Yes, there are several poisonous houseplants. It is a sad, but inevitable truth to plant parenthood: some of your indoor plants aren’t suitable for families with pets or small children. House plants are beautiful and interesting, but they can be poisonous, or even lethal, depending on the species. Some even cause skin irritation if handled too much. However, you can still have a beautiful and vibrant indoor plant collection even if you avoid damaging poisonous houseplants, assess your pets’ safety, and avoid causing harm to your family and pets.
Listed below are 6 poisonous houseplants that, while we love them, should be used with caution around children or pets. However, before we begin, we should clarify that “toxic” is a relative term based on the amount of exposure you received (how much you consumed), the plant species, and the health of your pet. The symptoms of some poisonous houseplants (like vomiting) will subside quickly. Some can have severe, even life threatening effects if consumed to excess, while others simply irritate the skin. We are by no means claiming that this list is exhaustive, and we suggest doing more research.
The Poisonous Houseplants For Pets And Children
Here are the 5 poisonous houseplants you should take into consideration.
Philodendron (And Monstera)
A large tropical plant genus with a wide variety of leaf shapes, colors, and habits, Philodendron is one of the most useful plants for indoor use. The plants in this genus are mildly toxic to humans, as well as to pets. An exposure can cause oral irritation, pain and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. Members of this genus are often called Arrow-head vines due to the shape of their leaves. There is a mild to moderate toxic effect as with philodendrons; however, the symptoms are similar.
Known as the “ZZ Plant,” Zamioculcas Zamifolia is one of those tough-as-nails houseplants that thrives in pretty much any environment, even in areas where there is very little light. Sadly, it is also one of the most poisonous houseplants, and all parts of this plant are dangerous for both humans and pets.
Is snake plant dangerous? The Sansevieria plant (aka Snake Plant) is also a favorite for low-light environments, but it is toxic if ingested. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Tropical plants like this one are no-no for pets and children who are craving a floral snack. The leaves are paddle-shaped and the flowers are bright and exotic. The fruit and flower are mostly toxic, though drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, headaches and severe nausea aren’t common side effects.
In spite of this plant being a member of the Asparagus genus (yeah, like the vegetable! ), it is not edible. A number of species of asparagus fern go by the common name asparagus fern, but sadly, most are poisonous, and it can cause skin irritation if exposed. Scheffleras are a lovely group of floor trees for medium light conditions. As one of the poisonous houseplants, be sure to keep kids and pets away from this plant, since ingestion can cause severe mouth irritation, excessive drooling, and vomiting.
Euphorbia! Many of the plants in this genus (some look like cacti, others are herbaceous, hardy outdoors!) contain a white sap that causes skin irritation (itchy rash!) with even a little contact. A similar irritation occurs in the body after ingestion. If ingested, this classic member of the Crassula genus causes vomiting, depression, and incoordination in dogs and cats alike.
It may seem strange that Aloe, praised and widely used for its medicinal, skin healing properties, would be listed here amongst poisonous houseplants. The gel from the plant is edible, but other parts of the plant cause vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea if consumed.
Consider Your Risk Factors
If you have an indoor plant collection, it might be wise to remove the above specimens. However, it is essential to consider your risk factors. Have you thought about whether your young children might nibble on the plants on the floor? Is your cat fond of playing with and chewing on foliage? Is your pup likely to nibble on that tree’s trunk? With a little bit of spatial planning, you might be able to manage your risk based on the type of plant and the type of critters at your home.
Spatial Planning Tips
Consider using plant hangers to keep poisonous houseplants out of reach of your pets and children. Consult our list of pet-safe indoor plants and choose floor plants from this list which will be the most accessible to pets and children. Use your furniture to keep plants safe from dogs and kids. Bookcases, cabinets, even the top of the refrigerator are great places to plant. Even cats can reach the farthest corners of the world. Education is key! You should warn your children against nibbling on plants, especially poisonous houseplants. Consider mounting your plants to make them easier to hide from pets and children.