Poisonous Plants

Poisonous Plants - Philodendron

Figure 1: Philodendron

Poisonous Plants Toxic to Humans

One risk of having house plants is that some of them are poisonous. If you have pets or children, it’s important to know what varieties of plants you have, and whether or not they are toxic. Both flowering plants and foliage plants can be poisonous. Some common poisonous house plants are Dieffenbachia, Poinsettia, Cyclamen, Philodendrons, and Sago Palm, just to name a few. Unfortunately, some of these poisonous plants are among the best indoor plants for beginners to grow. Websites don’t agree whether Spider Plants are poisonous, but I would consider them so just to be safe. Keeping poisonous plants in flower pots high up on indoor plant stands or plant hangers can help minimize the risk to children and pets.

The New York Botanical Garden website contains a list of common poisonous house plants as well as guidelines for dealing with a poisoning. They state that it’s important to know what plant has been consumed as well as  the quantity, and list local and national poison control hotline phone numbers.

The Indiana Poison Control Center makes a point of saying  “Don’t assume that a plant is non-toxic just because it’s not on any of these lists.” There is a link to their PDF format list of poisonous plants at the end of this article as well as a link to the University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital. You must have Adobe Reader to open these documents. The lists that I provide here are NOT exhaustive, so if a person or pet ingests a plant, please call a poison control hotline to be safe.

Poisonous Plants

Figure 2: Dieffenbachia (AKA Dumb Cane)

The national Poison Control Hotline phone number for the United States is: 1-800-222-1222, but it’s wise to find your local poison control number and keep it readily accessible. Here is a link to the New York Botanical Gardens’ website where they have a spreadsheet of poisonous plants and what symptoms those plants will cause if ingested:  http://www.nybg.org/plants/factsheets/poison.html.

Most Palm PlantsAfrican VioletsRoses, many varieties of Succulent Plantstropical plants and Orchids are non-toxic, but if a loved-one ingests any plant that is not considered normal food for their species, it’s best to be safe and contact poison control. Even normal human foods can be dangerous to pets. In addition, some items used for Orchid care general plant health care, such as fertilizers, might also be toxic to humans and pets, so be sure to keep them in a safely out of reach.

Poisonous Plants Toxic to Animals

I believe that all of the plants poisonous to humans are also poisonous to pets, but I know for a fact that many plants that are safe for human consumption are poisonous to pets, so please be sure to check with a poison control center before allowing your pet to eat a plant or vegetable. Onions and garlic are examples of vegetables that are toxic to both cats and dogs. Please see the ASPCA article: People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets.

Lilies are particularly poisonous to cats and can cause severe kidney failure or death. If your cat ingests a plant in the Lily family, seek veterinary help immediately! The ASPCA has a Database of Toxic and Non-Toxic plants on their website: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants.

Poisonous Plants - Poinsettia

Figure 3: Poinsettia

The ASPCA poisonous plants database features plants poisonous to cats, poisonous plants for dogs, and poisonous plants for horses, as well. There is a phone number specific to the ASPCA for animal poisonings. The United States ASPCA number is: 1-800-548-2423.

Please take time to find the poison control numbers for your area, they could save a life. For more information on cat health, please visit: Healthy Cats.




Sources and Citations 

http://www.nybg.org/plants/factsheets/poison.html – research source

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants – research source

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets – research source

http://iuhealth.org/images/met-doc-upl/plant-guide.pdf – research source

http://www.uwhealth.org/files/uwhealth/docs/pdf/poisonous_plants.pdf – research source



Popular Tropical Plants

The term “Tropical Plants” refers to plants raised in an area that is always warm. Your local nursery will carry some tropical plants for growing indoors or you can buy them at Amazon.com. Some of the common ones attempted by home horticulture include:

Tropical Plants - Bamboo

Figure 1: True Bamboo

Some true Bamboo plants will survive under household conditions but will require extra care; the plant prefers to be outdoors. Bamboo needs a lot of light and may need to be placed outside periodically to maintain the best health. Many indoor plant stands can be used outdoors, and have wheels to make transporting large plants easier. For the best plant health care, be careful to not over-water Bamboo. If grown in a nursery, an atrium, or greenhouse with high humidity you will likely have a healthy Bamboo plant!

Note: Lucky Bamboo, found even in grocery stores, is not a true bamboo but a member of the lily family from the tropical rain forests of Southeast Asia and Africa. It is one of the Best Indoor Plants for Beginners because it is very easy to care for. Do not use tap water on this plant unless the water has sat out for 24 hours; change the water weekly. This common plant prefers indirect sunlight and a temperature between 65-70 degrees. Give it an occasional feeding of a mild solution.

Tropical Plants - Hibiscus

Figure 2: Hibiscus

Hibiscus is also a native tropical plant. Heat is the most important factor for this plant during the winter. Considered outdoor flowering plants in parts of North America, they must be moved indoors from the yard or garden for the colder months. The Hibiscus is grown as an indoor plant in parts of Europe, Canada and colder areas of the US. Hibiscus cleans the air and releases oxygen back into it.

Tropical Plants – Yucca

Yucca is a tough perennial shrub consisting of 40-50 species, that is flexible and low maintenance. Yucca are also among the best (indoor or garden) air cleaning plants. They are native to hot, dry areas of the Caribbean, North-, South-, and Central America. Prized as an ornamental garden plant, some of the Yuccas have edible parts: seeds, fruit, flowers, stems and some Yucca, even the roots. Be cautious though, because some Yuccas are highly poisonous plants. If you don’t know what the plant is, make sure you call your local poison control center if a person or pet ingests a Yucca.

Although you can plant it in flower pots, the Yucca does better in a raised garden bed where it will get full sun. See the wikiHow link for propagation instructions.

Tropical Plants – Cactus

Tropical Plants - Cactus Garden

Figure 3: Cactus Garden

Cactus has been part of our diet for about 9,000 years; 2,500 species are known. The plant has diverse uses such as food, drink, sealant, caulking, toy manufacturing and dye for the cosmetic industry. The Cactus is also a common house plant and found not only at the nursery but even in grocery and drugstores. Perennial Cacti are stem succulent plants and can last through severe drought by storing water in their stems, leaves and roots. They require many hours of sunlight on a daily basis and well-drained soil.

Tropical Plants – Palm Plants

Palm Plants are tropical plants that come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some produce flowers and fruit while others are prized for their foliage. Some are so big that they can only be grown outdoors or in very large buildings, while others make wonderful little houseplants. Like Spider Plants and Cyclamen, many varieties of Palm Plants come from Africa and other tropical climates.

Tropical Plants – Orchids

Phalaenopsis and Paphiopedilum are 2 species of Orchids native to the tropics, and enjoy daytime temperatures of 73° – 85°F, with humidity at approximately 85%. They prefer an East/Southeast facing window where they can get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. Some people simplify their Orchid care by keeping them in the window above a shower because these species love the warmth and high humidity.

Tropical Plants - Zonal Geraniums, Appleblossom

Figure 4: Zonal Geranium

The Zonal Geranium was initially discovered in South Africa, but grows well in any tropical climate globally. This is an easy plant to grow indoors, and given enough light, will bloom continuously in dazzling shades of white, pink, red, fuchsia, salmon and light purple. The flowers grow in clumps similar to Hydrangea. These plants are commonly grown in flower pots. From personal experience I would say that geranium plants will not grow from a leaf, as some recommend, but rather from a cutting of 2-3 joints; just plant it above the first joint, water it thoroughly and allow the plant to dry out before re-watering. Some geraniums are also now grown from hybrid seeds—planted in small plugs; they often are a better plant/bloom than the geranium grown from a cutting.

Tropical Plants – Gardenia

The perennial evergreen shrub, Gardenia, is from a line of 142 species of flowering tropical plants belonging to the coffee family. The gardenia is normally grown outside; some will become small trees reaching 15 m (49.2 feet).  They are native to areas of Africa, Southern Asia, Australasia, and Oceania. The leaves of this plant have a strong texture; the flowers are singles or in small clusters of white or a soft yellow. Much like Roses and Peonies, the fragrance of the gardenia is beautiful and you may enjoy it for weeks as it blossoms from mid-spring until mid-summer—IF—you learn the basics of this tricky plant’s growing conditions and regular

Flowering Plants - Gardenia

Figure 5: Potted Gardenia

The Gardenia flower is a common choice for a beautiful corsage—vying with Roses and Orchids; it is one of the most fragrant flowers for the garden or indoors. Many gardenias are classified as an endangered species such as the Hawaiian Gardenia; there are only about a dozen of the very fragrant small trees remaining. Gardenias are a rather high maintenance plant that you don’t often see in flower pots—needing specific soil acidity, lots of water and sun, cool temperatures with high humidity; pests love them—especially whiteflies, scales, spider mites and aphids.

Tropical Plants – Horticulture

Horticulture is the science, technology, and business of plant cultivation for  the advantage of mankind; working at home in your own garden or potting plants for indoors is an example of horticulture at its basic level whether it’s tropical plants, garden vegetables or a leaf from your Mother’s favorite African Violet!

Sources and Citations







http://www.chiff.com/a/lucky-bamboo.htm – research source

http://www.ask.com/explore/different-colors-geranium-flowers – research source

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg1118.html – research source

http://gardening.about.com/od/plantprofiles/p/Growing-And-Caring-For-Zonal-Geraniums-Pelargonium-X-Hortorum.htm – research source

http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands/flora/higardenia.html – research source

http://www.wikihow.com/Care-for-Gardenias – research wource

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/rid-mealy-bugs-gardenia-houseplant-44955.html – research source