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Dogs, cats or kids? These are the right plants for you

Kids and pets illustration
Some houseplants will harm children and pets, so choose carefully.
(Julia Yellow / For The Times)
1

As adults know, pets and kids have not truly experienced something until they put it in their mouth.

Including the toxic leaves of your beloved heart-shaped philodendron.

That’s right. Many common indoor houseplants, including pothos and dieffenbachia, contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause mouth pain and stomach upset.

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Although it is hard to imagine your pets or kids nibbling on your dumb cane (named for the temporary speechlessness that can occur after tasting its stem), it is worth noting that it can cause “oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing,” according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Before you call poison control, keep in mind that eating toxic houseplants is not considered life-threatening. Still, it’s a good idea to keep them out of reach of small children and pets.

Here is a selection of safe houseplants for pets, according to the ASPCA online database.

Chinese money plant, or Pilea peperomioides
(Lisa Boone / Los Angeles Times )

1. American rubber plant, Peperomia obtusifolia

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2. Areca palm, Dypsis lutescens

3. Blue echeveria, Echeveria glauca

4. Prayer plant, Maranta

5. Chinese money plant, Pilea Peperomioides

6. Panamiga, Pilea involucrata

7. Parlor palm, Chamaedorea elegans

8. Pony tail palm, Beaucarnea recurvata

9. Lipstick plant, Aeschynanthus

10. Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum

Echeveria succulents
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

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The following plants are considered kid-safe according to the California Poison Control System:

1. Dracaena, Goldieana

2. Echeveria

3. Staghorn fern, Platycerium

4. Boston fern, Nephrolepis

5. Corn plant, Dracaena fragrans

6. Nerve plant, Fittonia verschaffeltii

7. Jade plant, Crassula argentea

8. Lipstick plant, Aeschynanthus

9. Chinese money plant, Pilea Peperomioides

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10. Spider plant, Chlorophytum comosum

Watch out for that Monstera deliciosa, Scooter.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

The following plants are considered toxic to dogs, cats and horses, according to the ASPCA:

1. Chinese evergreen, Aglaonema modestum

2. Cordatum, Philodendron oxycardium

3. Corn plant, Dracaena fragrans

4. Cutleaf philodendron, Monstera deliciosa

5. Dieffenbachia

6. Snake plant, Sansevieria trifasciata

7. Hosta, Hosta plantaginea

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8. Ivy arum, Pothos

9 Octopus tree, Brassia actinophylla

10. True aloe, Aloe barbadensis

The following houseplants are considered toxic for kids, according to the California Poison Control System:

1. Aloe vera, Aloe barbadensis

2. Creeping Charlie, Glechoma hederacea

3. Dumb cane, Dieffenbachia

4. Elephant’s ear, Alocasia or Colocasia

5. Golden pothos, Epipremnum aureum

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6. Mother-in-law’s tongue, Dieffenbachia

7. Philodendron

8. Cyclamen

9. Rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis

10. Umbrella palm, Cyperus alternifolius


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Lisa Boone is a design writer for the Los Angeles Times. Since 2003, she has covered home design, gardening, parenting, even youth sports, for the Home section and L.A. at Home. She is a native of Los Angeles.