Many houseplants can be toxic if your pets or children ingest them. Most pets and children stay away, but if your’s are inclined to do, use this resource to help identify them. There are several types of toxins that can be present such as solanine, oxalates, and cardiac glycosides, which may cause nausea, vomiting, irritation, or worse. There are over 700 common houseplants that can contain toxins, but here is a list of the 20 most common.
Keeping Toxic Houseplants Out of Reach
Growing houseplants on high surfaces to keep them safely out of reach of dogs. For example, a trailing plant cascading down from a bookcase or hutch. Cats, however, are a bit more challenging as their agility allows them to scale seemingly even the most inaccessible locations.
Cats tend to be more attracted to plants with lacey or grass-like foliage so selecting plants with large, bold, or heavier leaves may discourage cat browsing.
Highly Toxic Houseplants
May be fatal if ingested.
Mildly Toxic Houseplants
May cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irritation of mouth & throat.
Even these can cause sickness when consumed in volume.
African Violet (Saintpaulia)
Aluminum Plant (Pilea)
Areca palm (Dypsis)
Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus)
Baby Tears (Soleirolia)
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis bostoniensis)
Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra)
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
Figleaf Palm (Fatsia japonica)
Norfolk Pine (Araucaria)
Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)
Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea)
Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes)
Ponytail Palm (Nolina tuberculate)
Prayer Plant/Maranta (Calathea)
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum)
Succulents (most – including Echeveria, Haworthia, Sedum, Sempervivum)
Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus)
Wandering Jew (Tradescantia)
Left: Pilea | Right: Boston Fern (Nephrolepis bostoniensis)
Left: Norfolk Pine (Araucaria) | Right: Prayer Plant/Maranta (Calathea)
Toxins in Houseplants
There are several types of toxins that can be present in houseplants and cause illness in pets:
Solanine is produced by plants to act as a natural pesticide, protecting them from insects and animal browsing. When ingested it causes irritation and injury to the digestive tract, resulting in cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Some plants accumulate oxalate crystals in their tissues. When ingested these plants will cause irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat, which can – in severe cases – lead to suffocation.
Cardiac glycoside interferes with electrolyte balance in the heart muscle, causing irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures, weakness, and collapse.