stable side position
  • dial 112 immediately
  • follow the instructions given by the employee on the phone
  • At the same time, also ask the poison control center

It is better to wait for the emergency doctor than to initiate further measures yourself that do not serve to reassure you. Because making you vomit, pouring water or giving medicinal charcoal is not always the right approach.

Tip: So far, there have been no known deaths from possible consumption of hydrangeas. However, the poison it contains can also trigger allergies.


Children are curious and like to use things from the environment for their play. This should be the case, but poisonous plants such as hydrangea can be dangerous in such a case. Small children should of course always be supervised, also in their own garden. Older children from primary school age can also be made aware of the dangers of poisonous plants and the consequences of consumption can be explained. The best option against poisoning by hydrangeas is of course to completely refrain from cultivating the decorative plants in your own garden. If you do not want this, you should build a high fence around the plants while the children are still too young to show understanding for poisonous hydrangeas.

Small children are curious and like to play. One or the other hydrangea flower ends up in the mouth, for example during a cooking game in the sandpit. Therefore, families with small children should better refrain from cultivating the graceful plants or place them in such a way that the little ones cannot access them, for example in a fenced garden bed. If the symptoms of poisoning do occur, it is always helpful to call the emergency doctor and to find out about the poison and the treatment at the poison control center.

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