Houseplant Safety

A Guide to Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants

Some houseplants are toxic and even deadly. In homes with pets and/or children this is of special concern. Here’s a guide to which ones are dangerous and which are safe.

In a home with pets and/or children. choosing houseplants becomes a little more complicated than simply picking ones that are visually appealing and appropriate for the conditions you can provide. Many houseplants can make children and furry family members sick. Cat lovers need to be especially careful as cats absolutely love to munch on plants. The best thing to do is to keep all plants out of their reach, but that’s not always possible, so here are some tips:

Be alert. Avoid plants that are unlabeled or have a generic “Tropical Foliage” tag unless it’s possible to find out exactly what the plant is.

Also avoid houseplants that produce berries such as Coral Berry (Ardisia crenulata) as they are just too tempting to pets and kids alike.

Avoid obvious dangers like cacti. Pets don’t understand that the spines are sharp and that could result in a painful trip to the vet.

Oleander should NEVER be used as a houseplant. While beautiful, they are also so toxic that a single leaf will kill a pet-and a human.

Most Lilies are also quite poisonous.

Most other houseplants known to be toxic aren’t likely to be fatal to kids or pets, but they will make them sick. For example:

The sap of Dumb Cane(Dieffenbachia) can cause mouth irritation and swelling

Ingesting the leaves of Philodendron can cause irritated and itchy skin.

Any of the varieties of Pothos (Golden, Marble, Neon, Satin, or Jade) will cause vomiting if ingested.

English Ivy can cause a variety of reactions from a blistering rash to vomiting and difficulty breathing.

The bark of Crotons (Codiaeum Variegatum) can cause burning of the mouth.

While the gel in the leaves of Aloe Vera have long been prized for their skin healing qualities (no kitchen should be without one), ingestion will irritate the intestinal tract and result in vomiting and diarrhea.

The leaves of the Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa) can cause loss of voice and burning of the mouth.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), everyone’s favorite at Christmas, can cause mouth irritation, vomiting, and nausea.

Elephant Ear leaves and stems will burn the mouth and throat.

This shouldn’t make houseplants seem frightening. They can still be kept and enjoyed as long as they are safely out of reach, and there are also many houseplants that are harmless to pets and kids.. Here is a list of the most popular:

African Violets (Saintpaulia)
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus australis)
Zebra Plant (Calathea zebrina)
Wandering Jew (Zebrina pendula)
Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)

Put safety first and houseplants can be enjoyed in any home!

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