How to Enjoy Houseplants in Any Household

Safety Tips, Non-Toxic Plants, and More

Houseplants can be a great addition to any household! They enhance decor and clean the air, but for safety’s sake a few rules should be followed.

Living with houseplants is a little more complicated than simply picking ones that are visually appealing and appropriate for the conditions one can provide. Many houseplants can make furry and/or small family members sick. Cat owners need to take special care as the animals absolutely love to munch on plants. There are other safety issues involved in keeping houseplants, so here is a quick guide to living safely with an indoor garden!

Knowledge is power. Read the plant tags that come with plants thoroughly and try to avoid those with generic “Tropical Foliage” tags unless already familiar with the plant.

Avoid fruiting plants. If there are children or pets in the household, avoid houseplants that produce berries (such as Coral Berry-Ardisia crenulata) or fruits as they are often too tempting for them to resist-and are often toxic.

Keep prickly plants up high. Pets and children don’t understand that plants like cactus and Crown of Thorns have sharp spines. It often doesn’t take much for those spines to latch onto skin, especially with cactus plants, and that can result in a painful trip to the vet for Fido or a lot of tears for a little one. Keep these types of plants far out of reach or don’t buy them at all.

Avoid Oleander. Oleander is a beautiful plant but it should never be used as a houseplant. It is so toxic that ingesting a single leaf can kill a pet or a human.

Repot regularly. This is especially important with large houseplants. If allowed to get top heavy they can easily tip over and cause damage to themselves and others.

Saucers please. Always use some type of saucer under pots and planters to avoid water damage, which in many cases can not be repaired.

Don’t be a Good Samaritan. Avoid the urge to rescue a sad looking houseplant from the store. It’s often in bad shape because of disease or insect infestation and can easily spread it to other plants. It’s a good idea to always quarantine any newly purchased plant to avoid this.

Stick to safe plants. If there are children or pets in the household, stick to plants that are known to be non-toxic such as :

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)
Peperomia
Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)

Even if there are no children or pets in the household, there are certain plants that can cause problems, For example, the milky sap in the stems of plants from the Euphorbia family (Crown of Thorns, Poinsettia, etc) can cause skin irritation, as can the leaves of English Ivy, and the sap of Dieffenbachia can cause numbing of the lips and tongue, so use gloves when repotting or pruning these plants.

With a little care and planning, houseplants can be enjoyed in any household!

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