21 Common Toxic Houseplants to Avoid around Pets and Children

Toxic houseplants should be paid more attention to in homes that contain children and pets running about. Many homeowners with kids and pets have common houseplants other houses do, so they don’t bother about the toxicity of the plant.

Cats especially, that love ‘keeping secrets’ will want to hide their waste beneath their potted plant. That process will involve rubbing the skin on the plant and nibbling on stems, leaves or edges of succulents.

Kids are unpredictable, any parent should know this. Not to talk about toddlers who crawl into danger quickly when parents are distracted.

There are many homes that have common houseplants that are labelled as toxic.

Some of these plants’ toxicity is mild while others are aggressive, but ‘ignorance killed the fowl’ so it is better to identify as many toxic plants as possible to keep them out of children and pet reach. Not to worry, there are numerous other plants safe for households aside from these.

If you have these kinds of toxic houseplants already in your yard, balcony or wherever, that you will not like to get rid of, you could arrange these dangerous plants in nice ways which will not be accessible to children and curious dogs.

Toxic Houseplants are grouped into;

  • Mildly toxic and
  • dangerous, poisonous

If you have a fish pet, be careful about the type of plant or material, in general, you put into the fish tank. You can read this guide on fish tank accessories and decorations that are safe and produce aesthetic themes for the aquarium.

How Humans and Pets Are Poisoned by Toxic Houseplants

Poisoning from dangerous plants can happen by:

  • Eating
  • Sniffing
  • Rubbing on skin
  • Contact with open skin

To reduce vomiting, stooling, itching and sneezing in homes these plants below should be planted or placed in beautiful ways where children cannot reach them.

1. Aloe Vera – Mild Toxic Houseplants

Did someone say what? Aloe Veras are mildly toxic houseplants. What tags it dangerous is the amount of ingestion.

Aloe Vera’s sap causes diarrhoea to weak bowels and makes four-footed pets vomit when swallowed in large quantities.

Wherever Aloe Vera is used as a prescription or ingredient, it is mostly in small amounts without side effects.

On skin and hair products, this plant is a figure, but in products that require swallowing, it is popular.

Toxic Part

Large quantities of its fluid.

Toxic to

 humans, cats and dogs.

2. Arrowhead (Syngonium podophyllum)

Arrowhead plant otherwise called Goosefoot plant has this beautiful leaf style and patterns that draw them into the house. They may be hard to put away once indoors.

Sadly, the sap of this Goosefoot plant is poisonous to humans and pets.

The chemical contents of this plant’s sap are harmful causing itching and in serious cases ingestion- vomiting.

Arrowhead plant propagates vegetatively through their fallen leaves, so spreading may be disastrous where kids are around.

Toxic Part

The sap.

Toxic to

humans, cats and dogs.

3. Bonsai

Toxic bonsai houseplants

Bonsai also called Desert Rose is a dwarf Japanese plant that looks appealing and suitable in corridors as a potted plant. It is not very much a friend as this plant -depending on the variety, is toxic to both humans and pets.

Dangerous varieties of bonsai include; the sago plants especially its seeds, Virginia creeper is also lethal and white Cedar which causes serious itching. Most people also complain about the effects of allergies.

Toxic Part

All parts

Toxic to

Humans and pets as well

4. Caladium

Also called Angel wings and Elephant Ears because of their large heart-shaped variegated leaves. Most south and Central American homes won’t want this plant on the list because it has become a family fave due to its multi-colour.

It can be potted which makes it more useful for strategic indoor decoration as well as landscaping.

Symptoms after ingestion by humans and animals are; mouth burns, sore throat, tensed breathing, speaking and swallowing, and in serious cases, blocked choking from blocked windpipes.

This decorative plant is known for its pointed leaves.

Toxic Part

All parts

Toxic to

 Humans and animals


Chlorophytum toxic houseplants

Chlorophytum also known as spider plant, are popular toxic houseplant known for its delicate, curly leaves and ease of care. Native to Africa, it is often grown for air-purifying purposes. However, while its use is important, it is good to note that its sap can cause skin irritation and allergy to contact-sensitive skin types. Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the plant to avoid skin contact

Toxic Part


Toxic to

Mostly Humans

The Devil’s Ivy (Golden Pothos Plant)

The Devil’s Ivy widely known as Pothos Plant is rated as a Very toxic plant for humans and animals as well. This is also a popular houseplant given its need for low maintenance, unique heart-shaped leaves and ability to grow well under shades.

Plant experts say that this plant has tiny needle-like crystals that pierce the mouth to the throat when ingested. It also causes itching and skin redness

It is an extremely poisonous indoor plant in particular for cats.

Toxic Part

Stem, Leaves

Toxic to

Humans, cats/dogs.

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)

Native to Mexico and South Argentina, this is a very useful plant in many households as its foliage is an air purifier removing xylene from the air. Like devil’s Ivy, Dieffenbachia has these sharp crystals that attach themselves to the throat when ingested causing serious itching initially. Cases of dumb cane are frequent with cats. Severe cases have worse results for the animal that swallows it leading to bad moth burns, breathing difficulty and even death.

Toxic Part

Leaves, stem

Toxic to

 cats and dogs.

English Ivy (Hedera Helix) – Highly Toxic Houseplants

wall hanging english ivy

The English Ivy are toxic houseplant originating from Europe and Asia. It is not a very ideal houseplant given that it requires serious labour to maintain. It is very invasive and can even climb over hedges.

The sap, fruit and leaves are mildly poisonous to both man and animals. The juice causes skin itching and rash.

It can also cause short breathing, stomach aches and nausea when swallowed.

Its good mark is that it is a good air purifier, getting rid of benzene and formaldehyde.

Toxic Part

 Leaves, juice and fruit.

Toxic to

 Humans and pets.

African Milk Tree (Euphorbia Trigona)

Euphorbia trigona, an African milk tree, is a flowering succulent from central Africa. It is also known as Cathedra Cactus. The milky latex of this plant is very dangerous and can cause serious eye injuries after contact which may end in blindness in extreme cases. It also causes serious skin itching.

Toxic Part

 Sap or milky latex

Toxic to

Man and Animals

Heartleaf Philodendron (Philodendron Hederaceum)

The Philodendron is a very poisonous indoor houseplant having effects on humans, cats and dogs.

They are harmful to the eyes and also leave a bad effect if swallowed.

They have sharp calcium oxalate needle-like crystals, so if any part of this plant is eaten, it causes itching and inflammation of the mouth, throat and tongue. This inflammation is accompanied by unusual salivation hard breathing and swallowing.

Although sounding like a lethal plant, Heartleaf Philodendron is an air-purifying plant that also thrives under shades.

Toxic Part

all parts of the plant

Toxic to

 Humans, cats and dogs too.

Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata) – Mildly Toxic Houseplants

jade plant

Native to Africa, Jade Plant also called the Lucky plant or money plant is a succulent flowering plant that has dense smooth and shiny leaves.

 It is mildly poisonous to humans, horses, cats and dogs. Upon ingestion, it can cause diarrhoea, and vomiting. And to very sensitive skin, irritation.

It is a sun-loving air purifier

Toxic Part


Toxic to

Humans, horses, cats and dogs.

Sago Palms (Metroxylon Sagu)

Metroxylon sagu is an important plant. A major ingredient in noodles manufacturing in Malaysia. It is a food plant but is also used to make Sago pearls. It is also used for starch production.

If so useful, then why toxic? Eating raw, unprocessed sago is dangerous as it contains some toxins, which can lead to liver failure, vomiting and in serious cases death from liver failure.

The flowers of the plant also have similar effects.

Toxic Part

 Flower, raw part

Toxic to

Humans, Cats and dogs

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Dracaena trifasciata)

Another great floor plant also called snake plant or saint George’s sword because of its sleek, sword-like leaves. It is popular in west Africa including Nigeria.

The leaves are is variegated green with yellow or white, yellow linings by the edge. It causes the tongue to swell when it comes in contact thus, earning it the nickname “mother in laws tongue”. There is a superstition that it brings good luck.

To humans, the symptoms are insignificant but show more in pets. Cats and dogs suffer mouth aches, swells and abnormal salivation.

Toxic Part

The Leaves

Toxic to

Humans, Cats and Dogs

Oleander (Nerum Oleander)


These beautiful shrubs are one of the most toxic houseplants on this list. One leaf can kill! Keep out of children’s space. When eaten, can result in epilepsy, comas, heart failure, cancer and possible death. In light cases of skin contact, itching is frequent.

This plant should not be indoors for any reason no matter how attractive.

Toxic Part

Every part

Toxic to

Human, Pets

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

The Peace lilies are toxic houseplants that have more cases of poisoning. 

The oxalate crystals in this plant cause itching, pain, and burning sensation on the skin and mouth. It also has digestive effects. It leaves the same sickness on humans, cats and dogs.

Though a toxic houseplant, Peace Lily is a good air-purifying plant. It gets rid of toxins like benzene, CO2, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene from the air. Wonder if it harbours toxins in its leaves.

Toxic Part

Leaves and stems

Toxic to

 Humans, cats and dogs.

Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia Tirucalli)

The Pencil Cactus or milk bush plant is native to Africa. It is a toxic plant that affects Humans, cats and dogs alike causing mouth and abdominal problems one of the most poisonous indoor plants available on the market, and is considered a Toxic Plant, (dangerous, poisonous).

The milk bush plant got its name from its milky latex that causes itching skin, burning sensation and possible blindness on contact with the eyes.

Toxic Part

Millky Latex.

Toxic to

humans, cats and dogs.


beautiful ponsettia

Poinsettias, a popular plant at Christmas time are of medium danger to pets, birds and humans too. The latex and the leaf are the dangerous parts of the plant. The sap/latex causes a rash and eating the leaf may result in diarrhoea and vomiting. If you notice it in your child’s mouth quickly wash it out. Also, wash hands after contact with the leaf,

Toxic Part

Sap, leaves

Toxic to

Humans, rabbits, birds, cats and dogs

Strelitzia Nicolai (Bird Of Paradise) – Highly Toxic Houseplants

Bird of Paradise is a strange plant. This is because its body (including leaves, stem and root) has mild toxicity while its flowers are poisonous.

When planted indoors, this plant doesn’t bloom flowers so the chances of poisoning indoors are low compared to when it is a front yard plant blooming its flowers fully.

The body of this plant leaves an effect only when a large amount of it is eaten which is a rare occurrence. Effects of Bird of Paradise on humans and pets include; diarrhoea, vomiting and drowsiness.

Toxic Part

All parts are mildly dangerous. Flowers are extremely harmful when ingested.

Toxic to

Humans, cats and dogs.

Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum Pseudocapsicum)

Solanum Pseudocapsicum is a beautiful nightshade houseplant classified as mildly dangerous. indoor plant with red unfriendly berries. I don’t let my kids around this one. It is mildly dangerous but I’m not taking the risk.

Curious children like mine need some protection against these inviting berries. They result in fever, headaches, paralysis and respiratory sicknesses.

Toxic Part


Toxic to

Children are major victims


Palm tree-like perennial shrub. It is evergreen sharp leaves make it unique.  When eaten, it causes abdominal upsets if eaten. Huge doses have worse effects on the Nervous system. This although is rare because its bad taste doesn’t let anyone eat it that much.

Also, this plant is not advisable near allergic people.

Toxic Part

Spiky leaves

Toxic to


Zamioculcas Zamiifilia

This plant is mildly toxic to both humans and pets. It causes inflammations in the mouth, tongue and throat. Skin rash is also common in contact with the plant.

Toxic Part

All parts

Toxic to

Wrapping Up. Toxic Houseplants common in homes

Toxic houseplants on this list should be restricted from children and pet play areas by all means you’re your cat is an expert climbing animal you shouldn’t have these plants at home.

If your favourite houseplant is listed in this article, you should not worry, other safe indoor plants are out there that would suit your animal and kids. Get the toxic houseplants where kids and pets can’t access them. Especially the air-purifying plants and mildly toxic medicinal plants like aloe vera and sago palms.

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Edet Ubok-Obong
Edet Ubok-Obong

Edet Ubok-Obong is an experienced Writer with a deep passion for Gardening, Fishing and home improvement. He shares his knowledge of these fields through this website.