top of page

15 Toxic House Plants: Beware of these Toxic Houseplants


toxic house plants

Indoor plants can be a great way to spruce up your home while also purifying the air. However, it's important to note that some houseplants can be toxic to pets and humans if ingested.


While most plants are safe, it's important to know which ones can be harmful and take precautions if you have curious pets or children. In this article, we'll go over 15 toxic houseplants and what makes them harmful.


All About Toxic House Plants

Toxic house plants are those that contain poisonous substances that can be harmful if ingested. The degree of toxicity can vary from plant to plant, with some being mildly toxic and others being extremely toxic. Toxicity can also depend on the amount of the plant that is consumed.


It's important to note that toxicity doesn't just apply to pets and children; even adults can be affected by some toxic plants. Symptoms of poisoning can range from mild irritation to nausea, vomiting, and even death in extreme cases.



15 Toxic House Plants


1. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

toxic house plants

Pothos, also known as Devil's ivy, is a low-maintenance houseplant that's popular for its trailing vines and heart-shaped leaves. While it's a great choice for adding some greenery to your space, it's important to keep in mind that this plant is toxic if ingested by pets or humans.


Pothos contains insoluble calcium oxalates, which can cause mouth irritation, swelling, and difficulty swallowing. If your pet or child accidentally ingests part of the plant, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. Keep your Pothos out of reach from curious pets and children to avoid any potential health hazards.



2. Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia spp.)

toxic house plants

Dieffenbachia, also known as Dumb Cane, is a popular houseplant that can cause significant harm if ingested. All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause intense burning and swelling of the mouth and throat if chewed or swallowed. In severe cases, this can lead to difficulty breathing and even death.


Symptoms of Dieffenbachia poisoning can include oral irritation, drooling, difficulty swallowing, and hoarseness of voice. It's essential to keep this plant away from pets and small children who may be tempted to nibble on its leaves. If ingested, seek medical attention immediately.



3. Caladium (Caladium spp.)

toxic house plants

Caladium is a popular houseplant known for its heart-shaped leaves in different shades of red, pink, green, and white. While it is a beautiful addition to any indoor space, it is important to keep in mind that the plant is toxic if ingested. The leaves contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that can cause severe mouth irritation, drooling, and vomiting if chewed or swallowed.


If you have pets or small children at home, it is best to keep Caladium out of their reach. If someone accidentally ingests any part of the plant, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. In the meantime, rinse the affected area with water and give the person milk or water to help reduce the irritation. Remember, it's better to err on the side of caution and keep this beautiful but potentially harmful plant out of harm's way.



4. Oleander (Nerium oleander)

toxic house plants

Oleander is a popular ornamental shrub known for its beautiful and fragrant flowers. Despite its beauty, it is highly toxic if ingested and can cause serious health problems.


All parts of the plant contain toxic compounds, including cardiac glycosides, which can affect the heart and lead to irregular heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, and even death. Children and pets are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of this plant, so it's important to keep it out of reach and avoid planting it in areas where they can come into contact with it. If you suspect someone has ingested oleander, seek medical attention immediately.



5. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)

toxic house plants

The ZZ plant is a popular indoor plant due to its attractive and shiny dark green leaves. It's a great choice for those who want an easy-to-care-for plant that can thrive in low-light conditions. However, this plant is toxic if ingested by both humans and pets, as it contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause severe irritation to the mouth and throat.


Symptoms of ZZ plant poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. If ingested, it's essential to seek medical attention immediately. To avoid poisoning, it's recommended to keep the ZZ plant out of reach of children and pets.



6. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.)

toxic house plants

The Peace Lily is a popular houseplant known for its beautiful, white flowers and lush green leaves. However, it is important to note that it is toxic to both pets and humans if ingested. The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates, which can cause oral irritation, burning and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.


Additionally, the plant's pollen can also cause allergic reactions in some individuals, including sneezing and runny nose. It is important to keep this plant out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion. If ingested, seek medical attention immediately.



7. Philodendron (Philodendron spp.)

toxic house plants

Philodendrons are popular houseplants with attractive glossy leaves, making them a common addition to many homes. However, they can be toxic if ingested by both humans and pets. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals that can cause irritation and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat, leading to difficulty in swallowing. In severe cases, the swelling can even lead to breathing difficulties.


Symptoms may also include drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. It's important to keep these plants out of reach of children and pets and to seek medical attention immediately if ingestion occurs.



8. Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia tirucalli)

toxic house plants

Pencil Cactus is a succulent plant with a unique, upright growth habit and small green leaves. While it is often grown as an ornamental plant, its sap is highly toxic and can cause severe skin and eye irritation, as well as digestive issues if ingested.


The sap contains a milky white latex that can cause blisters, rashes, and swelling if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes. Ingesting the sap can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It is important to handle this plant with care and keep it away from pets and children.



9. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

toxic house plants

Snake plant, also known as mother-in-law's tongue, is a popular houseplant due to its ability to survive in low-light and low-water conditions. While it is relatively low in toxicity compared to some other plants, it can still cause mild to moderate symptoms if ingested.


The plant contains saponins, which can cause gastrointestinal upset, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also cause skin irritation in some individuals. However, it is important to note that the toxicity level of this plant is generally low, and serious or life-threatening symptoms are rare. It is still recommended to keep the plant out of reach of children and pets.



10. Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta)

toxic house plants

The Elephant Ear is a tropical plant that is grown for its large, dramatic leaves. It is also known for its potential toxicity, especially if ingested. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation and swelling in the mouth and throat.


Symptoms may also include drooling, difficulty swallowing, and nausea. In severe cases, ingestion of this plant can lead to respiratory distress and even death. It's important to keep this plant out of reach of children and pets, and to handle it with care while wearing gloves. If ingested, seek medical attention immediately.



11. Aloe Vera (Aloe vera)

toxic house plants

Aloe vera is a popular succulent plant known for its thick, fleshy leaves that contain a gel-like substance often used for its therapeutic properties. While aloe vera is generally considered safe, it can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. The latex found in the leaves can cause digestive issues such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.


It's important to keep this plant out of reach of children and pets, and to only use aloe vera products that are specifically labeled for internal use. Additionally, people who are allergic to garlic, onions, and other plants in the Liliaceae family may also have an allergic reaction to aloe vera.



12. Rubber Plant (Ficus elastica)

toxic house plants

The Rubber Plant, also known as Ficus elastica, is a popular houseplant that is toxic to both humans and animals if ingested. It contains a toxic sap that can cause skin irritation upon contact and, if ingested, can cause a range of symptoms including oral irritation, drooling, difficulty swallowing, and even stomach upset.


In some cases, severe reactions may occur, such as swelling of the throat, tongue, and lips, and difficulty breathing. Therefore, it's important to keep this plant out of the reach of children and pets, and to wash your hands thoroughly after handling it.



13. Schefflera (Schefflera spp.)

toxic house plants

Schefflera, also known as the umbrella tree, is a popular indoor plant with attractive foliage. However, it can be toxic if ingested by pets or humans. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause oral irritation, drooling, and difficulty swallowing.


In rare cases, ingestion can also cause more severe symptoms such as swelling of the throat or tongue. It is important to keep this plant out of reach of children and pets to avoid accidental ingestion. If ingested, seek medical attention immediately.



14. Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii)

toxic house plants

Crown of Thorns is a popular succulent known for its vibrant, colorful flowers. However, it is important to note that this plant is toxic if ingested.


The sap of the plant can cause skin irritation, and if ingested, it can lead to nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. If you have pets or young children, it's important to keep this plant out of reach to avoid any accidental ingestion.


15. Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus)

Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) is a popular houseplant known for its delicate, feathery foliage. However, it's essential to note that it is toxic to pets and humans if ingested. The plant contains sapogenin, which can cause mild to moderate symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.


If your pet or child has consumed any part of the plant, contact your veterinarian or healthcare provider immediately. It's best to keep this plant out of reach of children and pets to avoid accidental ingestion.



It's important to note that while these plants are toxic, they can still be enjoyed in your home as long as they are kept out of reach of pets and small children.



Caring for Toxic House Plants

If you have any of these toxic plants in your home, it’s important to take extra care when handling and caring for them. Here are some tips to help keep you and your pets safe:

  1. Keep them out of reach: Place toxic plants in areas that are out of reach of children and pets. You can also hang them from the ceiling or place them on high shelves to ensure they’re not easily accessible.

  2. Wear gloves when handling: When handling toxic plants, wear gloves to prevent any skin irritation or accidental ingestion. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.

  3. Ventilate your space: Increase air flow in your home by opening windows or using fans to help dissipate any toxic fumes that may be released by the plants.

  4. Keep them away from food prep areas: Don’t place toxic plants in or near your kitchen or food prep areas, where they could potentially contaminate food.

  5. Monitor for signs of toxicity: Keep an eye on your pets and children, as well as yourself, for any signs of toxicity, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or skin irritation. If you suspect ingestion, seek medical attention immediately.

  6. Consider non-toxic alternatives: If you have concerns about the potential risks of toxic plants, consider using non-toxic alternatives, such as spider plants, snake plants, or Boston ferns, which are all safe for pets and children.



Summary

It's essential to keep in mind that the toxicity of a plant can vary based on the quantity ingested and the individual's sensitivity to the toxins. If you suspect that you or your pet has ingested a toxic plant, seek medical attention immediately.


In conclusion, while indoor plants offer many benefits, it's important to be aware of the potential risks associated with toxic houseplants. By educating ourselves on these dangers and taking the necessary precautions, we can safely enjoy the beauty and benefits of indoor plants without putting ourselves, our families, or our pets at risk.



Comments


Establish Growers is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Establish Growers (14).png

Welcome to Establish Growers, we are an online haven, devoted to all aspects of gardening, microgreens, houseplants, and vegetable cultivation.

Your all-in-one guide to growing and savoring nutrient-dense microgreens at home.

5 eBooks (7).png