Poisonous or harmful plants

Lots of plants are poisonous or capable of causing highly allergic reactions. Some will also pierce you with their sharp spines.

Few actually do lasting harm but some should be treated with care and respect. Garden and household chemicals, fires, backyard swimming pools and even ladders are far more dangerous backyard hazards for children than plants.

Who is at risk?

Children, who are crawling or toddling around, particularly babies and young children under 4 years of age, are most at risk of eating non edible plant matter. To reduce the chance of babies and young children eating anything poisonous take the following precautions:

  • Teach children not to eat anything straight from a plant or bush.
  • Fence off or remove known poisonous or dangerous plants (see list).
  • Keep the Poison Information Centre phone number 13 11 26 near your phone or in the contact list of your mobile phone.

Symptoms to recognise

Symptoms of poisoning from plants can include:

  • vomiting
  • stomach cramps
  • irregular heart beat
  • burning or stinging to the mouth, lips or tongue
  • convulsions (fits)

First aid

If you suspect a child has been exposed to something poisonous or harmful, first aid measures include:

  • For skin contact – gently wash the skin with running water.
  • For eye contact – flood the eye with clear running water for 10-15 minutes.
  • For swallowed plants – remove any remaining plant pieces and wash out child’s mouth.
  • Phone the Poison Information Centre on 13 11 26 for further information.

If you need to go to hospital, take a piece or photo of the plant with you if you can.

If your child is having difficulty breathing, is unconscious or fitting, call an ambulance on 000.

Is it possible to recognise a poisonous or harmful plant?

There are no common characteristics of form, colouring, odour or taste, which mark a poisonous or harmful plant from a non-poisonous plant. As a general rule of thumb, plants with a bitter taste, funny smell, milky sap or red seeds or berries may be poisonous.

To avoid poisoning, we need to learn to recognise and avoid poisonous plants so that we can teach our children to also avoid poisonous plants.

Poisonous plants to avoid

1. Yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana)

All parts of this plant are toxic. Seeds are very poisonous but also highly appealing, especially to kids, often called lucky nuts. Plants are evergreen with yellow tubular (funnel-shaped) flowers. These plants are mainly found in warm climates or in coastal gardens. Yellow oleander is different to pink oleander (Nerium oleander) which is commonly found in Sydney, Australia. Pink oleander is also considered poisonous.

2. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

All parts of the plant are toxic and can affect the heart. These plants have long stalks with bell shaped flowers on them. The flowers range from pink to purple and are sometimes white in colour. The flowers have spots on the inside of the flower.

3. Castor Bean plant (Ricinus communis) and Crab’s eye (Abrus precatorius)

Seeds, flowers and leaves are very toxic and deaths have occurred following ingestion of the seeds.

4. Deadly Nightshade (Atropa Belladonna)

All parts of the plant are toxic especially the fruit and seeds. It is a medium weed/shrub with dull dark green pointed leaves and dark purple bell shaped flowers. The purplish-black berry is sweet and tempting but very toxic to children. Black nightshade looks similar except with white flowers but has a lower risk of poisoning.

5. Euphorbia species

The sap from these common plants can cause severe pain and injury to the eye. They are also known as spurge and milkweed.

6. White Cedar (Melia azedarach)

White cedar is a large deciduous tree. All parts of the tree are toxic but the small yellow fruit are more commonly eaten by children.

7. Angels trumpet (Brugmansia and related Datura)

Woody shrubs with hanging trumpet shaped flowers. All parts of the plant are dangerous and especially toxic to children.

8. Oxalate-containing species

Many common indoor and outdoor plants, often belonging to the Araceae family contain oxalate crystals which cause intense pain when put in the mouth, swelling is also possible. Examples include Dieffenbachia, Dumb cane, Arum lily, Calla lily, Peace Lily, Philodendron, Elephant’s Ear and Chinese lucky plant.

9. Stinging trees (eg Dendrocnide excelsa and Dendrocnide moroides)

Contact with the leaves will cause severe stinging which can last for days to months.

10. Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a fungi, but are included in this list as they cause the most hospitalisations. Many species are poisonous and some deadly. Remove wild mushrooms promptly if they are growing in your garden.

Dangerous plants to avoid if you have children

1. Yucca

Reports of serious perforation injuries to the ear canal from spiky leaves which can readily pierce skin too.

2. Cactus and succulents

Stylish but highly dangerous, especially to eyes. If you want to grow succulents, choose plants without spines such as Agave attenuate

3. Palm Spikes

Can cause serious injury especially to the joints and tendons in the hands

Allergic plants to avoid contact with

1. Asthma Weed

2. Rhus tree

3. Grevillias


  • Teach children not to eat anything straight from a plant or bush.
  • Fence off or remove known poisonous or dangerous plants (see list).
  • Keep the Poisonous Information Centre phone number 13 11 26 near your phone or in the contact list of your mobile phone.

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Choosing the right plants is always important, but it’s especially crucial for gardens designed for young children. This list includes annual and perennial plants considered safe for wee ones. You’ll find two main categories – cool season and warm season plants – so you can plan to have something blooming or ready to harvest for most of the gardening year. These are subdivided into which to purchase as established plans rather than start from seed. Generally, seeds are more economical, but some is small and hard to handle, a challenge to germinate, or the resulting plants may take a long time to mature.

Plants to Avoid

Although every child needs to learn that some plants are not good to eat or touch, it is best to avoid poisonous plants or those with irritating characteristics like thorns. Online databases of poisonous plants are available here:

  • NC State University Poisonous Plants
  • Cornell University Poisonous Plants

For those of you new to the gardening world, it’s helpful to become familiar with a few plant terms to help you navigate through the myriad choices.

  • Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle during one growing season; that is, they sprout from seed, blossom, set seed, and die within a short time. In this list, we divide them into cool-season and warm-season annuals. Cool-season types, such as lettuce and spinach, grow best when daytime temperatures are 60° to 70° F. Warm-season annuals, including beans and corn, grow best when daytime temperatures in the mid-70’s through the 90’s.
  • Biennial plants live for two growing seasons. During the first season they build up reserves that they use during the second to blossom and produce seed, after which they die. Common biennial plants include carrots and onions. (Gardeners don’t grow these two crops for flowers or seeds, but you may wish to let some specimens complete their life cycles just to illustrate the biennial cycle to children – just be aware that the roots will no longer be palatable!)
  • Perennials live for three or more years. Lifespans vary, with some lasting just a few years and others living for decades.

Cool-Season Plants


  • Beets are grown for their nutritious roots. To kids, harvesting root crops is like digging for buried treasure! Colors include red, orange, yellow, white, pink and striped. Leaves are also edible. Harvest roots while fairly young – they can become tough and fibrous when they grow too large. Beets can be eaten boiled, baked, or pickled. Biennial.
  • Carrots are packed with health-promoting nutrients and taste great fresh from the garden! Varieties range in size from baby carrots to foot-long roots. Although orange carrots are most common, yellow, white, orange, and maroon varieties are available. All have attractive, feathery leaves. Carrots are fairly easy to grow in well-drained, well-tilled soil. Keep soil evenly moist to ensure even germination of seed. Biennial.
  • Calendulas, sometimes called pot marigolds, look more like daisies, with bright flowers in a range of yellows and oranges. They prefer cool temperatures but do not tolerate frost. Some gardeners grow them as companion plants to vegetables because they repel certain pests. Annual.
  • Dill can grow up to five feet tall with airy foliage and beautiful yellow flowers. This herb is used to flavor dill pickles, dressings, fish, and dips. The flowers attract butterflies, and the leaves are a food source for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. In hot climates it grows best during the spring and fall months, but it thrives all summer in cooler climates. Annual.
  • Lettuce grows quickly and forms the foundation for fresh classroom salads. Dozens of varieties are available in many different colors (reds, purples, and all shades of green). Heading lettuce forms a tight mass of leaves that you harvest all at once. Looseleaf lettuce can be harvested by the leaf throughout the growing season. An excellent crop for both spring and fall. Annual.
  • Radishes germinate in 3 to 7 days and many are ready for little hands to harvest 30 to 45 days. Like beets and carrots, the roots are the prize, and they come in a wide variety of shapes (round to oblong), colors (including red, white, pink, purple, yellow), and sizes. Most are eaten raw to add a spicy flavor to salads. Annual.
  • Peas come in several different types from snow peas to field peas, some with edible pods and others dried and used for soups. Most have a vining habit and need support in order to yield a good crop. Try growing them on a trellis, fence, or bamboo tepee. Peas are a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins, and they’re great fun to pick. Annual.
  • Spinach leaves are packed with powerful nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, iron and calcium. It grows easily and very quickly, and prefers the cool temperatures of spring and fall. You can start harvesting as soon as plants have five or six leaves. Annual.
  • Swiss Chard is grown for edible petioles (leaf stalks) and leaves. The variety ‘Bright Lights’ is popular with kids because its stems and leaf veins come in a range of bright colors, including yellow, pink, red, orange, purple, white, and green. Like spinach, it’s high in vitamins and iron. Annual.


  • Broccoli, grown for its green, immature flower buds, is a tasty treat that is also high in nutritional value. When you offer kids the opportunity to “eat flowers,” they’re sure to be intrigued! Broccoli can blossom prematurely (called bolting) in hot weather, so plant seedlings when the weather is cool to ensure a good harvest. Annual.
  • Brussels Sprouts as you may guess from their appearance, are related to cabbages. They are a fun size for small children, especially when they grow alongside a cabbage for size comparison. Annual.
  • Cabbage forms an edible head of tightly clustered leaves. They come in a variety of sizes and colors (red, purple, and white). Eat it cooked or raw. Annual
  • Onions are a universal seasoning. Grow and taste both the edible bulbs and green tops. Plant onions seedlings or “sets” (small onion bulbs), available from garden centers and catalogs in the spring. They vary in skin color (white, brown, yellow, red, or purple), shape, and flavor (from sweet to spicy). The tops grow quickly for student sampling. Biennial.
  • Pansies, with their happy “faces” and wide array of colors, are definitely kid-pleasers. They’re also easy to grow. The flowers are edible and great for pressing to use with craft activities. They grow and blossom best in cooler temperatures. Annual.
  • Parsley is high in Vitamin A and by weight has more Vitamin C an orange! The curly variety has a tight, mounding growth that resembles a bed of soft moss, making it a nice “touch plant”. Parsley is also a food source for black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. Biennial.
  • Snapdragons come in a range of sizes (from dwarf to tall) and in every color except true blue. Kids love pinching their velvety, tubular flowers to make the “dragon’s jaws” snap! Annual.

Warm-Season Plants


  • Bean seeds are large enough for kids to handle easily and plant, and they grow quickly, some maturing in as few as 45 days. Both bush and pole varieties come in a wide array of types and colors include yellow, green, and purple. Pole beans are great for creating child-friendly structures like tepees and tunnels. Kids can harvest snap, string, or French beans for eating raw or cooked. Types meant for drying, such as pinto, kidney, and black beans, stay on the vine until the pods become brown – they make an exciting package for curious kids to open, with shiny, colorful seeds inside. Annual.
  • Cantaloupes provide sweet, refreshing fruit and are a wonderful source of Vitamins A and C. These vining plants require lots of room to spread (leave at least 5 feet between standard plants, and 3 feet between compact “bush” varieties). Children will enjoy monitoring the growth of these ball-shaped fruits. Annual.
  • Sweet Corn, with its tall stature, can offer a structural as well as edible element to a preschool garden. Because it is pollinated by the wind, in order to get edible ears you need to plant it in blocks of several rows (at least 3 by 3 feet) or in tight “hills” of at least 3 stalks. After you harvest, leave the stalks in place and let kids play hide-and-seek in the patch, and use the stalks to make decorations. Annual.
  • Cosmos has fine, delicate foliage and bright daisy-like flowers in orange, yellow, red, pink, white, and purple that attract butterflies. It’s very easy to grow, even in poor soil. Different varieties grow from 16 inches to 4 feet tall. Annual.
  • Cucumbers can be eaten fresh, added to salads, or turned into pickles. Like its cousin the cantaloupe, it’s a vining plant. Let it sprawl across the ground, or if you’re short on space, or train it up a trellis or choose compact “bush” varieties. Annual.
  • Gazania is another daisy-type flowers with white, pink, red, orange, yellow, and some bi-color blossoms. It’s fairly drought and heat tolerant. Blossoms close at night and in cloudy weather – have children watch for these changes. Perennial in zones 8-10; annual elsewhere.
  • Gomphrena blossoms are made up of papery bracts (modified leaf structures) that make them easy to dry for play and for craft projects. Globe-shaped flowers come in purple, red, and white. Annual.
  • Gourds are vining plants with fruits that come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Bottle gourds can be used to make birdhouses, luffa gourds for sponges, and ornamental types for creating table displays or even to use as playthings. Gourds have been used for thousands of years for decorative purposes and also used as early bottles, storage containers (the first Tupperware), utensils (spoons), and musical instruments. They produce vigorous vines that need support from a fence or sturdy trellis and lots of space to produce well. Annual.
  • Hollyhocks are tall, old-fashioned garden favorites that are fairly drought tolerant and easy to grow. The large showy flowers come in a rainbow of colors that can be fun for young children to play with. Biennial or perennial.
  • Nasturtiums are available as compact plants or trailing varieties with edible lily-pad-shaped foliage and velvety blossoms. Flowers range from white through yellows and dark red. Blossoms are sweet with a peppery watercress flavor and contain Vitamin C. They’re beautiful on salads and sandwiches. Annual.
  • Peanuts are perky green plants with bright yellow flowers. They have a fascinating growth habit: After pollination the flower stalk stretches down to touch the soil, and fruits (peanuts) develop underground. Annual.
  • Pumpkins are a children’s favorite – kids love to grow their own Halloween pumpkins. Although orange pumpkins are the most common, they also come in red, white, and gray. Pumpkin plants need lots of room for their vines to spread. Miniature varieties may only need 6 to 8 square feet, but large types need between 50 and 100 square feet for healthy growth. At harvest time, pumpkins can be turned into jack-o-lanterns and their seeds roasted for a tasty and nutritious snack. Annual.
  • Strawflowers, like gomphrena, have papery bracts that make them excellent dried flowers. They come in a variety of colors including shades of red, orange, yellow, pink and white. Brighten up a winter classroom with flowers the children have helped grow.
  • Sunflowers are universally loved by children. They’re easy to grow and produce cheerful, vibrant, flowers. You can grow dwarf varieties no taller than your students or giants that tower to 8 feet tall. Flowers are also variable in size, from dwarfs that would fit in the palm of your hand to giants that are as large as your head. Colors include white, yellow, orange, and burgundy, and some bicolors. They’re known for their edible seeds and seed oil, but the unopened buds and flower petals can also be eaten and taste like a mild artichoke. Flower petals are bittersweet. Annual.
  • Tithonia, also known as Mexican sunflower, has red, orange, and yellow flowers that attract butterflies. The plants can grow tall and a bit wild looking, but they are heat and drought tolerant. Annual.
  • Watermelons are a summer time favorite and rewarding for kids to grow. Like cantaloupe, plant them in hills and give them need lots of space (7 to 10 feet between hills). Annual.
  • Zinnias come in hundreds of varieties, ranging from dwarf plants up to 3 feet tall, and in a rainbow of colors, some of which are specked and striped. Flowers may have a single layer of petal-like ray flowers or may have more layers for a fuller look. They are hardy and grow well in hot, dry conditions. Zinnias make great cut flowers and attract butterflies. Annual.


  • Basil, like other culinary herbs, is a stimulating sensory plant for children to smell and taste. Aside from traditional basil, there are also lemon, lime, anise, and cinnamon flavored types. Leaf color and shape also varies, from tiny, pale green leaves to deep purple ruffles. They also come in different sizes, but classic basil can reach 2 feet at maturity. Basil grows best in full sun. Basil plants also produce attractive flowers, although if you are harvesting leaves for cooking it is best to remove flower buds and encourage vegetative growth. Annual.
  • Impatiens bring bright color to shady beds. They come in red, orange, pink, purple and white, with some variegated and double blossoms. They’re easy to grow and bloom continuously throughout the growing season. Annual.
  • Petunias grow well during cooler months in the far south, but throughout the summer in cooler climates. The trumpet-shaped flowers bloom prolifically and come in a wide range of colors, some with interesting patterns including stripes and speckles.
  • Pineapple Sage, another plant for sensory exploration, derives it’s name from the pleasing pineapple-like odor of the crushed leaves. As an extra bonus, the foliage adds sweet flavor to teas and salads. The scarlet flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Perennial in zones 8-10; annual elsewhere.
  • Rosemary is an evergreen woody shrub that produces pine-scented leaves used in cooking and potpourri. Flowers are white or blue flowers and you can choose varieties with upright growth or with trailing branches. It is also commonly used in cooking with breads, meats and vegetables. Perennial in zones 8-10; annual elsewhere (bring it inside for the winter).
  • Stevia, also known as sugarleaf, is another good sensory plant for children. The leaves taste 10 to 15 times sweeter than an equal amount of sugar! It grows slowly at the outset, but can reach 2 to 3 feet. Pinch off the flowers if you wish to maximize the sweetness of the leaves. Perennial in zones 8-10; annual elsewhere.

Perennial Plants

You’ll find both flowering and fruiting perennials in this list. You can plant most perennials throughout your growing season, although each variety may have an optimum planting date for your area. The most flexible planting time in most areas is in the spring after chance of frost has passed, but many will also thrive if planted in summer or fall. If you do plant them in the heat of summer, monitor water needs frequently. If you plant in fall, allow enough time for roots to become established before cold weather hits. Seeds of many perennial are challenging to germinate, and most do not blossom during their first year, so start with small transplants or mature plants so you can enjoy the benefits sooner.

  • Black-eyed Susan is a cheery, daisy-like flower that has a long bloom period. They make great cut flowers and also attract butterflies.
  • Blueberries not only provide fruit early to mid-summer, they are attractive, low-maintenance shrubs with good fall color. Bush varieties range from four to seven feet tall, and “wild” blueberries stay low to the ground. All require acidic soil, but they have few pests other than hungry birds.
  • Butterfly Bush (buddleia) can grow into a large shrub (up to 12 feet) and produces beautiful, fragrant, cone-shaped flower clusters in whites, purples, pinks and reds. As the name suggest, it attracts a number of butterflies and other insects. Once established, it is a very hardy and drought tolerant plant.
  • Catnip is a member of the mint family, is easy to grow, very fragrant, and has attractive flowers. Young children enjoy growing this plant as a special treat for their feline friends.
  • Chives are normally grown for their flavorful leaves, which can bring a mild onion/garlic-like flavor to dishes like salads and baked potatoes. Chive flowers are also edible and come in white, lavender, or purple.
  • Coneflower is a North American native wildflower. New flower colors are being developed, but the most common are purple, white, or yellow. The ray-like petals surround a pincushion center. They’re excellent cut flowers that also attract butterflies.
  • Coreopsis has attractive yellow flowers that bloom throughout the summer. It’s easy to grow and can tolerate poor soil and hot weather.
  • Coral Honeysuckle is an evergreen to semi-evergreen vine with beautiful, tubular coral flowers that attract hummingbirds. Whether you grow it in the ground or in a container, provide a trellis for it to climb. Although it is easy to grow, it doesn’t become invasive like Japanese honeysuckle (yellow blossoms).
  • Lamb’s Ear has soft, woolly, blue-green leaves that kids love to pet. This low growing, clumping perennial grows vigorously, so it can take the attention. Plant it along borders where small hands can reach it easily.
  • Lemon Balm has attractive green foliage with a refreshing citrus flavor. Let children smell and taste the leaves, and add them to tea and fruit salads. Grows to 2 feet tall. Perennial in zones 4 to 9.
  • Mints of all kinds are a sensory treat. The most common are peppermint and spearmint, but there are others to try, such as ginger mint and chocolate mint. Plants grow from 8 inches to 3 feet tall. All spread quickly by underground rhizomes, so if you don’t want them to take over other plants, plant mint in a pots or a separate bed.
  • Monarda (bee balm) attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees, providing lots opportunity for exciting observation. Flower colors include red, pink, white, and purple. It’s a mint, so make sure it doesn’t take over the garden. It will grow in part shade, but flowers best in full sun.
  • Oregano is a compact herb plant with attractive pink and purple flowers. The herb is a favorite in Greek, Italian, and Mexican cooking. Plant it in full sun. Perennial in zones 5 to 9.
  • Salvia is available in many different shapes, sizes and colors, with varieties adapted to different climates and growing conditions from very wet to very dry soils. The red, pink, white, purple, and blue flowers are borne on spikes and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Remove spent blooms to encourage new flowers
  • Strawberries are usually the first fresh fruit of the growing season, making them a children’s favorite. Typically flowers are white, but there are some with pink blossoms.
    It makes an excellent ground cover or border plant because of the long stems, called “runners”, that trail and sprout new plants.
  • Thornless Blackberry shrubs have long canes that grow to heights of five to 10 feet tall. Fruit matures in mid to late summer. Great picking for little hands!
  • Thornless Raspberry shrubs range from 4 to 6 feet tall. Summer and fall-bearing varieties are available. Children enjoy wearing the berries like thimbles on their fingertips before popping them in their mouths.
  • Verbena comes in varieties with white, pink, red, or purple flower clusters that attract butterflies and other insects. Some have an upright growth habit, while trail. They grow well in sunny locations and well-drained soil, and established plants are fairly drought tolerant.

Safe Indoor Plants for Children

February 24th, 2017 Fantastic Team Greenthumb Guide Post Views: 31,628

Child-proofing your home or day care centre is a tough job, but not impossible. Anything in the reach of a child can be a threat to their health. Ordinary objects can become weapons. Plants are no exception.

Here is a list of child-safe house plants and how to grow them.*

  • African Violet
  • Aluminum Plant
  • Anthurium
  • Aphelandra
  • Baby’s Tears
  • Begonia
  • Bloodleaf
  • Boston Fern
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Coleus
  • Corn Plant
  • Dracaena
  • Emerald Ripple Peperomia
  • Hen-And-Chickens
  • Hoya
  • Impatiens
  • Jade Plant
  • Lily
  • Parlor Palm
  • Prayer Plant
  • Rubber Plant
  • Schefflera
  • Sensitive Plant
  • Snake Plant
  • Spider Plant
  • Swedish Ivy
  • Velvet, Purple Passion
  • Wandering Jew
  • Weeping Fig

Even non-toxic plants can cause an unwanted reaction if they’re eaten, so try to keep them out of reach nevertheless. Alternatively try to establish rules with your children. The best advice we can give you is: Assume plants are poisonous unless you know otherwise. Seek urgent medical attention if you see any symptoms like rash, swollen tongue or lips, and difficult breathing.

List of Child Safe Plants

Latin name: Saintpaulia

Description: The African Violet is a common house plant suitable for any beginner gardener. It lives long and adjusts to a variety of conditions. It can be grown both indoors and outdoors. It is very low maintenance and takes up little space. All varieties of Saintpaulia have pretty purple, blue, pink, red, or white flowers. Keep the African Violet out of cold and direct sun, because it will lead to discolouration. Water it from the bottom, as any water on the leaves turns them brown. Let the roots dry before you water it again. Pinch dead blossoms to stimulate blooming.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Aluminium Plant

Aluminum Plant Photo: TANAKA Juuyoh , via flickr

Latin name: Pilea Cadierei

Description: If you want to enhance the appearance of your home you can pick an Aluminium Plant from the store. It has beautiful dark green leaves with silvery stripes. It’s an easy to grow evergreen plant. When it blooms it does so with small white flowers. You can grow it in baskets, letting it hang down from the ceiling. The Aluminium Plant loves the sun, but keep it in a partial shade during summer. In winter put the plant in a well-lit area near a window. If you want to stimulate growth – pinch out the growing tips. To prevent it from becoming spindly – trim back from time to time.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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Anthurium / Taliflower / Flamingo Flower / Laceleaf

Anthurium Photo: Jim, the Photographer , via flickr

Latin name: Anthurium sp.

Description: The Anthurium has big, bright coloured flowers in white, yellow, red, pink, orange or green. It doesn’t need much water , so forgetting to water it for a bit is a non-issue. Make sure the soil is well-drained to prevent rotting. Anthurium loves well-lit places, but avoid putting it in direct sunlight or near heaters. It is safe for children to touch the plant, but chewing any part of the plant can result in burning of the mouth and lips. So we recommend keeping the Anthurium high up and away from small children.

Children: Safe for children if they don’t eat it.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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Aphelandra / Zebra Plant

Aphelandra Photo: Mokkie , via Wikimedia Commons

Latin name: Aphelandra Squarrosa

Description: As the plants above the zebra plant prefers indirect sunlight. You have to be precise with the watering. Too much or too little water can turn the leaves brown or cause them to fall out. Keep the soil moist. As every tropical plant the Aphelandra loves warmth and humidity. If you want to make it bloom you’ll have to recreate its natural rhythm. Water it less water and lower the temperature to simulate winter. After it wakes up from its winter sleep it will develop new heads of blooms. Then put it in the brightest area of your home and water it generously.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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Baby’s Tears Plant Photo: Liné1 , via Wikimedia Commons

Latin name: Soleirolia Soleirolii

Description: This plant with fragile leaves is suitable for all kinds of garden experiments. It’s often used for terrarium decoration as it likes moisture and shade. It looks dramatic hanging from the edges of pots. Try growing it in bottles. You will be surprised how easy it is! You can grow it in your home or outside. The plant doesn’t bloom, but the leaves are vibrant green and will freshen the interior of your home. The Baby’s Tears plant is incredibly easy to take care of, so if you have a busy schedule it will fit perfectly. It’s a huge plus that it takes as much space as you want it to.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Latin name: Begonia Obliqua

Description: Begonias grow best in shaded or partially shaded areas, preffering humid places with cool soil. They can’t survive a harsh winter, so consider moving them inside after temperatures start to drop. Begonias are most praised for their beautiful flowers. People have cultivated them for a long time and now there are many varieties to choose from. The most popular Begonias to grow inside are the rhizomatous and the fibrous-rooted, while tuberous begonias are suitable for growing outside (e.g. From hanging pots or baskets). Begonias bloom in red, orange, yellow, or white colours.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Bloodleaf / Bloodroot / Iresine / Chicken Gizzard

Bloodleaf Photo: Mokkie , via Wikimedia Commons

Latin name: Iresine Herbstii

Description: If you’re looking for something different for your garden, you should consider growing Iresine. These are plants from the amaranth family. They have reddish trichome leaves. A few bushes will add colour diversity and character to your garden. You can use it to make interesting landscaping patterns. If you want to keep them compact and bushy, you’ll have to prune them in spring. Some mistakenly think it’s an aquarium plant. The truth is that Bloodleaf plants will wither if kept for too long under water.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Boston Fern / Sword Fern / Tuber Ladder Fern / Fishbone Fern

Boston Fern Photo: Mokkie , via Wikimedia Commons

Latin name: Nephrolepis Exaltata

Description: Boston Ferns are incredibly easy to take care of. They love cool, humid places with indirect sunlight. Not a lot of houseplants have these environmental preferences, so the Boston Fern is a perfect candidate for that shady, lonely corner of your living room. Keep the soil damp and you won’t make a mistake. If the air in your house is too dry – spray some water on its leaves. You will easily know if your Boston Fern is not getting enough water by its leaves – they will turn yellowish-brown. To encourage it to grow thicker you have to prune the old discoloured leaves.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Christmas Cactus / Easter Cactus / Thanksgiving Cactus

Latin name: Schlumbergera

Description: If many of your flowers bloom in the springtime and summertime, here’s something different. As you probably have already guessed, this cactus blooms around Christmas. It is easy to care for it in average household conditions. It will adapt to lower light, but provide it with lots of sunshine and it’ll bless you with beautiful red flowers. When it comes to water, keep in mind it’s a cactus and it doesn’t need much of it, but never let it dry out completely. Around October stop watering the plant for a month. This will encourage the Christmas cactus to develop buds. If they drop off, it’s probably due to over-watering or not enough sunlight.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Coleus / Painted Nettle

Latin name: Plectranthus Scutellarioides

Description: The Coleus plant is incredibly easy to grow, which makes it suitable for beginners. If you want to engage your children in gardening, this is a perfect place to start. To distribute it you just have to make cuttings and put them in water. And voila! Roots will start to form. The Coleus plant varies in shape, size and colouration. You can’t go wrong no matter which type you choose. Its colours are usually red, green and white and you can use it to diversify your garden’s overall look. It is suitable to plant in the same container with other flowers or nearby them.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Corn Plant / Striped Dracaena / Chinese Money Tree / Fortune Plant

Corn Plant Photo: Mokkie , via Wikimedia Commons

Latin name: Dracaena Fragrans

Description: The Fortune Plant comes from tropical Africa and has found it’s way to our homes. The leaves look like corn leaves, hence one of its names. The Striped Dracaena enjoys moderate shade and high humidity. To keep up with its requirements spray the leaves with water. Let the soil dry slightly between waterings. As any tropical plant this one loves warmth and it will definitely refuse to grow in colder temperatures. Anything lower than 10 degrees will make the plant wither.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Mildly toxic to cats and dogs.

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Dracaena Photo: Forest and Kim Starr , via flickr

Latin name: Dracaena Marginata, Sanderiana, Deremensis, Draco, Cinnabari

Description: The Dracaena is a very popular plant for offices, malls, and homes. You can choose from their diverse variety to give any room a sense of style. The Dracaenas can be a bit difficult to take care of, but if you follow our tips and you will have a flourishing, healthy plant. Dracaenas need well moisturised soil, but never leave it soggy. Make sure the soil can quickly drain. Fertilise the plant every two weeks during spring and summer. Dracaenas love the sun, so keep them near a window. Don’t worry about the temperature too much, as long as it’s not freezing cold.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Some species of the dracaena family can be irritating to pets, so look up the one you have at home.

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Emerald Ripple Peperomia / Emerald Ripple Pepper / Peperomia / Ivy-Leaf Peperomia

Peperomia Photo: Lazaregagnidze , via Wikimedia Commons

Latin name: Peperomia Caperata

Description: Something specific about the Pepermonia is that it likes shadier places during summer, but in winter it needs as much light as possible. It can also grow with only fluorescent light, which makes it ideal for terrariums. It can also be placed in mixed planters. Prune the plant in the warmer seasons to keep it bushy. Keep the temperatures average and don’t let it drop under 10°C. Let the soil dry before you water it again. If you live somewhere where you don’t get frost in winter, you can use the Pepermonia as ground cover.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Hen-And-Chicks Plant / Hen-And-Biddies / Houseleeks

Hen-And-Chickens Plant Photo: davef3138 , via flickr

Latin name: Sempervivum

Description: Hen-And-Chicks is a group of succulent plants. The name refers to the fact one mother rosette forms many babies around it. These sweet-looking succulents have adapted to harsh conditions and can thrive in both cold and hot weather. Bear in mind however that if the temperature gets too low or high the plant will cease growing. They make excellent container plants. You should grow them in low in nutrients gritty soil and water them scarcely. The low requirements makes Hens-And-chicks ideal for people with busy schedule.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Hoya / Waxplant / Waxvine / Waxflower / Hindu Rope / Porcelain Flower

Hoya Photo: Lorenzo Andrioli , via flickr

Latin name: Hoya

Description: There are around 200-300 species, which found their way from Asia to homes all over the world. Hoyas have waxy leaves, hence the common name. They are evergreen and can grow to enormous proportions. The soil needs to be light and well drained. You will enjoy a healthy plant as long as you keep it out of direct sunlight. To make your Hoya plant bloom it needs a break during winter. Keep the temperatures low and reduce the intake of food and water.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Impatiens / Touch-Me-Not / Jewelweed / Snapweed / Patience

Latin name: Impatiens

Description: Impatiens is easy to grow plant with beautiful flowers. It likes shade and cool moist soil. The closer they’re planted together, the taller they get. So plant the flowers 8 to 10 inches apart or keep them in separate pots. Water the plants regularly, but don’t keep them too wet. Impatiens has many names but the Latin name comes from the way the plant spreads – it has seed pods and when ripe they burst and scatter everywhere. Thus, it may be invasive and not recommended to grow in Australia. You can also propagate Impatiens through cuttings.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Jade Plant / Friendship tree / Lucky plant / Money tree

Jade Plant Photo: TANAKA Juuyoh , via flickr

Latin name: Crassula ovata

Description: Jade plant is very appealing with its miniature tree-like looks. You can have it as a normal houseplant in a pot or turn it into a bonsai tree. It’s incredibly easy to look after and you don’t have to water it frequently as other common household plants. It likes warm and dry conditions. Dampening the soil too much may cause the roots to rot. Put the jade plant in a sunny place near a window during the summer and make sure to remove it away from the cold window sills in the winter. You can easily harvest jade plants by just sticking leaves in well-drained soil. You can expect it to start growing in a few weeks.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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Yellow day lily Photo: Leonora (Ellie) Enking , via flickr

Latin name: Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus

Description: To the joy of many women around the world, you can grow these exotic looking flowers in a pot at home. All you need is healthy bulbs and medium to large pot. Make sure the soil drains well, as that’s very important for the flower. Sandy soil is the best for lilies. To continue having these beautiful flowers, fertilise the soil often. Don’t overwater it. Stick your finger in the soil to check if it’s dry or moist. If it’s moist, wait a little. To overwinter the lilies just leave them in the same pot, just cut the stalks off and stop watering them. Put them somewhere inside like in the basement and leave them like this. If it’s too warm they won’t blossom next summer. If taken care of properly, you’ll enjoy them for years to come.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats, safe for dogs.

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Parlor palm / Neanthe bella palm

Parlor palm Photo: Forest and Kim Starr , via flickr

Latin name: Chamaedorea elegans

Description: The name suits the Parlor palm very much and it can make any room more elegant. It’s perfectly suited for apartments and offices and it’s often picked for it’s air purifying qualities. And if you don’t have a lot of space at home, that’s okay, because the Parlor palm is a slow grower, especially if you keep it away from windows. It thrives in low-light environments and direct sunlight can do more damage than good. Water it sparingly.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Prayer plant / Maranta

Latin name: Maranta leuconeura

Description: Prayer plant seems easy to grow but it actually some very specific needs.To thrive has to be fed with fertiliser every two weeks all through spring to fall. It loves the sun and humid air. Just like for many other plants, keep the soil moist but not soggy. During winter, when the plant goes into dormancy, leave the soil a bit drier and stop using fertiliser. The plant still needs humid air, so you can use different tactics to achieve that. Here are some ideas.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Rubber plant / Rubber fig / Rubber bush / Rubber tree / Indian rubber bush

Rubber plant Photo: Dinesh Valke , via flickr

Latin name: Ficus elastica

Description: This beautiful plant with deep green leaves makes a comeback in the modern interior design. You can buy it as a very young and small plant and watch how it becomes a big tree overtime. You can restrict its growth by leaving it in a smaller pot. When it reaches the desired height cut the top. It will then start to branch out. Pruning dead of dying leaves won’t stop the growth of your Rubber plant so do that when necessary. Place it near a window or leave it outside for the summer and you’ll see it thrive. If you don’t supply it with enough light, it may start loosing it’s lower leaves.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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Schefflera / Dwarf umbrella tree

Schefflera Photo: Forest and Kim Starr , via flickr

Latin name: Schefflera arboricola

Description: The Schefflera can come in many shapes and forms. In the wilderness it can grow up to 30 ft so you might not expect this big plant to find its way to you living room in a pot. It also is one of the most popular trees for bonsai thanks to its beautiful aerial roots. You can easy propagate Schefflera from cuttings and you can expect them to start growing in a month. It looks best when there are several plants placed in one pot. It can be a great addition to any spacious room and can be used as a natural air refreshener. Unfortunately, it’s not suitable if you have pets because it’s extremely toxic for them.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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Sensitive plant / Sleepy plant / Dormilones / Touch-me-not / Shy plant

Sensitive plant Photo: Lalithamba , via flickr

Latin name: Mimosa pudica

Description: The Sensitive plant got it’s name from the way it closes its leaves when something touches them. It’s a tropical creeping annual plant which, in contrast to its reputation, isn’t at all that sensitive. It’s actually considered as an invasive weed in many places and doesn’t need much care. It likes full sun and moist soil. And as you can guess, since it’s a tropical plant, it cannot tolerate cold weather, so keep inside during winter and away from the cold windows. With its responsiveness, the Mimosa can be very attractive to children, so keep that in mind even though it’s not toxic.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Snake plant / Mother-in-law’s tongue / Viper’s bowstring hemp

Snake plant Photo: Mokkie , via Wikimedia Commons

Latin name: Sansevieria trifasciata

Description: A very tolerant plant. You can even forget it exists and it’ll still manage to survive. It can go through periods of drought, low light, insect problems, etc and it’ll still look fresh. If you want it to thrive, just provide it with some sunlight and don’t water it too much. If that isn’t the perfect house plant! It’s also a great air purifier. If you want to propagate a Snake plant the best method is to divide it. Put it in a small pot as it likes cramped spaces (I know, right!). The only downside is that it’s kind of prickly so it might not be the most suitable plant if you have small children.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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Spider plant / Airplane plant / St. Bernard’s lily / Spider ivy / Ribbon plant

Latin name: Chlorophytum comosum

Description: Adaptable, one of the easiest to grow, safe for children, safe for pets. Perfect! If you’re a newbie gardener, this can be your first experiment as it’s one tough plant. Water the spider plant generously, but don’t let the soil to be soggy and wait it to dry inbetween waterings. When you start seeing roots peeking from the soil, you need to re-plant it in a larger pot. A mature plant blossoms in spring and grows small spiderettes which you can plant to have a few more of this easy-going plant.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Swedish ivy / Swedish begonia / Whorled plectranthus

Swedish ivy Photo: Forest and Kim Starr , via flickr

Latin name: Plectranthus verticillatus

Description: This vine-looking beauty can find its way to many homes as even noobie gardeners can take a good care of it. Even though it kind of resembles an ivy with its cascading stems, it isn’t, it’s closely related to the mint. You can refreshen any place by putting the Swedish ivy in baskets and letting it hang from the ceiling. It likes bright direct light and doesn’t tolerate cold, so if you keep it on the balcony, bring it inside at the end of summer. It prefers humid environments, so pulverising it from time to time can help it thrive. Water it sparingly, overwatering may kill your plant. To keep it from becoming too leggy, pinch off the tips after it flowers.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Velvet plant / Purple passion

Velvet plant Photo: elnudomolesto , via flickr

Latin name: Gynura aurantiaca

Description: If you want to have an uncommon addition to your little home garden – the velvet plant is just for you. It has peculiar looks – long soft and fuzzy purple leaves, which can make any place a bit more sophisticated. It grows fast but its lifespan is around 2-3 years, so it’s a good idea to propagate the mature plant while you still can. To do that – give it a trim, place the cuttings in water and after a while they’ll be ready to plant. Remember that you can bring out the purple colour more if you place the plant in a sunny place. The more sun, the more intense the colour gets. If the colour starts to fade now you know what causes it and what to do. The Velvet plant has one small downside – it has foul smelling flowers. But the solution to that problem is easy – when it blossoms, just snip the flowers off.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Safe for cats and dogs.

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Wandering jew / Small-leaf spiderwort / River spiderwort / Inch plant / Wandering trad / Wandering willie / Wandering gypsy

Wandering Jew Photo: Mokkie , via Wikimedia Commons

Latin name: Tradescantia fluminensis

Description: There are several types of the Wandering jew. The Tradescantia fluminensis is a creeping plant with small fleshy leaves. It is tolerant to shade and usually thrives in forests. It can live in a wet or moist soil, high and low temperatures, but it’s intolerant to drought and frost. You might wonder why is it named Wandering jew? Because the plant changes the direction it grows at every “joint”. It’s considered an invasive plant – it grows fast (about an inch a week) and can take over other plants which won’t be a problem if you’re growing it in a pot.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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Weeping fig / Benjamin fig

Weeping fig Photo: Andy / Andrew Fogg , via flickr

Latin name: Ficus benjamina

Description: The Benjamin fig is one of the most popular miniature trees to take care of at home. You can control how much it grows, so it’s one of the suitable trees for bonsai. You can put it on a window sill or on the floor. It has small pointy (but not prickly) leaves which can be either all green of green with white edges and it can often be seen in offices. One thing you should keep in mind about the Weeping fig is that it doesn’t like to be moved in different spots around the house. It most probably will shock the Benjamin fig and it will start shedding its leaves. Just keep the soil wet, not moist and you might enjoy this pretty little tree for years.

Children: Safe for children.

Pets: Toxic for cats and dogs.

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This list is based on a government research.

Identifying Plants

In case you didn’t see your plants in the list we advice you to contact a local expert gardener to identify it. Then you can contact your regional Poison Information Informational Hotline on 13 11 26 with the Latin or the most common name of the plant.

Decorative Listicles

Thinking about the Best Houseplants for Kids, for their rooms? These indoor plants are low care, non-toxic and each has a distinctive appearance to attract the children.

There are about zillions of options to choose from when it comes to houseplants. But when it comes to choosing houseplants for children, it becomes even more important to be selective. The first and foremost priority while selecting the houseplant is that it should not be toxic and prickly, other aspects to consider are their appearance, growing requirements, and unique features. For example, the sensitive plant, which has the ability to unfold its leaves when touched.

1. Snake Plant

You’ll not be able to find an alternative to this one when it comes to a friendly houseplant. It does not require much attention and live without water for a long duration. If that’s not enough, this plant also purifies the air like no other houseplant. See its benefits here!

2. Gerbera Jamesonii

Children adore this plant because of the large beautiful flowers. Turn your child’s bedroom more vibrant and colorful by making the combination of various colorful flowering varieties. The only stipulation to make gerbera daisy bloom indoors is sunlight. If there’s a window in your kid’s room that gets partial sunlight, keep it there.

Also Read: Gerbera Daisy Care & Growing Guide

3. Christmas Cactus

Easy to propagate, Christmas cactus will help children to learn the art of propagation. The growth of new plants from cutting is surely going to leave them awestruck. It blooms during the holiday season, which makes it a perfect plant choice for the winter months.

4. African Violet

Native to Africa they do exceptionally well in indoor conditions. Lavender, blue, pink, red, and white are some of the common colors of its flowers. One of the best houseplants for kids, keep them in a spot that receives all day long bright indirect sunlight, much better if there’s an exposure to just a few hours of the morning sun.

Also Read: Involving Kids To Gardening

5. Boston Fern

Most people believe that ferns are toxic to children and pets which is not the case with Boston fern and a few others like the sword or maidenhair fern, find a few more here. It is a classic addition to any interior. Check out best ferns you can grow indoors.

6. ZZ Plant

ZZ plant is an interesting houseplant; it grows well in indirect light and doesn’t require much maintenance. You can count on your kid–it’ll not die. It has low watering needs and seldom gets affected by pest infestation. One thing to remember about ZZ is, ingesting it is mildly toxic due to the calcium oxalate in it. It’s better not to plant this in young kids’ room or better notify them.

7. Spider Plant

Due to its unusual name, and little spiderettes that dangles down from the mother plant, spider plant can render curiosity in your child. This plant is low maintenance, so no extra care. It has many health benefits too, you find them here. And, the best part, it’s completely safe and non-toxic.

Also Read: How to Care for Spider Plants

8. Lucky Bamboo

One of the easiest houseplants that even a child can grow. It can grow solely in water, which is definitely going to leave kids amazed. Fill any glass vase with water and place the lucky bamboo plants in that. Remember, the water should cover the roots. It’s one of the positive energy plants according to Feng Shui, find more such plants here.

9. Flowering Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe is one of the few best flowering houseplants. It can perk up any room with its vibrant blooms–the only requirement is sunlight. If you have a South or West-facing window, it’ll flower profusely.

Note: This plant is non-poisonous to human but mild to moderately poisonous to pets and livestock.

10. Jasmine

This popular plant tops the list when it comes to fragrant flowers. Research has shown that surrounding yourself with the scent of jasmine has a calming effect. It also helps in concentration, enhances mood and boosts memory. To grow jasmine indoors, you’ll need a spot that gets at least a few hours of direct sunlight.

11. Air Plants

Air plants don’t need soil to grow. They’re super easy to grow and can make your kids attractive towards growing plants. Locate them at a spot with good air circulation. Avoid keeping them at places with cold drafts and air conditioner vents. Learn how to care for air plants here.

Also Read: How to Save a Dying Air Plant

12. Jade Plant

Resilient to diseases and a long lifespan, if that was not enough this plant also produces flowers. The oval-shaped leaves and bonsai-like look gives the jade plant a charming appearance and makes it a suitable plant for bonsais. Check out this list of best plants and trees for bonsai.

Note: Jade plant is mildly toxic, ingesting it can cause slight stomach upset.

13. Peace Lily

If existing as a non-toxic plant is not enough this plant removes VOCs like Formaldehyde, Toluene, and Xylene from the air as well. It’s in the list of NASA plants and also helps in restful sleep. The main reason peace lily is famous for its big white bracts.

14. Ponytail Palm

One other bizarre name of this succulent plant is Elephant’s foot–It’s due to its appearance. It tolerates drought, grows well in indirect sunlight and doesn’t suffer from major pest problems. All these facts make it an excellent houseplant for children’s room.

15. Bromeliad

It is a long lasting plant which brings the feeling of the sunkissed tropical region to your home. Because of its exotic and vibrant foliage, many people believe that it must be a high maintenance plant, which is far from being true.

16. Rubber Tree

Children are susceptible to irritation in eyes, nose, throat, and even some respiratory problems when exposed to formaldehyde, and rubber tree plant can remove it. It’s such a beautiful large houseplant, also, perfect for home offices and living rooms. Learn about the plants that reduce formaldehyde here.

Note: The sap of the rubber tree plant is mildly toxic.

17. Dracaena

Many species of Dracaena are popular indoor plants as they are low maintenance and large-sized plants. Dracaena Marginata aka Dragon tree is one of those varieties, which was also a part of the famous NASA plant study as it purifies the indoor air.

18. Pothos

Pothos is a beautiful trailing houseplant with heart-shaped leaves. You can add them in hanging baskets in your kid’s room in a spot that receives indirect sunlight. Also, there are many health benefits of pothos plants, which you can read here.

19. Sensitive Plant

Mimosa pudica, which is known as ‘Sensitive plant’ or ‘Shame plant,’ grows naturally in tropics. The reason behind the interesting names is its leaves that fold inward when touched. This plant needs warmth and all day long bright indirect light (the more light, the better thrive indoors.

Also Read: How to Grow Mimosa Pudica

20. Croton

Crotons are gorgeous plants, there’re many varieties to choose from, and all of them can beautify any room due to their noticeable foliage. Children will love them for their large and colorful glossy leaves. One thing to note is they’re slightly poisonous and can cause non-serious medical conditions after ingestion.

21. Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plants are difficult to grow. But, you can definitely grow them, and there are not many plants in this list that can compete with the interest they will create in your kids. You can learn how to care for them here.

22. Lithops

Lithops are small succulent plants that look like stones or pebbles–you can also grow them indoors. They will surely catch the interest of young ones. Everything about growing lithops and their care is here in this article.

23. Lemon Tree

Growing a lemon tree in a pot is easy, and you can grow it indoors if you’ve got a sunny window. However, take care of its thorns. Some varieties are very prickly and if you have a naughty kid or dog, be extra careful. Check out our growing guide to learn more.

24. Echeveria

Echeverias are beautiful succulents with fleshy blue-green leaves. You can experiment and plant them in unique small containers for a more intriguing look. Here’re a few ideas. You can grow them in wine glasses, bottles, terrariums and toys.

Also Read: Growing Plants in Wine Glasses

25. Polka Dot Plant

A suitable houseplant to keep in your children’s room for their dramatic look, and our Editor’s favorite. They’re also known as freckled face or pink splash plant due to the beautiful pink, purple, white color spots on their leaves as if the paint is sprayed.

Note: It’s non-toxic according to ASPCA.

I am passionate about indoor plants, not just in the children’s areas but throughout our home. A home doesn’t feel like a home without a bit of greenery. I’ve been into classrooms who do indoor plants really well, and I’ve also been into a few classrooms with next to no living things in them (other than the students and staff). Indoor plants are fantastic for purifying the air and creating a feeling of warmth.

Today I wanted to get everyone thinking about their own environments, children’s areas in the home or classroom. Is it vibrant, is it alive? Could your space do with an extra plant or two?

I’m always bringing home (or propagating from friends and family) more plants and at the moment I am striving for greater diversity. Different shapes, textures, different ways of growing plants for the children to explore! There are many types of really practical indoor plants (too many for me to mention) but here are a few ideas.

Nontoxic (for children) indoor plant suggestions:

  • Maidenhair, Button, Boston, Lace Ferns
  • Jade
  • African Violets
  • Coleus
  • Marigold
  • Herbs – basil, rosemary, parsley
  • Spider Plant
  • Prayer Plant
  • Zebra Plant
  • Christmas Cactus (when flowering these look gorgeous)
  • Bamboo
  • Baby’s Tears
  • Grape Ivy (hanging)
  • Croton

Many of our favourite indoor plants need to be used with caution. These are not to be ingested and I would recommend for older children only (some are toxic under some circumstances):

  • Air plants (Tillandsia) – oh so easy to care for!
  • Plants in a terrarium – I’m hesitant to mention terrariums as I’ve had my failures but they are well worth pursuing.
  • Climbing plants, Hanging plants – Philodendron (is toxic when consumed).
  • Succulents, Aloe
  • Carnivorous plants – these are fun, there are some really unique and interesting varieties.
  • Big glossy-leaved plants – Peace Lilly, Fiddle Leaf Fig, Monstera.
  • Indoor trees – I’ve had the most success with the Ficus varieties.
  • Sprouts, growing food from seed.

With all plants check their toxicity before introducing them to your children. There is a good guide to what plants are toxic at UW Health and here at Safe Kid. For Australians, Raising Children has Dangerous Plants Checklist. I love many of these plants but would keep them out of range of small children. All have different requirements for sun/shade and water and some work better in each locality. I also love exploring plants, seeing what can be propagated, what will grow in water and in jars!

I’d love to hear what plants you have in your home or classroom!

Have you been wondering which plants are best for the classroom, but can’t get around to doing the research to find out? Bringing a little greenery into the classroom or office provide a host of wellness benefits that are hard to argue with. Research into workplace environments has shown that there are measurable associations between the presence of indoor plants and increased productivity, reduced stress and reduced time off with sickness. Even NASA explore the best and worst indoor plants for helping to improve air quality should humans ever need to live in a “sealed” environment on another planet!

For just a few of the many reasons why plants are amazing in your classroom, read Emma’s blog Plant Power | 5 Benefits of Plants in the Classroom. If you’re not much of a green-thumb but would like to keep a few classroom plants, look no further! With my two main points of consideration being ease of care and allergy friendliness, I’ve compiled a list of the best and worst indoor plants for classrooms.

The Best Classroom Plants

Not only are jade plants easy to take care of but they are also known to be symbols of good luck! These plants have a thick woody stem with rubbery leaves

How to Care for a Jade Plant

  • Plant in a pot that is a little wider than you think the plant needs. Jade tends to grow quite top-heavy, so will need the support of a bigger pot later on!
  • Pot using a free-draining soil, or a cactus/succulent mix.
  • Jade plants are best in a sunny spot! So keep this one by a bright window.
  • Water when the top of the soil is dry to touch. But be careful not to over-water as Jade plants do not like to be waterlogged.
  • Fertilise once every 3 – 4 months with an all-purpose fertiliser.
  • Wipe the leave with a damp cloth every now and again to remove dust.

#2 Spider Plant

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I’m a wild one 🌱💚

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Spider plants have long, thin green and white leaves. They are a striking plant to have in a hanging basket or macrame plant hanger. Spider plants are so-named because of the long stems of “spiderettes” that grow from the “mother plant”.

How to Care for a Spider Plant

  • Pot using a free-draining potting mix.
  • Keep your spider plant in low to medium light.
  • Water only when the soil is dry to touch, making sure not to waterlog the plant.
  • Prune your spider plant once a year in Spring or Summer by cutting discoloured and dead leaves or unwanted spiderettes at the very base of the plant.
  • Repot only when the roots of the plant begin to show at the top of the pot.

#3 “Janet Craig” Dracaena

This is a specific variety of dracaena species that can grow up to 3m (10 ft) tall if not pruned. That said, it makes a gorgeous floor plant to help disguise filing cabinets or other less-desirable classroom feature!

How to Care for a Janet Craig Dracaena

  • Yes, it’s a running theme in this post, but don’t over-water your new dracaena.
  • Prune back if it gets too tall by simply cutting the cane at any point. The plant will sprout a new cluster of leaves.
  • Move to a larger pot when the roots have filled the original one.
  • Flush salts from the soil once a year, but taking the plant out into a warm spot out of direct sunlight and slowly pouring luke-warm water over the soil.
  • Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove dust build up.

#4 Chinese Evergreen

A stunning plant with white and green leaves, Chinese Evergreens are another indoor planted that are touted as making a novice gardener look like an expert! Although being a tropical plant, it will enjoy warmer locations where the temperature doesn’t drop much below 16°C (60°F).

  • Pot using a free-draining soil.
  • Place in a spot with low-medium filtered light.
  • Water occasionally, allowing the soil to dry out a little between each watering.
  • Prune off any flowers or dead leave by reaching into the plant and cutting as close to the bottom of the stem as possible.

#5 Lucky Bamboo

Another species of dracaena, you can grow lucky bamboo in water or soil! Place a few stems of lucky bamboo in a tall glass vase to easily keep track of its watering needs, or place the bamboo in a pot and fill it with pebbles and water. Alternatively, plant your bamboo in a well-draining soil.

How to Care for Lucky Bamboo in Water

  • Keep your lucky bamboo out of direct sunlight.
  • Make sure that the roots of the bamboo are always covered with water.
  • As the stalks grow taller, move the bamboo into a taller pot or container to ensure you can still fill it past the roots.
  • Prune any thin or crooked shoots 2.5-5cm from the main stalk.

How to Care for Lucky Bamboo in Soil

  • Keep your lucky bamboo in an area with low to medium light.
  • Water regularly to ensure the soil is always moist to touch.

Plants to Avoid in the Classroom

It is best to avoid the following indoor plants as they can increase allergies such as hay fever and skin rashes.

Avoid Flowering Plants with High Levels of Pollen

Flowers or flowering plants such as daisies, sunflowers, chamomile, Queen Anne’s lace, African violets and chrysanthemums have high levels of pollen and a known to make life terribly uncomfortable for sufferers of hayfever!

Avoid Plants That Cause Skin Irritations

Some common indoor plants might not be suitable for the classroom as they can cause rashes or other irritations to people with sensitive skin. Avoid plants such as ferns, bonsai, English Ivy, Weeping Figs, palm trees and Yukkas.

Avoid Plants That Are Poisonous When Ingested

While this sounds like a no-brainer it is surprising just how many plants can cause illness if ingested. The Zanzibar Gem is a popular indoor plant that is touted to “thrive on neglect”. However, the sap from this plant is toxic which makes it one that might not be worth the risk in your classroom. Similarly, Peace Lilies and Snake Plants (a.k.a. Mother-in-Law’s Tongue) are also toxic to humans when ingested.

Check out our cute Classroom Garden posters!

Keeping plants in the classroom isn’t just about aesthetics. The simple act of looking at a plant triggers a positive response in our brain. So when students are feeling tired, stressed or struggling to keep their attention on the task at hand, having plants around might just help them out in that moment!

Not only that but keeping plants can be a great part of continuing your class conversation about sustainability and the environment. Use your class plants to explore life cycles, learn about why living things need water and practice “plants in action” vocabulary every day.

Yates Zanzibar Gem
Plants for People with Allergies
Best and Worst House Plants
NASA Indoor Plant Study
Psychological Benefits of Indoor Plants in Workplaces
Worst Houseplants for Allergies
Guide to House Plants: Janet Craig Dracaena
Gardening Know How
Lucky Bamboo in Soil
Plant Safety

Flowers or Plants That Are Safe for Children in School Classrooms

Plants brighten up a classroom and provide opportunities for learning how to take care of growing things. However, plants can wreak havoc in a classroom if a student or teacher has a plant allergy. Some plants are also poisonous if sampled by students 2. While high school students can generally be trusted not to eat plants, the same cannot be said of preschoolers or special needs kids. The safest plants for the classroom have both a low allergen potential and won’t make kids sick if tasted or cause allergic reactions when touched.

Carnivore Plants

There are few things related to the plant world more fascinating to a school-aged kid than feeding insects to a living plant. The Venus flytrap, despite the name and science fiction reputation, makes a safe school classroom choice because it does not eat little fingers or anything bigger than an insect, which makes it perfectly safe for people. It is interesting, non-toxic and not known as a plant with high allergy potential. Additionally, children have a natural affinity for this unusual plant. The Venus flytrap also serves as an excellent learning tool because it is a carnivorous plant.


Flowers not only brighten up the classroom and improve the air, they also provide quick gratification. Flowers considered safe from both an allergy and a toxic perspective include:

  • African violets
  • begonias
  • evening primrose
  • impatiens
  • petunias
  • zinnias
  • according to Dr

Retha Edens
* an assistant professor of science education at Saint Louis University.

Safe Herbs

Growing herbs in the classroom teaches children where grocery store spices in a jar actually come from. Herbs grow relatively quickly, so children can see the results of their labors. Nontoxic herbs not usually associated with allergies for the classroom include basil, chives and oregano, Edens reports.

Other Plants

Prayer plants, spider plants and bird’s nest ferns all work well in classrooms, according to Edens. All three have interesting names, don’t cause toxic reactions if eaten or touched, are unlikely to cause allergic reactions and grow well indoors. Spider plants are particularly hardy, and they grow quickly. Additionally, the numerous plantlets of the spider plant might amuse the students, and they can introduce botany, in how to multiply the spider plant.


The good parent versus the garden!

All parents want to keep their preschool children safe in the garden. There are so many hazards. Selecting the right kind of plants can be a daunting task, especially as so many common favourites are poisonous.

Don’t give up good gardening parents! There are plenty of friendly plants you can grow around play spaces.

List of the top 8 safe plants for the concerned parent: Very easy to grow child safe plants

The following is a selection of non-toxic plants. Please feel free to add other examples to the comments section. It’s also worth pointing out that even if it a plant is considered as non-toxic, eating large quantities of any non-food plant can result in a stomach upset. For this reason, keep an eye on small children and explain to them the importance of not eating from the garden.

  1. Nasturtium
    A highly attractive annual flowering plant. Very peppery! Both leaves and flowers can be used in salad as cress. You can eat all parts of the plant. Seeds as they are bitter and may contain higher levels of toxins. Avoid if you have stomach complaints such as ulcers.
  2. Snapdragons (Antirrhinum)
    A colourful and fun half-hardy annual. Not at all edible (foul-tasting), but not toxic either. Children love their open and shut mouths! There are some suggestions to avoid the seeds.
  3. Pot Marigold (Calendula)
    Great all round annual flowering plant. Very colourful can be used to decorate salads.
  4. Amaranthus
    Lovely annual flower. Children will love their hanging red millet-like flowers. Can be used like spinach.
  5. Lemon Verbena
    Fast growing perennial/sub-shrub. Although the flowers are fairly missable, these plants make up for it with the scent of their leaves.
  6. Chives
    Onion-like grassy clumps with attractive purple pom-pom flowers. Lovely in salad or stir-fries.
  7. Borage
    Annual flowering plant with attractive blue star-shaped flowers. Good in soups, salads and certain alcoholic beverages. Hairy, slightly prickly leaves may put off many children from consuming.
  8. Lemon Balm
    Lovely mint-like perennial plant with a strong lemon sherbet scent and flavour. Makes a good tea or cold drink.
  9. Canna Lily (Not to be confused with Calla Lily or Lilium! Both of these are toxic)
    A favourite perennial. Produces large tropical leaves and gladioli-like flowers. Not at all toxic. Root can be eaten light water chestnuts.
  10. Daylily (Hemerocallis)
    Lovely grassy leaves and trumpet flowers served daily. Flowers taste like melon.
  11. Dahlia
    A very versatile and attractive flowering plant family, with a wide range of flower and foliage types. Only toxic if eaten in huge quantities.
  12. Linden Tree (Lime)
    Not at all toxic. The Linden or Lime tree’s leaves taste like lettuce and make a great lettuce substitute. They also contain beneficial antioxidants. The flowers can be made into a tea that is said to aid brain development.

Other non-toxic plants for outdoors

Please note: Although these plants are considered non-toxic, your child may experience a reaction. Be vigilant! This list may not apply to animals.

  1. African Daisy (Arctotis)
    A tough and colourful daisy-like tender perennial flowering plant. Non-toxic. Be careful not to confuse with toxic Osteospermum.
  2. Alyssum
    A lovely honey scented annual. Creates dense mats of either white, light or dark pink. Alyssum is non-toxic.
  3. Astilbe
    Lovely feathery flowering perennial plant for shade and damp. Astilbe is non-toxic.
  4. Begonia
    A lovely range of flowering tender perennials with a variety of attractive flowers and leaves. Although this plant is not toxic to human, all parts of the plant are poisonous to other animals.
  5. California Poppy (Eschscholzia)
    A lovely bright and fiery poppy-like flower above silvery leaves. The California Poppy is used in herbal medicine. Will grow as an annual.
  6. Coleus
    Bright and colourful leaves and easy to grow. Coleus is not toxic to humans but may be to other animals.
  7. Cosmos
    A lovely non-toxic annual flower. Large white, pink or purple flowers hovering above a mist of green leaves.
  8. Crab Apple
    Only if eaten in quantity, crab apples may cause stomach upset. As with all apples, be careful of seeds. They contain chemicals that metabolised into cyanide during digestion.
  9. Creeping Jenny (Moneywort)
    A lovely creeping plant with attractive yellow flowers.
  10. Dandelion
    A perennial flowering plant, often makes itself at home in our gardens with little effort! A good diuretic. Shouldn’t be eaten in high quantities as the leaves contain oxalates.
  11. Daisies
    A lovely lawn dwelling perennial flower. The daisy poses very little or no toxicity risk.
  12. Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
    The Evening Primrose is said to be edible and has medicinal benefits. It has large yellow or pink buttercup-like flowers.
  13. Forsythia
    Lovely banana skin flowering shrub. Fun fact: The plant is named after Bruce Forsyth’s great grandfather, who discovered it!
  14. Fuchsia
    A versatile perennial flowering plant. The dark red fruits can can be eaten but may cause a dry or slightly sore throat.
  15. Geraniums
    A bright, showy and rewarding tender/hardy perennial plant. Has some herbal and culinary uses.
  16. Hibiscus
    A highly tropical flowering shrub or herbaceous perennial. Hibiscus is not at all toxic, but some people have reported a mild allergic reaction when in contact with leaves and flowers.
  17. Hollyhock
    Tall, Hibiscus-like flowers on this lovely herbaceous perennial. Although Hollyhock is not toxic, it may cause dermatitis in some people when touched.
  18. Hosta
    A lovely tropical foliage perennial plant. May be toxic to cats and dogs, but not generally to human. Eating Hostas may lead to a stomach upset in small children.
  19. House Leek (Sempervivum: Hen & Chicks)
    Tough, densely growing, Sempervivums have been used as a medicinal herb. Not toxic, and some people actually eat them!
  20. Impatiens (Busy Lizzie)
    A lovely shade dwelling flowering annual. The Busy Lizzie has a bitter flavour and may cause stomach upset.
  21. Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)
    A small, self-seeding perennial plant with forget-me-not like flowers above small glossy palmate leaves. No toxic effects reported for this plant.
  22. Lilac
    A lovely shrub with large clusters of showy, fragrant flowers. Lilac is not toxic. They contain no compounds that will poison or affect humans.
  23. Magnolia
    One of the most beautiful flowering trees. Some varieties are non-toxic (such as the Star Magnolia) and others (such as the Southern magnolia) have highly toxic seeds. Read this article about Magnolia toxicity for more details.
  24. Maidenhair Fern
    A lovely green fern with curling throngs. Some ferns are toxic, but not this one. The maidenhair fern is not only non-toxic, it’s also a herbal remedy for treating asthma, rheumatism and even strengthening hair.
  25. French Marigold (except Marsh Marigold – poisonous!)
    Very showy yellow, orange and fiery sweet herbal scented flowers. Technically, they are toxic. However, the toxicity is very mild and usually only manifests itself as skin redness and irritation. Not to be confused with Marsh Marigold, which is poisonous)
  26. Mountain Ash (Rowan)
    A common small tree with bright scarlet berries. The berries are used in making jams, jellies, cordials and even wine. Unprocessed berries may cause a stomach upset.
  27. Mulberry
    A large tree with blackberry-like fruit. Although the leaves of the Mulberry are possibly mildly toxic with some herbal benefits, the berries are delicious!
  28. Palms
    Tropical shrubs with a wide variety of leaves and form. Most palms are non-toxic, except the Fishtail and Caryota varieties.
  29. Petunia
    Lovely flowering annual with often scented trumpet-like flowers. Some people eat the flowers.
  30. Phlox (Perennial)
    A herbaceous perennial with tall flowering spikes. Regarded as non-toxic. The flowers work well in salads and cakes.
  31. Common Purslane
    A succulent annual. Great in salads. Common Purslane has some health benefits.
  32. Rose
    The loveliest of scented shrubs. Rose petals can be eaten. The only issue could be thorns.
  33. Salvia
    Usually brightly coloured and aromatic family of flowering plants. Salvias are not usually toxic, but some reactions may ensue if eaten.
  34. Spiraea
    A flowering shrub with white or pink bracts. Spiraea has been used in traditional medicine and is not considered to be toxic.
  35. Violets
    Lovely biannual flowering plants. Violets have edible flowers.
  36. Weeping Willow
    A tree with hanging branches and fine bamboo-like leaves. Not considered as toxic.
  37. Weigela
    A deciduous shrub with foxglove-like flowers. The Weigela is considered as poisonous.
  38. Zinnia
    A bright sun-loving tender perennial flower. Very showy. Not edible, but not toxic.

Child-Safe, non-poisonous house plants

  1. African Violet
    Soft furry leaves with pink, white or blue flowers, similar to that of the wax begonia. The African Violet is not at all toxic.
  2. Aluminum Plant
    Very interesting leaves. They do technically contain a mild toxin but are not a risk
  3. Christmas Cactus
    A lovely and rewarding spineless cactus. The Christmas Cactus is absolutely free of poisonous compounds.
  4. Dracaena
    A popular indoor palm. Dracaena is not considered to be poisonous to humans. It can cause some negative reactions in some people with heightened sensitivities.
  5. Freesia
    A highly scented bulb-based flower. No part of a freesia is toxic and safe to have in the home or garden.
  6. Gardenia
    Highly scented camellia-like white flowering shrub. Gardenias are not poisonous, but their woody stems may offer a choking hazard.
  7. Gloxinia
    Very lovely velvety leaves and flowers. Gloxinias are not a risk to humans or animals
  8. Kalanchoe
    A Succulent perennial with coral or salmon flowers. Kalanchoe is not considered to be toxic to humans but can be to cats and dogs.
  9. Orchids
    A prized indoor tropical flowering plant. Orchids such as Cattleya, Epidendrum, Oncidium, Paphiopedilum are considered to be non-toxic. Other varieties may be toxic.
  10. Poinsettia
    A Christmas classic. Non-toxic but some may experience a reaction if eaten.
  11. Streptocarpus
    A very rewarding and profusely flowering house plant. Considered to be non-poisonous.
  12. Venus Fly Trap
    A fly eating house plant. The Venus Fly Trap is not at all considered to be toxic…unless you are a small insect.
  13. Yucca
    A leafy house palm. Yucca plants are not harmful to humans, but they may be to cats and dogs.

Poisonous: Common plants to avoid!

  • Acorn (Oak)
    Contains high concentrations of tannic acid and can be harmful to humans if eaten in large quantities.
  • Amaryllis
    The bulb is the most toxic part of the plant.
  • Angel’s Trumpet
    All parts of the plant are poisonous – the seeds and leaves being especially dangerous.
  • Anemone
    Contain protoanemonin, which can lead to severe skin and gastrointestinal irritation, burning in the mouth and throat, mouth ulcers, vomiting/nausea, diarrhea, and hematemesis.
  • Asparagus Fern
    Contact with sap can result in skin irritation. Enticing, bright red berries can cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Autumn Crocus
    Contains colchicine and colchicine which can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms, followed by convulsions, cardiovascular collapse, multi-organ failure and blood clots.
  • Avacado (leaves)
    Contains persin, which some individuals can be allergic to.
  • Azalea
    Ingestion can lead to abdominal discomfort, cramps, and even heart-related complications.
  • Bird of Paradise
    The leaves can contain hydrocyanic acid and the seeds contain toxic tannins.
  • Bleeding Heart
    Contains alkaloid toxins. Heart-shaped, red and white flowers may look edible to young children.
  • Boston Ivy
    The berries are moderately toxic but bitter in taste.
  • Buttercups
    Contains Protoanemonin. However, they are so foul-tasting, poisoning is unlikely.
  • Caladium
    Contains Asparagine and Calcium oxalate crystals. All parts of Caladium are poisonous if eaten in large quantities.
  • Calla Lily (Not to be confused with Canna lily)
    Ingestion can lead to diarrhea, intense burning sensations, stomach cramps, swelling to the lips, tongue, and throat.
  • Carnation
  • Castor-Oil plant
  • Chinese Lantern Plant
  • Clematis
  • Cotoneaster
  • Crocus, Autumn
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodil
  • Daisy (Chrysanthemum)
  • Daphne
  • Delphinium
  • Elderberry (Green parts)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Euonymus
  • Foxglove
  • Gladiola
  • Grape Hyacinth
  • Hemlock (All parts of this plant are extremely poisonous!)
  • Holly
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris
  • Ivy
  • Jasmine
  • Laburnum
  • Lantana Camara
  • Larkspur
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Lobelia
  • Lupin
  • Mistletoe
  • Monkshood (Extremely poisonous!)
  • Morning Glory
  • Mountain laurel
  • Narcissus
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Pansy (seeds)
  • Peony
  • Periwinkle (Vinca)
  • Poppy
  • Potato (Leaves and stems)
  • Privet
  • Ranunculus
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb (Leaves are very poisonous)
  • Spider Plant
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Sweet Pea
  • Sweet William
  • Tobacco
  • Tomato (Leaves, stems and green fruit)
  • Umbrella Plant
  • Virginia Creeper
  • Wisteria (forms poisonous pods that look like runner beans)
  • Yew

Babies and Children with Pica and Autism

I recently received a request for a list of non-toxic plants. It came from a friend of mine who’s son has a rare disorder called pica. Pica results in an unnatural desire to eat non-nutritional substances such as soil, sand, grass and of course anything growing in the garden.

My eldest son, Samuel was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. Quite commonly for children with autism, he will readily eat anything if not supervised. A constant worry to us. To a large degree, this has shaped our own choices in what we plant in our own back garden.

Of course, this problem is not limited to the parents of children with pica or autism. Babies will happily see your back garden as a finger buffet. There are so many common garden plants that could cause sickness and even death if consumed.

Important advice

Although I have tried to research every plant on this list, this must still be taken as an “opinion”. Please thoroughly research each plant to ensure that toxicity levels are at an appropriate level for your children. Remember, eating any plant to excess, may result in undesired consequences. Try ‘Googling’: plant-name toxic humans.

Further reading about non-toxic plants

Summary Article Name Non-toxic plants for baby & pica friendly gardening Description A healthy list of non-toxic, flowering plants to grow in your garden or in your home. Keep your babies and children safe this summer. Author James Middleton Publisher Name The Allotment Garden Tags:Family Garden, Gardening for children, Healthy Gardener

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