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4933 NE 23rd Ave
Portland, OR
(503) 926-3817
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Chickens in the garden

Chickens are a great addition to a garden but they pose some very real problems as well. If you currently have chickens you know that they can devour an astonishing amount of plants and can be very destructive in the garden digging and scratching for grubs and worms.

I’ve been advocating to growers to add a chicken safe symbol to plant tags similar to the one for deer but until that dream comes to fruition we have been compiling lists of plants that can both withstand the ravages of our tiny backyard dinosaurs as well as the ones that should be avoided as they can be toxic to our featured friends.

People frequently ask us about poisonous plants that might affect their chickens and while there are many common poisonous plants out there for both humans and chickens it is important to remember that there are relatively few cases of poisoned chickens in Portland. Some gardeners have reported to us that the supposed toxic plants are the ones that chickens avoid in the garden and so would seem like ideal additions.

An important detail to consider is that a confined chicken with fewer sources of forage will be more likely to nibble toxic plants where a free range chicken with many options are more likely to avoid the bad ones. Chickens also seems to have individual preferences so where one might like to eat the roses the next might avoid them.

Chickens will also sometimes destroy plants while searching for bugs. It looks as if they were eating the plants but they were really just eating aphids and insects on the undersides of leaves and rooting around in the soil underneath for grubs.

No one knows your chickens like you do, careful observation of chicken habits is the best way to make for a heathy flock and a thriving garden.

Common plants toxic to chickens

Amanita mushrooms
Asclepsias
Castor Bean
Death Camas (this one is sort of a no brainer)
Jimsonweed
Pokeweed
Milkweed
Monkshood
Mother of Millions
Oleander
Poppies (Mexican especially)
Tobacco

Plants that are resistant to Chickens
(note some of these plants are on some toxic lists as well)

Herbs
Catmint
Chives
Lemon balm
Margoram
Mint
Oregano
Rosemary
Sage

Perennials
Agapanthus
Alchemelia
Anemone
Calla lily
Columbine
Crocosmia
Daylily
Daffodil
Echinacea
Feverfew
Fritillaria
Fuchsia
Geum
Goldenrod
Geranium
Hellebore
Iris
Monarda
Muscari
Phlox
Peony
Russian sage
Rudbekia
Sedum
Shasta daisy
Yarrow

Groundcovers
Epimedium
Carex
Cotonaster
Juniper
Korean rasberry
Lambs ear
Liriope
Plumbago
Sedum
St Johns wort
Sweet woodruff

Shrubs
Azelea
Barberry
Ceanothus
Choisya
Euonymus
Fatsia
Forsythia
Hebes
Honeysuckle (sometimes listed as toxic)
Hydrangea (sometimes listed as toxic)
Lavender
Lilac
Mahonia
Nandina
Osmanthus
Pine
Pittosporum
Rose (we have heard of chickens ravaging these)
Santolina
Salal
Spirea
Spurge
Viburnum
Weigela

 
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