Toxic Houseplants: What To Avoid

Here at Belvoir Edinburgh, we love a houseplant or two.

Glance back over our blogs and you’ll see that many of our home improvement tips often include the recommendation to purchase a leafy friend to liven up a dreary interior. And why wouldn’t we?  They’re bright, colourful and can work wonders on your mental health. They are, as we’re sure you’ll agree, an all-around good idea.

But, before you run off to the nearest garden store to fill the car boot full of exotic flowers and greenery, do be warned: some plants can be toxic to young children and pets and caution should be exercised before bringing anything too unfamiliar into the home.

Now, most plants are perfectly harmless and a simple internet search can quickly dust away any fears you may have of a potential risk to your child or a curious house kitty. But, to save you some time – and because we’re a nice old bunch-, we’ve compiled a little list of popular houseplants that may be worth avoiding to protect the little ones in your life.

So, without further ado, here are 7 houseplants that can actually be toxic:

Oleander: These glorious looking plants may give your home a lovely tropical feel and a big favourite of us Brits, but the Oleander is extremely toxic even in small amounts.  Unpleasant symptoms have been reported merely from brief contact, but ingesting as little as a single leaf has been known to be fatal. Children and pets are especially susceptible, so make sure the plant is kept well out of reach.

Caladium: These stunners look like they’re straight from Jurassic Park, but they are very much a modern day decoration. Popular both outdoors and indoors, the Caladium, whilst undoubtedly beautiful, is highly toxic to both humans and animals. If ingested, symptoms can include swelling in the mouth, tongue, lips and throat. This can lead to a difficulty in breathing and, in some cases, death.

Snake Plant: Native to tropical West Africa, the Snake Plant (also known as Mother-in-laws tongue and Saint George’s Sword) is a great floor plant with leathery skin and thorn like leaves. Some believe that the plant can bring good luck to the home, but it can bring some especially bad luck, especially if eaten. Like much on our list, it is pets that t end to have the most sever reaction, but it can also cause pain and nausea in humans.

Pothos: Also known as Devil’s Ivy, this attractive and low maintenance plant is a regular feature in offices and other public areas, but also makes a pleasant presence in the home. Frequently offered as a house warming gift for those just starting out alone, the Pothos is also believed to be a great tool for removing impurities in the air. However, if swallowed by a small child or pet, it can be extremely dangerous. For a fully grown adult, symptoms can be relatively mild, but still rather unpleasant.

English Ivy: Frequently seen hanging from a basket or creeping over walls, this charming plant oozes tradition, romance and class. What it can also do, quite unfortunately, is also give you quite the nasty rash. The most serious symptoms occur if you decide to have a little taste, but this usually requires taking in a substantial amount. For cats and dogs, however, not as much is required and can cause gasping, vomiting and diarrhea.

Lily (Including Peace Lily):  There are few more elegant plants than a Lily and these lovelies are a great addition to the home, both inside and out. Some can be slightly toxic to humans, but the main concern here is the effect they can have on cats. It is quite common for liver and renal failure to occur if contact is made, ultimately leading to death. Please avoid if you have, or are considering getting, a purring pal.

Philodendron: The ever popular Philodendron is a complimentary feature in any room, but it can have an extremely negative effect on pets, especially – yes, you guessed it – cats. Swelling and seizures are an especially common symptom for our furry little friends, so do keep them out of the way. Humans also can have unpleasant reactions if ingested, such as burning of the throat and mouth. So, whatever you do, don’t put any on your Friday night burger.

We can all have reactions to the strangest of things, but, when it comes to plants, it is best to be on the safe side and do some research. If you have small children or animals in the house, this is especially important. So please, please be careful. The benefits of having plants in the home are many and we all love having them around. Just remember to check out the facts before making a purchase.