QUESTION: If I chop leaves & flowers for compost or ground cover/mulch from toxic plants like poinsettia does the poison transmute to anything edible grown in such soil, like a systemic? Thanks. Harriet K
ANSWER: Poisonous plants generally are not a problem at all, but there are a few exceptions. Poinsettias are never a problem because they aren’t toxic as folklore teaches. Walnuts are because they contain natural chemicals, and when large amounts of bark leaves and roots are used in the garden, night shades such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant can be negatively effected. Walnut trees growing in the area can also be a problem. The jugulars chemical is not dangerous to people. Other poisonous plants will be neutralized by the composting process. That includes poison ivy, but it is very dangerous to breath the smoke when it is burned, so don’t do that. Diseases like oak wilt can even survive the aeration created from grinding it into a mulch. Composting neutralizes all the toxins including those from toxic pesticides. Bottom line is that there is not much danger in poisons from plants getting into food crops when used as compost or mulch.