En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - May 03, 2014

From: East Greenwich, RI
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Lists, Edible Plants, Poisonous Plants, Grasses or Grass-like, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs
Title: Plants for farm animals from East Greenwich RI
Answered by: Barbara Medford


What type of perennial flowers and shrubs are safe to plant around farm animals (dogs, horses, chickens, turkeys) in New England climate?


Are you speaking in terms of safe to the animals (i.e., not poisonous) or safe for the plants (the animals won't harm them)? Here is how we plan to help you, and then you can do some more detective work depending on what your answer is to our above question. This member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team has never raised any farm animals, spent any time farming, nor gardened in New England. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants are to be grown; in your case, Kent County, RI.

So, using several different sources of information, we will give you some plants that are native to Rhode Island (teaching you how to search our database), the names of some poisonous plants and information on what animals eat.

From Ask.com, What do Dogs Eat?

From Ask.com, What Do Horses Eat?

From Hencam com, What to Feed Your Chickens

From backyard chickens.com What Do Turkeys Like to Eat?

Next, finding specific foods for those animals. Go to our Native Plant Database and scroll down the page to Combination Search. Using the drop down menus, first, enter Rhode Island as the State, then select the Habit (grass, shrubs, etc.), you already said you wanted Perennial under Duration. Next, check the appropriate box under Light Requirements, Soil Moisture and Size. Click on "Narrow Your Search" and you will get a list of all the plants fulfilling those descriptions that are native to Rhode Island. For different Habits and/or Light Requirements you will have to run separate searches.

Now, assuming you have found a list of possible edibles for your various animals, you need to know if any of them are poisonous. Here is information from previous Mr. Smarty Plants answers to help you:

Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List – Horses from the ASPCA.

Toxic and Non-toxic Plant List – Dogs  From the ASPCA

However, we can give you some websites you can check for whether or not a plants has poisonous parts and it is better to know the scientific name for the search.

The lists often are only plants native to North America, but ordinarily if you search on one genus name (jasminoides or mandevilla) the information on the poisonous plants will be the same for all species of that genus. Here is our list:


University of Arkansas

University of Illinois   

Toxic Plants of Texas 

Poisonous Plants of North Carolina

University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants

Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System 

California Poison Action Line 

You should also check with your veterinarian to make sure some locally available plant has  been proved to be poisonous that is not on any of the lists.





More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Grasses for Pennsylvania
July 18, 2013 - What type of grass does the best in my area?
view the full question and answer

Replacement for St. Augustine grass
July 29, 2009 - I live in Georgetown, TX. I have an acre lot with many large Live Oak Trees. Currently we have St Augustine grass growing, but with the drought, it's not working out well with rainbirds putting down ...
view the full question and answer

Plants for slope on Orcas Island, WA
July 21, 2011 - Hi! What a great site! Okay, I have a home on Orcas Island, WA. We live here from about June through September, but only visit once a month or so the other times of the year. We are looking for somet...
view the full question and answer

Replacing hawthorn bush with muhly grass from Plano TX
April 10, 2014 - I am thinking of replacing a hawthorn bush with a muhly grass plant or two in an edged area with river rock cover in Plano, texas. It is the black soil and not a sandy loam. We have a sprinkler syst...
view the full question and answer

Dealing with rain runoff on a slope in Austin
March 24, 2012 - Our lawn is a year old and slopes at about a 45 degree angle with a lot of small holes and tiny gullies from water run-off. I have tried packing them with soil, but it washes away in the rain. Would ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center