| Master gardeners
These common houseplants could kill you
Plants can lift up the spirit of your house—but some can actually hurt you. These 5 plants are deadly to you, your kids, and your pets, so watch out!
Is this plant poisonous to my dog?
Will this houseplant be safe if my cat chews on it?
At this time of year, master gardeners get a lot of questions like this related to pets and house plants, especially poinsettias.
Many house plants and common garden plants can be toxic to people and pets. Some plants are toxic to anyone who nibbles on them, including belladonna or vinca.
But many other plants might be safe for dogs but toxic to cats, or safe for humans but toxic to dogs.
Because of this variability in how plants are toxic to different types of animals, it is best to check to see which plants are safe and which are toxic to your specie of pet. Many plants may surprise you, such as the aloe vera plant, which is very toxic to pets.
The University of California has a new website dedicated to poisonous plant and has a list of both safe and toxic plants. Plants can be searched by both common and botanical name along with the type and level of toxicity of each plant. It has a list for what plants can be toxic to humans and a section for what plants that are toxic to pets. Visit the U.C. website at https://bit.ly/33R5Nja for more information.
The goldfish plant, spider plant, all peperomias and most of the small palms are easy to grow and are non-toxic to cats. They take moderate light and fit into many decorating schemes.
Other house plants that are a bit harder to grow but that are cat safe are the prayer plant, the Phalaenopsis orchid, the polka dot plant and many of the begonias. These plants like bright filtered light, may require special watering practices and warmer house temperatures at night.
Another question we get this time of year is about pets and poinsettia plants, as they are so commonly used to decorate for the Christmas season. People ask if they are safe to bring into the house if they have a cat or dog that likes to chew on things.
Claims of poinsettia toxicity are largely exaggerated, according to the ASPCA toxic plant database. The plants are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. The sap is irritating to the mouth and throat tissue, and if ingested, mild signs of vomiting, drooling, and rarely diarrhea, may result.
Since the taste of poinsettia leaves is reportedly very unpleasant, it’s unlikely a pet who attempts to eat or chew the leaves will continue to do so after the first taste.
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For more information on which house plants are safe for pets, see the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website at https://bit.ly/3ozMnr8.
The Shasta Master Gardeners Program can be reached by phone at 242-2219 or email email@example.com. The gardener office is staffed by volunteers trained by the University of California to answer gardeners’ questions using information based on scientific research.