Six Toxic Plants to Pets

Back in January, when I started this blog, I posted this article about six poisonous plants to pets. Since then, I’ve only shared my favorite pet-safe plants, so I think it’s time for another installment. Plus, I just Googled “pet safe plants” and it amazed me how much mis-information came up. A plant’s toxicity is not always black and white, but it kiiinnddaa is. I mean, it will harm your pet or it won’t. Honestly, I just want to know what and what not to buy, don’t you? After seeing the search results I decided to sit down and write this list of another six toxic plants. So let’s begin.

1. Pothos

Variegated Pothos

I love Pothos, and for good reason. They are lovely trailers, grow like weeds, and increase the jungle factor of any home. The downside? Pretty unsafe for Mittens or Fido. If ingested, Pothos can cause some serious internal damage and vomiting.  will say this – I actually have several Pothos that live harmoniously in my home. The trick is to hang them in planters from the ceiling, completely out of reach. I have never had a problem with pet consumption for this reason. However, if your cat is a climber or dog is a destroyer, I would skip this plant altogether.

2. Sansevieria

Snake Plant // Leaf and Paw

The quintessential low light plant, Sansevieria are pretty common in all nurseries and garden centers. Snake plants are on every “hard to kill” and “low light” houseplant list, many of which do not mention they’re toxic. I find they are cat magnets – I’m not sure if it’s the grasslike verticality or large size. Like Pothos I have several of these on pedestals and never had an issue. The same rules apply – have crazy pets? Find another plant, like cat grass, that is better suited for nosey animals.

Snake Plant // Leaf and Paw

3. Jade

Jade Plant // Leaf and Paw

I have this one Jade plant which is somehow still alive. It has been knocked over a dozen times, left to die on the floor from my careless cat, prodded at by paws, and recently recovered from a mealybug infestation. Cats especially like Jades and destroying them – that fact alone should deter you from purchasing one. If you need another reason: if eaten, they cause vomiting and depression. Save them for office desks or browse for them on Instagram if the desire appears.

Jade Plant // Leaf and Paw

4. Caladium

Caladium // Leaf and Paw

Also called “Elephant Ears,” Caladium are part of the Araceae family, which includes Philodendrons, Peace Lilies, Diffenbacchia – pretty much all plants that are toxic to pets.  Caladium are no exception, and nibbling will undoubtedly lead to a vet visit. I know it may seem like all the cool colorful plants are poisonous, but don’t get discouraged. If you’re looking for some cool variegated leaf plants that are safe, look to Rubber Trees, Maranta, and Peperomia instead.

5. Monstera Deliciosa

monstera deliciosa

I have a Monstera named Monty, and I’m going to be a huge hypocrite here – I LOVE him. And I am all about #monsteramonday on IG, propagating, and everything to do with Monsteras. And you see the conflict here….this is a blog about pet safe plants, and all I do is talk about this guy who is just bad news. Since Monsteras are also part of the Araceae family, they are unsafe to pets. Because they have huge leaves and grow to be such a large size, my cats have no interest in consuming them. Like mentioned before, depending on your pet,  you may be fine with large scale plants like these. Do be warned: Monsteras do produce smaller leaves along the base that may be snackable for pets. Already have a Monstera? Don’t worry. Perch it on a pedestal out of reach, or use a cat deterrent spray (my DIY will be available soon) on the leaves. That should do the trick. Monstera // toxic to pets

6. Croton

As fall approaches, I see a lot of Crotons making appearances. They’re leaves are cool, yes, and autumn looking, yes, and easy to care for, yes. Sadly, they do make the toxic list. If eaten or nibbled, crotons make cause mouth sores and tummy troubles, leading more serious issues like listlessness. I think we can all agree we prefer our pets listful.

Remember: As a plant collector, it’s difficult to avoid unsafe plants – usually the toxic ones are the most sought after. I always advise to keep these plants in high places, such as a hanging planter, or on pedestal or plant stand away from table tops. Destructive pets should not have access to plants at all, since usually the plant ends up in a crime scene on the floor with a broken pot. Still curious about a plant I haven’t discussed? Leave a comment below. Happy planting!

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Plant Portrait: Monstera Deliciosa

Monstera Deliciosa

One of the best parts of the IG plant community? #monsteramonday, featuring the exotic Monstera Deliciosa.

 

Out of all the social media platform, Instagram is my top. I use my personal account sparingly, mostly posting pictures of Henrietta. Once Leaf&Paw was born I was excited to create its own account. First off, every Monday is #monsteramonday. IGers present luxurious photos of these giant Jurassic Park plants that I had never seen before. Maybe it’s just NY, but Monstera Deliciosa, also called the Swiss Cheese Plant, is not a common one.  After seeing photo upon photo of green deliciousness (get it? like “deliciosa”), I had to have one of these. Since they are scarce in NY, so I was shocked, SHOCKED that weeks later I saw one, ONE in Wegmans for $15. It was fate since I have never seen one there again. Maybe the garden faeries left it just for me.

monstera deliciosa

So, now I have one of these monsters (get it? like “monstera”)  it has ultimately become my favorite plant child. Leaf&paw became active in #monsteramondays and I was surprised to receive a message asking why I own a toxic houseplant, despite my blog being safe plants for pets. Makes sense, so I’ll clear the air.

Monsteras are philodendrons – which is a vast plant family. It includes different types of monsteras, the heart shaped philodendron (above), and the elephant ear plant (below), as the most common. Part of the Araceae family, they are considered toxic, but less than its siblings, the Calla Lily and Dieffenbachia.  These two plants are more poisonous in general on the toxic scale, so I recommend avoiding those. Monsteras are only toxic in excess, causing stomach upset if consumed consistently.

In my Ficus Elastica post, I came across this similar situation – I have quite a few plants that are toxic to animals and I’ll explain why.

The main reason I possess these plants is leaf size. My cats, and it seems cats in general, fancy stringy, grass-like leaves that are easily chewable – like palms and spider plants. I have never had a problem with cats or dogs chewing, or even showing interest in large leaf plants, since they seem more like furniture than a salad. The Monstera is no exception with its plasticky leaves’ average size being 10″ in diameter. Honestly, leaf size is the key. So, to those wondering if it is ok to get one of these beauties, I say yes, as long as your pets aren’t destructive-consuming-plant-vacuums. In the end, you are the only one who knows your pet.

Monstera Deliciosa :: Leaf and Paw

Basic Care: Monsteras are super easy to take care of. The soil should stay moist in all seasons and they like a decent amount of filtered light and humidity. Mine is still in the plastic it came in and he seems just peachy. The photo below is when I first got him (plastic brontosaurus for scale), and the first picture in this post is his size now. Sniff, I’m so proud.

Monstera Deliciosa

 

Six Poisonous Plants to Pets

Corn Plant

It is handy to have a list of plants that are safe for pets, but it is actually more important to know which plants are a no-no to Mittens and Fido. These are the top six plants that are the MOST poisonous to pets. Whether you have cats or dogs (or even babies for that matter), these should be off your plant list. Photos are a great way to identify a plant, but always go by the latin name on the label, that ensures that similar-looking plants do not get mixed up.

Sago PalmSago Palm

The Sago Palm is really dangerous. In warmer climates (not here in NY, because, snow) these are found in backyards, but they are popular office and indoor plants too. Let these stay in your office and not in any location where there are pets. Cats take fancy to the fronds and dogs may like to chew on the woody root. Ingesting the Sago leads to hemorrhaging, liver damage, resulting in death. Name to look for: Cycas revoluta

Lily

Lily
Pic by Kaz Andrews

Generally speaking, lilies are not a great choice for furry friends. They are more toxic to cats than dogs, but either way should be avoided if you have one or the other. Peace lilies are toxic to both pets, Liliaceae lilies (the kind you get in bouquets and bundles from the florist) are primarily toxic to cats, and Calla lilies (the kind typically seen at funerals and in bouquets) are poisonous to both. Ingestion leads to difficulty swallowing, breathing and can be fatal unless medical attention is immediate. The most common ER visit related to toxic plants is ingestion of some kind of lily. For me, I’m not a fan of them anyway, but having a home of curious cats, I do not invite anything in the Liliaceae or Araceae family into my home.

Asparagus Fern

Asparagus Fern

I include the Aparagus Fern precisely because it is called a fern.  Most ferns are pet-friendly and lovely, but not this one. It’s label name, Asparagus densiflorus cv sprengeri, is also called Plumosa Fern or Lace Fern, so I urge you check out the label. These are really pretty and delicious looking to your curious cat. Little do they know it can lead to stomach upset and vomiting, which doesn’t make it worth keeping around for its looks.

CyclamenCyclamen

Cyclamen come around the holidays and winter-time, at least in the Northeast. They make appearances as guest and party gifts for hosts. Unfortunately, they aren’t welcome in my house….I prefer wine anyway. If any part of these are consumed, symptoms are gastric upset and, if the roots are eaten, seizures and death. Nobody wants a sick pet for Christmas.

Dieffenbachia Dieffenbachia

Popular in doctor’s office and malls, Dieffenbachia or giant dumb cane, unfortunately make the toxic list. They grow quickly and look gorgeously prehistoric, but they can be poisonous for paws. If nibbled, dogs and cats may develop irritation of the mouth, leading to difficulty swallowing and vomiting. I guess we should just keep these in Dr. Krentist’s office instead.

Dracaena

Dracaena

Most of the houseplants you can think of are Dracaena. This Von-Trap plant family includes indoor plant standbys: Janet Craig Dracaena, Lemon Lime, Corn Plant,  Marginata or Dragon Plant, Reflexa (which looks like a spider plant), and Lucky Bamboo are all siblings. It is in this family I encourage label reading – anything with Dracaena in the name, gently put back. They tend to be cat and dog magnets and if they are eaten can lead to a number of uncomfortable things such as vomiting, lethargy, and most likely a vet visit that could have been avoided.