With the holiday season upon us I enjoy colorful plants on my tabletop and window sill. How safe are holiday plants for pets and small children?
I already have a beautiful poinsettia on my table and soon I’ll be getting other holiday plants such as cyclamen, paperwhite narcissus, maybe a pink jasmine wreath or one with holly, ivy and evergreens. I also like those rosemary topiaries that are trained in the shape of a Christmas tree and have already started one of those huge showy amaryllis bulbs. Christmas cactus grow in several locations. Some of these plants that may be toxic.
Poinsettia hold up well either as a cut flower or a living plant. This is the classic plant to decorate our homes at this time of year. Mostly it’s too cold here in the mountains for poinsettia to survive outside at night but being native to Mexico they thrive in the warmth of the house. They need a bright spot and the soil should be allowed to dry slightly, but not completely, between watering. Deprive them of either of these requirements and the lower leaves will yellow and drop. Also be sure they aren’t sitting in water at the bottom of the container. Poinsettia are brittle but if you break off a branch sear the end of the stem with a flame and it will hold up quite well in a vase or arrangement.
Are poinsettia poisonous? Ohio State University conducted extensive research and concluded that although poinsettia sap from leaves and flowers that might give you a stomach ache if you ate them they won’t seriously hurt you. The sap may cause a rash if it comes in contact with the skin on some people. With this in mind, you should keep poinsettia plants out of the reach of curious pets and small children.
There are two pets in my household– a cat named Archer and Sherman, the Welch springer spaniel. I usually put a couple red and white cyclamen on a table in the house. Are cyclamen safe around them?
According to the Pet Poison Helpline cyclamen are mild to moderately toxic to dogs and cats if ingested but it’s the root or corm that is especially toxic if ingested in large quantities. Pets and people react differently and it is unlikely that children) would eat the corm and be affected.
My beautiful amaryllis flower and leaves are safe but the bulb is toxic. Amaryllis bulbs contain the same alkaloid that is found in narcissus and daffodil and is the reason deer know to leave them alone. Ingesting a small amount will produce few or no symptoms, however.
Azalea leaves and Christmas cactus are toxic and should be kept away from pets and small children. Holly berries are toxic if eaten in large quantities. Same for mistletoe and ivy.
While serious complications aren’t likely with holiday plants it’s still best to keep them away from small children and out of your pet’s reach.