If you’ve been reading A Beautiful Mess for awhile, you know that we LOVE our posts about houseplants. We love shopping for them, we love arranging them, and we love living with plants! After my husband and I bought our new house, I immediately began mentally decorating our daughter’s room when it hit me: Um, what if our plants are poisonous? It turns out that many of them were (I’m looking at you, beloved fiddle-leaf figs) and that a lot of the non-toxic ones just looked kind of boring. So I started doing a little research on interesting-looking house plants that are non-toxic to children, cats, and dogs, and I thought I’d share my favorite seven non-toxic houseplants with you guys today.
1. Baby Rubber Plant (also called peperomia)
I love this plant for its thick, waxy leaves! It’s technically a succulent but it looks a little different from most succulents. The baby rubber plant just needs some bright, indirect sunlight, and occasional watering, and it’s good to go!
2. Donkey’s Tail (also called burro’s tail)
I was so glad to find at least one typical succulent on the non-toxic lists. These are great, as they require little water, and they’re pretty forgiving if you forget to water them! They do need more sunlight, though, so they’re best by a window.
There are MANY varieties of ferns: some are highly toxic (some are even carcinogenic), and a few are not, such as the Boston fern. Be sure you check the labels, and don’t go just by appearance, as they all look incredibly similar! Boston ferns need lots of watering but don’t do very well in direct sunlight, so they make great houseplants if you can remember to keep them watered.
4. Fittonia (also called nerve plant or mosaic plant)
These require conditions much like our boston fern—indirect sunlight and a lot of water!
5. Spider Plant (also called airplane plant)
The spider plant needs moderate light, but the good news with this one is that it needs to dry out between waterings! Forgetful people of the world, rejoice with me.
6. Hoya (this variety is also called Hindu rope, Krinkle Kurl, or wax plant)
I love how weird this plant looks. It grows the best in bright, indirect light, and you don’t have to water it very much at all.
7. Prayer Plant (also called rabbit’s tracks)
This one is my absolute favorite. It’s low maintenance, and I can’t stop looking at it—it looks so interesting! It likes a lower-light environment, and you have to keep its soil moist (but not too soggy), but it’s really a beautiful thing to have around.
If you aren’t sure what some of your houseplants are and you’d like to check on them, take some photos of them on your phone and visit your local nursery! They’ll be able to help and answer questions about your plants. I think it’s really important to at least know the names of your plants if you’re worried about your kids or your pets munching on them on the sly, right?
There are plenty more non-toxic plants out there if you are interested! I’m definitely not an expert on plant toxicity, so please do the research if you are concerned. Here is a good resource for what plants are toxic and non-toxic for children, and here is a list for dogs and cats (and horses, if you happen to have a horse that lives in your house). And of course, let’s just try and avoid eating houseplants in the first place. 😉 Let me know if you have any tips as well! xo. Sarah
Credits // Author and Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Lula (B&W) from the Signature Collection (with the “monochromes” layer turned off).
I worked in horticulture for several years and I can tell you with confidence that rubber plants are extremely toxic. They are called rubber plants because they produce a latex sap that leaks with any puncture or tear. Latex is the toxin found in the famous Christmas time poinsettias, which all pet owners should know is absolutely dangerous to anybody or any pet ingesting or just coming in contact with the latex. It saddens me that this article has been up for six years and this has not once been addressed or edited. How many people have seen this article and believed all of it ? I was only here to confirm my knowledge that a prayer plant is non toxic to rabbits should they get a small nibble. Thank you for your time and I urge you to please make changes to your article. I’m not trying to spam you, I’m trying to make sure this doesn’t continue to provide misinformation to the public.
I think in this case the common name is misleading
Because when I looked up the Latin name, it is listed as non-toxic.
This list contains a type of peperomia with the name Baby Rubber Plant. This is not the same as the Rubber Plants which you are referring to and correctly state are toxic. Peperomias, however, are not toxic though and come in an astounding variety of foliage types with the most unusual flowers. Definitely worth exploring if you are a plant lover with beloved pets.
Really glad you wrote this article. After having a Prayer Plant on my coffee table for 6 months, today is the day my golden retriever decided to eat it! Phewwww.
I like the baby rubber plant, but looking it up I found it listed as poisonous. ?! I went to my nursery and got a prayer plant, marantha is the scientific name. It’s gorgeous!
I think you may have misread the link you posted because it says non-toxic at the bottom.
So I have a bunny rabbit that runs loose in my small apartment… Other than the Spider Plant. What good looking plants are there? Plus low lighting. . . Its a nightmare. And I love plants.
Loving those swan planters (that’s my maiden name). My cat ate my spider plant until there was nothing left but the stem. She acted like it was catnip!!
I have a Rubber Tree Plant in my home. Is it only the Baby one that is non toxic or are they the same thing?
When my husband was a baby his mom caught him eating the philodendron in their living room:/
Great idea for a post – it’d be so awful if a small child ingested bits of house plant! I especially love the burro’s tail succulent – so pretty, especially in that sweet swan pot. And succulents are hard to kill, so the burro’s tail is a double win 🙂
Tamsin xx | A Certain Adventure
Seriously reading my mind- I’ve been on the Home Depot/should I just buy a fake- HUNT for weeks. I gotta special kitty cat that needs some greenery around that won’t hurt him. Thank you!
Love all these plants! Have a question – do you know if any of these plants are air-purifying? If not, can you recommend any? We are looking for a plant for our apt that is air purifying and does need a lot of light…watering is less important. Thanks!
Hah! I doubt any of these plants taste that good! 😉 But yes, you can eat all of these without any level of poisoning if you really wanted to. -Sarah
Thank you Laura! xo – Sarah
I usually put a layer of pebbles at the bottom of my planters to help separate the soil and roots from the moisture a little bit, and I think that helps. I also buy moisture control potting soil that helps it from drying out AND helps it from staying too wet. Hope that helps! -Sarah
Thank you. I’d never thought of this either. My big brother is special needs, schizophrenic, and my mom takes care of him. he’s really into plants, but sometimes he just gets stuff into his head that he only eats everything from the garden (but anything, like leaves, which can be poisonous) or “cleansing” himself by eating random greenery or something like that. He really thinks the earth could never hurt him and doesn’t believe us sometimes, and a lot of his delusions involve eating or not eating things. My mom likes house plants, I never thought he might eat some but I am going to pass this along, i’m so grateful for it!
Somehow, it never donned on me that houseplants would be poisonous so thanks so much for this!! On that note, I’m officially in love with the prayer plant and must get one. Also, had Fittonia a few months ago and basically just killed it, so also working on my plant skills haha
xx Sarah | Loser Girl Wins
I love you post and plants too. Thanks for sharing!
Hey ladies! Many of these plants appear to be in (very cute, but still) containers that probably don’t have holes on the bottom. I’ve never found that my houseplants thrive without drainage. Do yours?
lovely! the prayer plant is perfect for my dark little cottage! and for my toddler who wants to water the plants several times a day lol!
So are these non-toxic enough to put around the rim of a glass, then?
Thanks Sarah, such a gorgeous post. I absolutely love the prayer plant, I love the purple!! Did you know at night, the leaves stand up, like they’re praying? So lush! :)x