Six non-toxic plants that are safe around children and pets

Six non-toxic plants that are safe around children and pets

Let's start with some of the most poisonous and just mention that it's quite rare for people or pets to choose to eat toxic plants. But indeed, it does happen. Some poisonous plants don’t even need to be eaten in order to prove fatal. Indeed, gardeners are believed to have been killed by wolfsbane, or Aconitum, which is also known as monkshood. This attractive plant  (pictured below) has large leaves and purple, hooded flowers which look rather like cowled monks’ hoods. It will be known to Harry Potter fans as Wolfsbane!

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Then there’s Hemlock, Deadly Nightshade, tomato plants, primrose, rhododendron, lilies and even Foxgloves that are all capable of adverse health effects or even death. The beautiful Foxglove must be treated with care. It can affect the heart because it contains naturally occurring poisons called cardiac glycoside toxins. These interfere with electrolyte balance within the heart muscle. The heart drug Digitalis is extracted from this useful plant and is one of the most successful heart medications available when used in the correct way.

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Non-toxic plants

On the other hand, plants are extremely good for us! Not only do we eat them (vegetables, herbs, fruit), but they filter toxins from the air, produce oxygen and are good for the soul too. ‍There's a name given to the tendendcy for humans to seek connections with nature - it's the biophilia hypothesis.and it's a well-known positive association. 

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Plants make people happy and can improve the environment. To derive the maximum benefit from plants we need to incorporate them into our homes as well as our gardens. Some are better than others at cleaning the air and producing oxygen.

Those households with pets or small children might want to choose from non-toxic house plants to eliminate risk. You would think that pets might automatically know what's good for them but they tend to experiment by nibbling if they are short of nutrients or certain elements.

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Indoor palm trees

Fortunately, the list of plants believed to be non-toxic is tempting and it includes the beautiful Areca palm, (below) which is also one of the best for purifying the air. 

The non-toxic Areca palm for indoors

The Areca palm is also known as Chrysalidocarpus lutescens or Dypsis lutescens and it is commonly called the yellow butterfly palm, bamboo palm and golden cane palm. It came near the top of a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) study of the 10 best air purifying plants. What’s more, it can grow just about as large as you want it to – generally up to around 2.5m indoors (although it will, of course, be restricted by the size of its pot).

Other people-and pet-friendly palms include the Canary Island date palm, Phoenix canariensis, an indoor palm that will enable your imagination to whisk you off to a tropical island paradise! This typical palm tree (pictured below) makes a great house, office or conservatory plant and in a bright enough position and large enough pot it will be able to grow several metres high. It has no known toxic properties, but the fronds are rather sharp so perhaps little fingers should stay away.

The Phoenix palm

Smaller palms

A smaller, but no less interesting, type of palm is the ‘ponytail palm’ or Nolina maya. Also known as Beaucarnea recurvata; the maya palm or ‘elephant’s foot’, it has a thick woody stem and palm-like foliage. In fact, this charming semi-succulent stores water in its stem a bit like the iconic Baobab tree of Africa and Australia. Many plants make great talking points and this is one of them.

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Watch this short video all about palm trees 

Hanging plants

Want something a little smaller – a hanging indoor plant perhaps? You can’t go wrong with the good old Chlorphytum, otherwise known as a spider plant! These brilliant plants are really efficient air cleaners and they now come in several different forms. The effect that can be achieved with a collection of hanging spider plants is second-to-none. So easy to propagate – little fingers can practice their gardening skills without worry.  These are plants that take up no room at all as they can hang in space that would otherwise be empty.

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Succulents

A collection of non-toxic succulent house plants makes an intriguing feature. Consider the charming succulent Echeverias such as ‘Purple Pearl’; ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ and ‘Taurus’ which look really effective when grouped together. Easy to care for, they make the perfect ‘starter plant’; they are highly effective air improvers; they actually produce oxygen at night and therefore make good bedroom companions - and they have no known toxic properties.  Echeveria 'Perle von Nurnberg’ (below) has a blue/purple tinge to the succulent leavesm whilst E. 'Purple Pearl' (below), has a wonderful pinky-purple hue and an opaqueness to its foliage.

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