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Every living space offers plenty of opportunities to get creative with plants and it is not just the visual aspect.
Myriad studies have shown that there are psychological benefits to having plants in indoor spaces and some of them are lowering stress levels, boosting mental wellbeing, improving mood, helping us to be more productive, and instilling a more calming atmosphere. Some plants even help to purify the air by filtering harmful pollutants.
It is even better if the indoor plants you select are non-toxic, so they pose no risk to children and pets.
Here are 30 non-toxic house plants, some of which help to purify the air, others add an extra sensory dimension and a fragrant welcome, both contributing to mindfulness, senses, and wellbeing.
Related: Fast-growing indoor plants
1. Bamboo Palm
This species originates from the forests of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has smooth green trunks with prominent gray leaf scars, bluish-green leaves with narrow leaflets along the trunks. Wispy leaves make it a graceful plant. It can reach the height of 1-3 m in a greenhouse and bear shiny, black fruit.
Care tip: Low to medium light, shady, and moist conditions with winter temperature above 13 degrees C. Use loam-based soil for good drainage.
Common issues: Leaves will turn black in winter if it is too cold and drafty. Leaves will become dull and pale green in too bright light. Leaflets will curl upward if it is too dry. Prone to mealybugs.
2. Spider Plant
Spider plants make exquisite displays in a hanging planter. They are ideal for beginners as they are low-maintenance plants.
Care tip: Maintain room temperatures at 7-24 degrees C, find a bright location, don’t let the soil become soggy, and repot every spring.
Common issues: Dry air, underfeeding, or underwatering make leaf tips brown, yellow leaves are a sign of root rot or the need for repotting and leaves can become pale due to harsh sunlight.
3. Boston Fern
Boston Fern is a graceful plant that looks best in a hanging planter. It has broad and arching leaves that will hang down from the container.
Care tip: This fern favors adequate moisture and humidity, indirect light, moist compost, and room temperature at above 10 degrees C. A tray of pebbles is a great way to increase humidity.
Common issues: Pale fronds are a sign of insufficient light or underfeeding, brown fronds in the case of air that’s too dry or insufficient water.
4. Cast Iron Plant
Cast Iron Plant looks dazzling in a decorative pot with its long and narrow deep green leaves. It has similar care needs as Peace Lily, though the latter is toxic.
Care tip: Wipe the leaves frequently and repot only if absolutely necessary. Don’t let it sit in wet soil.
Common issues: Brown leaf tips due to lack of humidity or hard water. Brown patches can appear due to leaf scorch.
5. Kentia Palm
Native to Australia, this is a tall plant that helps to purify indoor air by eliminating formaldehyde, ammonia, and carbon monoxide. It is ideal for a larger, white pot and a plain backdrop in homes and offices. The leaves are long, glossy, and green.
Care tip: Indirect light, weekly misting, and normal room temperature. Tolerant of some neglect.
Common issues: Prone to mealybugs and spider mites.
6. African Violet
This plant has lanceolate deep green glossy leaves with obvious venation. The stems are long and bare, bearing orange-white flowers. As such, it makes an amazing display in a tall pot. It blossoms continually.
Care tip: East or west window, 15-18 degrees C and rich and peaty potting soil with compost.
Common issues: Don’t splash water on the leaves in which case they can mottle. Do not mist the plant. Watering too frequently leads to leaf and flower rot.
Also called radiator plant, this is a species that is usually succulent and varied in form with diverse and attractive streaks, stripes, and variegation. It looks stunning if planted in unison with other peperomias.
Care tip: Keep the soil moderately moist, maintain the room temperature at above 10 degrees C, provide humusy potting soil.
Common issues: Drought can cause leaf drop.
8. Hens and Chicks
This is a species of Echeveria that produces tiny orange or red flowers on tall and usually bare stems. Leaves appear in rosettes that are flat and green.
Care tip: Maintain room temperatures at 10-24 degrees C, provide ample bright light and some direct light, feed once a month.
Common issues: Pale or brown patches are a sign of sunburn or rot from watering the leaves, prone to mealybugs and weevils.
9. Christmas Cactus
Christmas cactus is a forgiving plant that is resilient before showing any signs of discomfort. It can last a really long time, blooming during winter, when you most need flowers. They are incredibly large, profuse and the color range is splendid and immense. “Orange Flame” is one of the brightest.
Care tip: East or west sun exposure, temperatures above 10 degrees C and sandy potting soil.
Common issues: It can burn in too much light in summer, so avoid south exposure.
10. Hoya Carnosa
Hoya species are climbing evergreen plants with usually pink or white fragrant star-like flowers. Leaves are usually fleshy, waxy and glossy, which is also the case with Hoya carnosa. It will grow to 2-3 m in length if you give it support around which to twine.
Care tip: It favors relatively and continually warm conditions without draughts, daily spraying, feeding carefully, and repotting every three years in late winter.
Common issues: Hoyas can develop black leaves or drop them in the case of soil that is water-logged and doesn’t drain well.
11. Chinese Money Plant
This is an immensely popular low-maintenance houseplant that’s ideal for beginners and non-toxic to cats, dogs and humans. The leaves are oval, glossy, and green with long bare stems. It makes a lovely display in a pot.
Care tip: Ample indirect light, regular moisture and humidity, well-draining mix with a bit of perlite – these are the basic requirements for this plant.
12. Air Plants
Air plants grow attached to other plants in the wild, so grow them without compost at home, such as nested in a glass globe. They make extremely intriguing displays.
Care tip: Air plants like humidity so let them pay an occasional visit to the bathroom. Provide bright, indirect light. Soak the plant for 30 minutes in distilled, filtered or rainwater. Shake it lightly and let it dry upside down for 4 hours.
Common issues: Soft brown areas are an indication of accumulated water between the leaves, leading to rot. If the plant is curly or has crispy tips, it needs water.
Basil is a non-toxic herb. It scents the air and flavors dishes. Besides, it is an easy-care windowsill plant. Basil is easy to start from seed and flower heads must be pinched off to produce leaves that are aromatic and flavorful.
Care tip: This herb favors full sunlight for 5 hours a day, an average room temperature of 17 degrees C, average humidity, and a mix made of soil, sand, leaf mold, and bonemeal.
14. Lipstick Plants
Flowers of Lipstick Plants look like lipsticks that poke out of the tubes, hence their evocative name. Some have cherry-red flowers and others have orange ones. The foliage has a cascading growing habit, so it is ideal for a hanging basket.
Care tip: Easter or western sun exposure to bright, indirect light. Soilless mix is ideal.
Common issue: Cold water causes leaf spot.
15. Moth Orchid
In the Orchid genus, not only are Moth Orchids the easiest to grow but they are also non-toxic. Besides, you will enjoy their flowers for many weeks.
Care tip: Maintain room temperature at above 18 degrees C, an east-facing window is ideal, water it by dripping and draining once a week in the summer months and every 2 weeks in the winter.
Common issues: Bud drop due to underwatering, low humidity or temperature fluctuation. Prone to scale insects and mealybugs.
16. Polka Dot Plant
Polka dot plant is grown for its veined foliage that steals the limelight in a decorative square pot or a terrarium.
Care tip: Since it favors warmth, maintain the room temperature at above 15 degrees C. It likes bright light and tepid, warm water. Stand it on a pebble-filled tray to ensure sufficient humidity.
Common issues: Prone to aphids on the leaf undersides, brown tips due to low humidity, and yellow leaves due to overwatering.
Bromeliads are tropical plants with foliage that grows in a basal rosette and small flowers emerging from the center of the leaves. Some nice ones are Aechmeas, Neoregelias, and Cryptanthus spp.
Care tip: They appreciate elevated humidity, fast-draining, soilless mix and weekly watering.
Common issues: Overwatering leads to stem rot. Prone to bacterial and fungal diseases.
18. Baby’s Tears
There are various forms with variegated or golden leaves that spread and spill over the pot.
Care tip: It favors cooler temperatures, indirect light and higher humidity, so it is great for terrariums, though it can spread enormously.
Common issues: Brown foliage and wilting in case of underwatering or dry and hot air.
19. Zebra Plant
Zebra Plant is often sold as a flower. It has large leaves with very prominent margins in cream. Occasionally, it bears yellow flowers. It is not toxic to pets or humans but can cause skin irritation in some people with allergies.
Care tip: Keep the temperature above 15 degrees C in winter. Overwatering causes leaf drop.
Common issues: Leaf drop due to temperature fluctuation or a dark spot. Prone to scale insects and red spider mites.
20. Areca Palm
A healthy areca palm has rich, pale green fronds and yellow stems. It can reach the size of 7 meters in its natural habitat and it is sold as a houseplant when around 70 cm.
Care tip: Ample light and some shade, winter minimum of 10 degrees C, watering three times a week in summer and weekly feeding in spring and summer.
Common issues: If leaves dry out from tips, the air is too hot and dry. Red spider mites and scale insects can visit the plant occasionally, leaving round spots and webs on the leaves.
21. Prayer Plant
Prayer plant is a small and compact plant with elliptic green leaves that fold at night like human hands in prayer, hence the name.
Care tip: A bathroom is ideal for humidity. Provide partial shade or bright light. Keep the soil moist from spring to autumn, ideally using distilled, filtered, or rainwater since the plant is sensitive to chemicals in tap water.
Common issues: Droopy leaves are a sign of overwatering, cold or draughts and brown edges due to dry air or overfeeding.
22. Parlor Palm
An easy-to-grow palm, quite compact and reaching about 1m in height. It brings an air of elegance to any home.
Care tip: Temperature between 18 and 24 degrees C and bright light. Clean the leaves regularly and stand the plant in a tepid shower or summer rain.
Common issues: If the air is too dry or cold, leaf tips might go brown. A lack of shine on the leaves is caused by low humidity levels. Prone to scale insects and red spider mites.
Native to Central and South America, this genus is prized for its highly decorative foliage. Upright leaves are usually large and uniquely variegated in tones of green, white, purple and pink.
Flowers are a bit shy, hiding beneath the foliage. Calatheas are ideal for outdoor landscaping in shaded areas.
Care tip: They thrive in low light levels, but they need humus-rich, moist and well-drained soil. Propagate by division or rhizomes.
Common issues: Leaves often harbor mealybugs, aphids and spider mites.
Camellia is a shrub with amazing foliage and vivid flowers in white, pink and red that last for a long time and it is ideal for containers.
Care tip: Water regularly and fertilize once a month during the growing season. Keep in partial shade. Prune after the flowering period.
Common issues: Root rot is the main issue with camellias as a result of overwatering and poor quality of the soil.
25. Donkey’s Tail
This is a widely cultivated low-maintenance evergreen succulent with tiny, fleshy, pale green leaves. It blooms in late summer with red, yellow and white flowers.
Care tip: It requires loam-based, sandy soil that’s mildly acidic, bright light to full sun, and good airflow. They are forgiving plants and tolerant of some neglect, so ideal for beginners.
Common issues: It isn’t subject to diseases if the conditions are kept hygienic. However, aphids may appear.
26. Dwarf Fan Palm
This is a palm that can reach only 1 meter in height. The leaves look like green, pointed needles. It is ideal for a pot.
Care tip: Bright light, monthly feeding and watering freely in summer will make this palm happy. Stand it on a tray of pebbles for extra humidity.
Common issues: Prone to scale insects, mealybugs and red spider mites. Leaves may go brown if you have overwatered the plant, so check the roots.
27. Friendship Plant
Here is another species that’s safe for pets. Friendship Plant is a striking perennial plant ideal for a terrarium because of high humidity. It is rather small and compact, with intriguing leaf margins.
Care tip: Keep it in a room not cooler than 12 degrees C, bright light, moist soil and good drainage. Keep the leaves free of dust.
Common issues: Powdery patches on the leaves appear due to high humidity, so remove the affected leaves immediately.
Unlike Aloe vera, this plant isn’t poisonous to pets. It is a spiky succulent with the same needs as Aloe vera. Its leaves may turn red in direct sun.
Care tip: Maintain room temperature between 10 and 24 degrees C, place it in a bright spot, feed once in spring and once in summer. Add perlite or grit to the mix. Only repot if the plant outgrows the current pot.
Common issues: Sunken, wrinkled leaves due to underwatering, yellow leaves due to overwatering or insufficient light.
29. Lady Palm
Another elegant variety, Lady Palm grows to be a small plant with arched fronds. It looks amazing in an orange-white pot, home or office.
Care tip: It is tolerant of low light, but it is best to provide bright light. Regular room temperature, water freely in summer, feed monthly from spring to late summer.
Common issues: Prone to scale insects, mealybugs, and red spider mites on the foliage. Brown leaf tips due to dry air or underwatering. Brown spots are an indication of overwatering.
30. Baby Rubber Plant
Baby rubber plant is an amazing non-toxic substitute for toxic Ficus benjamina or elastica. Its leaves are splashed with gold, gray or cream.
Care tip: Maintain winter temperature at 10 degrees C, find a partially shaded spot, water with tepid water and feed monthly in spring and summer.
Common issues: Leaf drop is caused by a lack of water or cold climate. Swelling under the leaves appears because of too much watering in winter.
A Word of Caution
- Devil’s ivy
- Peace Lily
- Angel’s wings
- Dumb Cane
- Ficus Benjamina
Irritations are caused by milky sap and allergens, which can cause burning and blistering of the skin, allergic reactions, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, eating and others.
- Tell children not to play with plants
- Use gloves when handling plants
- Keep pets away from plants by placing them on a shelf
- Check plant labels for toxicity
What to do if ingested:
- Do not panic
- Seek medical assistance at the Emergency department for kids and veterinary assistance for animals
- Take along plant samples of the plant in question
Frequently Asked Questions
Are spider plants toxic to dogs?
No, spider plants are non-poisonous house plants. Rather, they purify the air by removing chemicals such as formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene (NASA). So you have every reason to pick this one, for a safe environment and clean air.
What house plants are toxic to dogs?
Some of the house plants that are toxic to dogs are Aloe vera, Alocasia, Desert Rose, Sago Palm, Daffodil, Dracaena, Ivy, Dumb Cane, Pothos, ZZ Plant and Asparagus Fern. They can cause symptoms such as vomiting, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and general weakness. Give your dog hydrogen peroxide and take it to the vet.
Is Aloe vera toxic to pets?
Yes, Aloe vera is toxic to both cats and dogs. However, it helps to purify the air and Aloe gel is used in skincare, so if you decide to keep it, make sure your pets and children can’t reach it.
What indoor plants are nontoxic to cats?
Nontoxic house plants for cats are Baby’s Tears, Friendship Plant, Calathea, Prayer Plant, Bromeliads and other non-toxic plants mentioned in this article.
Is Kalanchoe toxic?
Though very popular, Kalanchoe plant species contain cardiac glycosides that are poisonous to animals and humans. Keep it out of the reach of pets and kids.
When selecting plants for indoor cultivation, the plant’s attractiveness and its care needs are not the only necessary criteria to consider. Toxicity is another relevant factor if you have children or pets.
Hopefully, this list has helped you make a sound decision as regards safe house plants. However, in case you have laid eyes on a poisonous species, you can keep it at a safe distance from kids and animals.
Ensure that pets can’t reach it and that your children know they aren’t allowed to play with plants. If they ingest the plant, seek medical assistance immediately.