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10 Houseplants Poisonous To Dogs, Cats, or Children

Ask the Expert: what are the names of plants and flowers that are poisonous.
I work as a floral designer and I am asked all the time what plants and flowers are poison to animals and humans. Kelly

Reply:

Kelly,

First I want to clarify the difference between “poisonous as in deadly” and “poisonous as an irritant”. Many plants listed as poisonous are not deadly or really toxic, but rather cause an irritation to the mouth, stomach, skin or respiratory system. Why is this important? Because the classification of plants being poisonous is matter of interpretation and myths. For example, poinsettias are considered poisonous which is not all together true. There is no documented case where someone has died from ingesting a poinsettia. Secondly, the amount one a would have to ingest in order to accumulate the toxin level for death would be immense. However, poinsettias can cause great irritation to the skin or mouth.

When we discuss poisonous houseplants, we should take the approach that the American Animal Hospital Association takes on its Healthypet.com site with regards to its guide to toxic plants and foods. They state, “If you have these plants or foods, you need not dispose of them-just keep them away from pets and children.” Of course, plants that are deadly may not need to be in the home of small children or young pets. However, plants that can cause irritation or stomach upset may only need to be placed somewhere pets and children can’t reach them.

Here is a quick top 10 guide to plant toxicity for florists (note there may be plants that are carried by florists that are not listed. In these cases you will have to research that specific plant or email me and I will find out and add it to the list).

Houseplants with High Poison Plant Classification

Dwarf Schefflera

Dwarf Schefflera

Green Schefflera

Green Schefflera

Variegated Dwf Schefflera

Variegated Dwf Schefflera

Dumb Cane

Dumb Cane

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Heartleaf Philodendron

Heartleaf Philodendron

Tree Philodendron

Tree Philodendron

Red Princess Phildendron

Red Princess Phildendron

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

According to many sources these ten houseplants are highly toxic to dogs, cats or children. The toxicity resides in ingesting the plants. So it is important to keep these away from dogs, cats or children who might chew on them. They are all wonderful plants and should not be excluded from our lives as long as we keep them under appropriate supervision.

Flowers that are considered highly poisonous are: Foxglove (Digitalis), Amaryllis bulb, Bleeding heart, Lily-of-the-valley, Delphinium, Larkspur, Monkshood, Anthurium, lilies and Calla lily. Many times with flowers it is the bulb from which they come that is toxic if eaten by a dog or a cat.

There are other houseplants and flowers that are considered a mild or moderate risk. Although not a complete list by any means, this is a short break down of plants or flowers that cause a mild or moderate irritation or toxicity in dogs, cats or children:

Peace lily, Chinese evergreen, Benjamin fig, Corn Plant, Dracaenas, Nephthytis, rubber plant, Pothos,
English Ivy, Mother-in-law tongue, Azlaea, Croton, Easter Lily, Hyacinth, Daffodils, Chrysanthemum, Bird of Paradise, iris, lupine.

You can find more information on the Healthypet.com prevent poisonings page or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Page.

Hopefully this information will help you and your customers select the appropriate houseplants and flowers for their specific situation.

I have had many of these plants and flowers in my home. Fortunately for me my puppies found that these plants were not interesting and did not taste good. I don’t worry about having “poisonous” plants in my home or yard. I do make a mental note of plants that can be harmful in case my vet needs to know my dogs have been exposed to.

If you don’t see a particular plant on the lists above. Contact me for a more comprehensive list.

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Comments

  1. What are some first aid procedures that can be taken when these plants are consumed?

  2. It depends on the plant. In children I would call the poison hot line at 1-800-222-1222 or your local doctor. Tell them what type of plant the child has ingested and they will tell you what to do.

    With animals call your vet. They will be able to tell you what to do.

  3. Thank you so much for this article. My wife and I are expecting a baby in the near future; I now know that we need to temporarily house our Dwarf Schefflera with someone else until the baby is out of his “put everything he finds into his mouth” phase.

  4. Hi,

    My baby just had a Schefflera arboricola leaf in her mouth. She has two front teeth but was just gumming on them. She didn’t swallow anything. I called poison control and told them the plant and her age (12 and 1/2 months) and the lady there told me that they are only toxic to pets, not humans. BUT everything I have found on the internet says that it is extremely poisonous to small children. Can you give me any more info on this?

    Thanks

  5. Kalea,

    According to the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extenstion Service Schefflera is non-toxic to small children. See http://lancaster.unl.edu/factsheets/031.htm. However Schefflera can cause minor irritation in humans. I would call your pediatric and discuss what steps and signs to be aware of.

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