Toxic houseplants

Toxic houseplants

Protecting your kids & pets

I’ve already sung the praises of fantastic houseplants in this blog here, so check that out if you’re wanting to get started on maintaining some plants inside your home. It’s important to note, though, that not all plants are as friendly as they appear, and if you share your house with children or animals there are a handful that are definitely best avoided.

Chemicals in the leaves, flowers, roots and berries of toxic houseplants can cause skin irritation and difficulty breathing, all the way up to kidney failure and even death. Curious fingers and snuffling muzzles could be at risk if they discover harmful water or even soil from the plant’s tray, so if you’re concerned then it’s probably a good idea to avoid keeping the following plants in your home at all.

Oleander

This pretty, popular flowered shrub has sap that’s really poisonous to human and animals. If you’re keen to have this in your house, make sure to display it out of reach and always use gloves and take extreme care when handling, repotting etc.

Ivy

Ivy is a charming addition to the outside of many homes, and brings festive beauty when potted up indoors. However, the leaves can cause a really nasty rash, and if eaten can cause fever, convulsions and even stupor. Pets may experience weakness, disorientation, laboured breathing and vomiting. One to keep on a high shelf to show off the trailing leaves!

Philodendron

This group of common houseplants is poisonous to humans and pets, and the calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves can be fatal if large amounts are ingested. In smaller amounts, symptoms can include irritating dermatitis, tongue swelling and stomach upset and can even be fatal to cats and dogs.

Lily

A lily flower - lilies can be particularly poisonous to cats

Flickr: Laura

The gorgeous blooms of lilies make them a really popular gift and houseplant, but varieties like Easter, Calla, Tiger, and Asian lilies can cause stomach upset, headaches and blurred vision in humans. They’re also highly toxic to cats, so to keep your feline friends safe avoid lilies in the house.

Peace lily

This is another really popular houseplant and an excellent air purifier. However, ingestion of the leaves, soil or pollen can cause swelling of the mouth and tongue and vomiting and diarrhoea in humans, and dehydration, lack of appetite and ultimate liver failure in cats and dogs.

Mother-In-Law’s-Tongue/Snake plant

This stripy, pointed plant is a striking addition to the home, and in many cultures is believed to bring good luck – as long as it isn’t eaten! The effects on humans are mild and may include mouth pain, nausea and an itchy rash, but cats and dogs will struggle with pain, excessive salivation, sickness and diarrhoea.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and it’s also worth remembering that humans can develop all sorts of intolerances and allergies to plants, sap and berries – so it’s worth doing your own research when deciding which plants to stock your home with. Plants are a welcome, green and colourful addition to any house, with the added benefit of air purification – but none of this is worth risking the health of a beloved family member!

If you’re concerned that your child or pet has ingested part of a houseplant, it’s really important to get them checked out as soon as possible. Get to accident and emergency or your vets, or call the emergency services if you think the reaction is severe.