Houseplants – Beautiful but Dangerous ... Deadly
by Dawn Lesley Stewart
If I had more thumbs, they would all be green. I love to grow things. Houseplants, however, are a challenge in this pet dominated household. My pets love to eat greenery. This can be dangerous since not all houseplants are safe.
Here is a list of houseplants to avoid based on my experiences. So if you have pets in the house, and are interested in these plants, I suggest doing more research on the plants before incorporating them into your household.
Our family (through several generations) has grown Aloe. It’s a great plant to have on hand since its succulent type foliage can be cut, and the gel within applied to burns for soothing relief. However, Aloe is toxic to pets. I make sure to keep my Aloe plant out of reach.
Many well intentioned people have gifted me with an Amaryllis bulb, which in turn grows into a tall flower-bearing plant. The blooms are lovely. I prefer not to grow this flower since it is harmful to pets; why take the risk.
This fern has a spiky stalk structure; in an odd way it reminds me of how rosemary looks. The plant is beautiful draping over the sides of a hanging pot. It can cause skin irritation and upset stomachs in pets, though. If you do decide to keep this hanging plant, make sure that pets don’t have access to it or any of the greenery that may drop from it.
We used to have a few Begonia in the house as well as many of them as outdoor bed plantings. No more. These plants are not a favorite of mine for a few reasons (one of which is that Tuberous Begonias need to be brought in during wintertime), plus Begonias are dangerous to pets. The plants have fleshy stalks and leaves that are a green-red. The flowers tend to be in the white, pink, red family.
The heart-shaped leaves of this plant are gorgeous. When the plants are full, they have a lush tropical appearance. They can also cause pets to suffer sensitivity of the mouth and more serious problems should they eat the leaves.
This is another gorgeous plant that has a tropical look to it. The flowers are deep throated and cup shaped with upright green foliage. The Calla Lily grows from a bulb, and the plant likes to be kept moist but not too wet. However, they are dangerous to pets should they decide to snack.
For years we grew Coleus indoors without incident, but when I learned it was poisonous, I disposed of the plants. Coleus is known for its attractive colorful leaves. It likes sun, and if you enjoy container gardening, Coleus makes a nice addition to a mixed arrangement of plants.
I love the graceful beauty of these plants. The variegated green foliage sits beneath taller stalks of Cyclamen flowers, often in white, pink and purplish colors. I still have one of these plants in a location where the pets can’t get at it. I love seeing the vibrant blooms during winter. These plants like humidity, and I keep mine under a fluorescent light fixture.
Another favorite of mine are daffodils, belonging to the Narcissus family. However, I will not grow them indoors because of the hazard to pets. Daffodils grow from bulbs that multiply over the course of several years.
From what I’ve read, Easter Lilies are only toxic to cats. Symptoms can lead to kidney failure. I don’t have much luck growing these tall lily plants with their white flowers. The blooms are exotic, though, and lend elegance to a room.
Ivy makes a gorgeous hanging plant with its bright green leaves, though in certain circumstances it can be invasive. If you enjoy training plants, ivy can be guided along trellis or other structures. English ivy is poisonous to pets. Long ago I gave my ivy plants away, and I do miss them. But pet safety is more important.
There are a lot of Geranium varieties including scented, potted, and hanging plants. Above the greenery grows stalks that hold clusters of blooms. The leaves are typically green, sometimes with a purplish-red hue. Geraniums can cause skin irritation was well as stomach upset.
I’ve heard varying stories about Jade Plants. One is that the plant is fine for animals. The other is that it can cause vomiting. To be on the safe side, even though I love the look of the rounded succulent foliage of this plant (and it is easy to care for), I won’t grow it.
It’s amazing how many friends give me Mistletoe during the holiday season even though they know it is dangerous for pets. I thank them and find another home for it (where no pets live). This plant produces greenery with white berries. The symptoms can be anything from an upset stomach to causing heart trouble.
This family of plants is lovely with their heart-shaped leaves. I didn’t realize it at the time that they were poisonous to pets and had a cat eat the leaves of a Heart-shaped Philodendron. The cat did not die or require veterinary assistance, but I noticed his mouth seemed sensitive and he didn’t eat as usual. I immediately disposed of the plants rather than having a repeat incident. The cat is doing great now!
I love the festive look of Poinsettia plants with their green foliage that turns into pointed red flowers. However, these plants are poisonous and have no place in my home. I content myself to admire them in other people’s houses and at work.
Note: I am not a vet or medical professional. This guide is to provide my experiences regarding household plants. Please do more research on these plants if you are considering them for your household. This list also does not include all the plants that are toxic to pets. If in doubt about any plants you have in your household and how they may affect your pets, please consult a veterinarian or other professional.
Happy Gardening !
Dawn Lesley Stewart has enjoyed organic gardening for over forty years, learning at a young age from her father. First love is vegetable gardening followed by her interest in butterfly and bee habitats. She considers her yard a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Her writing has appeared online and in print and has won writing awards. Dawn is the author of Harriet’s Horrible Hair Day (picture book), Mist-Seer (paranormal novel), and her newest book 300-Plus Quilting Tips, Tricks & Techniques features over 35 years of quilting knowledge.
Copyright 2010 Dawn Lesley Stewart