Are your plants safe?


Houseplants are my friends. I sound pretty sheltered, right? They make great friends and can really brighten my day. They always love to hear my stories without complaint and add pizzazz to the interior decorating.

The bad news

But some houseplants need to be off limits if you have curious kids or pets. In some cases, eating the leaves will cause a reaction. The sap from other plants will cause a skin reaction.

There are dozens of plants in the garden that don't agree with our digestive systems, including some popular houseplants. Ornamental chili pepper Capsicum annuum has poisonous berries. Any part of Angel's trumpet, Datura candida, can be poisonous. The berries of False Jerusalem cherry, Solanum capsicastrum, can make you sick.

Dumb cane, Dieffenbachia, is very popular, but its sap can cause painful swelling in your mouth or throat. All parts of Oleander, Nerium oleander, are extremely poisonous.

No, no, kitty

Cats can be attracted to your houseplants. They have a little soil for them to scratch around in and their leaves seem to be tempting. Since cats are naturally picky, they usually turn their noses up to plants that are really poisonous, but some common houseplants can make them sick.

A cat would have to eat an extremely large quantity of leaves for the results to be fatal, but feasting on a regular basis can cause vomiting, listlessness, lack of appetite, drooling, foaming at the mouth, strange behavior, and disorientation.

According to, some of the most common house plants that could be tough on your cat are Aloe Vera, Antherium, Bleeding Heart, Chinese Evergreen is toxic, Corn Plant, Croton, Elephant Ear, Ficus, Ivy, Peace Lily, Philodendron, Schefflera, and Snake Plant. says the Cardboard Palm, Zamia, is toxic and is one of the few plants that is fatal for cats.

To keep them out of your plants, put them in a hanging basket out of their reach, or spray the foliage with a pepper spray. That may keep them away for a little while. Give them something they will enjoy, like oat grass and since the loose soil really draws their attention, cover the top of your planter with cardboard or small decorative stones.

The good news

There are hundreds of plants that won't harm you at all, so don't be afraid of my quiet friends. You might like to invite a few into your house.

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at