Kids and pets alike seem drawn to grabbing and tasting houseplants. Some houseplants are totally safe, and some can make people and animals quite sick. Cats, in particular, seem to like to floss their teeth on the fronds of plants. Whether you’ve got curious kiddos around, or perplexing pets that like to chew on your houseplants, it’s important to know which houseplants are safe for them.
There are plenty of common houseplants that are actually quite toxic to humans and animals. As adults, we generally don’t eat pieces of our houseplants, so we don’t often think about it. Just because a houseplant is toxic, doesn’t mean you need to get rid of it completely (unless you have cats that are determined to eat it). There are lots of ways to keep toxic greenery out of reach of curious fingers and mouths, including hanging baskets, high shelves, and careful supervision. There’s a wide variety of gorgeous houseplants available at our garden center, and growers generally don’t label whether plants are toxic are not.
As fall zips by here in Iowa, make sure you’re up to date on what plants are safe for your family before you stock up your indoor garden with new plant babies.
Toxic Indoor Plants
While we want to focus on non-toxic plants, we thought we should mention a few common indoor plants that are poisonous and could make your family members sick. If you have these plants in your house, place them well out of reach of little hands and paws.
- English Ivy
- Arrowhead Vine
- Lilies (cause kidney failure in cats, do not let them sniff the pollen or chew on any lilies)
- Caladium (Also called Elephants Ears, Pink Cloud, and Mother-in-Law Plant, angel wings, or heart of Jesus)
- Snake Plant (also called Mother-in-Law’s Tongue)
Not all houseplants are toxic, so don’t despair. Here are 15 that are safe for kids, cats, and dogs. They still shouldn’t go on a houseplant munching adventure, but if they do ingest a few nibbles of these, they will be ok.
1. Christmas Cactus (or Easter or Thanksgiving Cactus)
Holiday cactuses are popular houseplants in Iowa, with colorful and unusual shaped blooms. The secret to getting them to bloom for the holidays is to cut back a bit on watering 6-8 weeks before you want them to bloom. Wait until the top half-inch of soil is dry before watering.
2. Boston Fern (also called Sword Fern)
Boston ferns like a relatively cool environment, between 6-75F, with lots of humidity. If its fronds are fading to yellow, it needs more humidity. You may need to mist it daily in the fall and winter, keep it on a pebble tray, or run a humidifier near it.
3. African Violet
Keep this lovely bloomer happy by keeping it in a pot about 1/3 the size of the plant, letting it soak up water from below, and fertilizing it with African Violet fertilizer regularly. Don’t get the leaves wet; they’re a bit delicate.
Peperomia is pretty easy to care for, but remember, they prefer to be away from a window. Direct light on their leaves can cause them to burn. Water your peperomia when the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry.
5. Baby’s Tears
Baby’s Tears prefers a wide, shallow pot so that it can spread out and drape over the edges. Keep it out of direct sunlight.
6. Prayer Plant
Prayer Plant is another low-light easy-care option. They do not like direct sun and will tolerate a random or inconsistent water schedule quite well. They do like humidity, so mist them regularly.
7. Parlor Palm
Also called Neanthe Bella Palm, Parlor Palms are another humidity lover. Mist them regularly and keep them away from sunny windows. They prefer bright indirect light.
8. Spider Plants
Spider Plants are notoriously resilient and will put up with significant abuse. Cats may be particularly attracted to spider plants as they’re a little bit like catnip. It’s completely safe for your cat to chew on them, but if they won’t leave it alone and the plant is suffering, try hanging it out of reach.
9. Sensitive Plant
These fascinating plants will tolerate some direct sun, but they like their soil to be moist without being soggy. Sensitive plants are popular with kids because they react so immediately to touch.
10. Haworthia Pearl Plant
This aloe lookalike is the perfect non-toxic alternative. It’s a typical succulent and will appreciate some sun, and for its soil to dry out an inch or two between watering.
11. Phalaenopsis Orchids
Phalaenopsis orchids, or moth orchids are one of the most common orchids available. Orchids may seem finicky, but they simply prefer care on a consistent schedule. Water phals on a regular basis, and keep them in indirect sunlight to keep them happy.
The distinctive white and green leaves of Fittonia, also known as Nerve Plant are a striking contrast to the usual houseplants. It does prefer moist soil, so check it regularly. In the fall and winter, Fittonia may need to be watered up to twice a week.
13. Hoya carnosa
Despite its waxy leaves, Hoya carnosas are actually non-toxic! This beautiful vining plant is a throwback to the 70s, with dark foliage and stunning clustered blooms.
14. Hens and chicks
Hens and chicks also like warm and dry conditions. They’ll spread and fill their pot with adorable little baby plants. Hens and chicks come in a wide variety of colors and textures.
15. Burro’s Tail
Another succulent that likes to trail over the edge of its pot, burro’s tail looks awesome in hanging planters.
You don’t have to give up on houseplants just because you have curious pets or children around. The plants above can add lots of beauty, interest, and fresh air to your home, and you can be confident that they’re safe for your family. If you’re not sure about the toxicity of a plant, a quick google search can help you find out. Or, if you’re near us in Iowa, come by the garden center and have a chat with our staff; we’ll help you find some beautiful and safe options for your home.