Safe plants for children

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Making your garden safe for children

Gardens are generally safe and interesting places, and children often love spending time in them. But gardens aren’t always designed with children in mind.

Supervising your child is the best way to avoid danger in the garden or anywhere else, but this isn’t always possible. This means it’s very important to make the garden safe.

You can do this by avoiding growing poisonous plants and dangerous plants. Fence off or remove any suspect plants until your child is old enough to learn not to eat strange plants (usually at around the age of three years).

Highly poisonous plants: plants to destroy or remove

Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis)
This is a common self-sown weed with toxic seeds, flowers and leaves. Chewing and swallowing a few seeds can cause severe nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

Coral tree (Erythrina genus)
The leaves, bark and seeds are poisonous. The seeds are particularly toxic for children and can cause shortness of breath, cyanosis (when the skin gets a blue tint because there’s not enough oxygen in the blood), weakness and light-headedness.

Common or pink oleander (Nerium oleander) and yellow oleander (Thevetia peruviana)
Every part of these shrubs, including the seeds, is poisonous. Symptoms include staggering, vomiting, diarrhoea, irregular heart action, dilated pupils and coma leading to death.

Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)
The attractive round purple/black berries on this plant are highly toxic. Eating the berries can cause drowsiness, facial flushing, fever, vomiting, confusion and hallucinations.

Golden dewdrop (Duranta erecta)
This is a common self-sown weed with pretty but poisonous leaves and berries. Eating these parts of the plant can cause nausea or vomiting, drowsiness, convulsions, fast heart rate, fever and in some cases death. This ornamental plant is also known as sky flower.

Rhus or wax tree (Toxicodendron succedaneum)
Also known as poison ivy, this plant can trigger strong allergic reactions in many people, causing rashes, redness, itchiness and blisters over the course of a week or longer. Avoid contact, even contact with clothing or tools, or exposure to sawdust or ash from the plant. Wear protective clothing when removing the plant.

White cedar tree (Melia azedarach)
This is a native tree. Eating the fruits can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, confusion, coma and seizures.

If you or someone in your care might have been exposed to a poisonous plant, immediately call the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 for advice – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Australia wide. If you need to go to hospital, try to take a piece of the plant with you for identification purposes.

Dangerous plants to avoid

Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia genus)
The flowers, seeds and nectar are very poisonous.

Arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
All parts of the plant can cause irritation and pain in the mouth when chewed.

Belladonna lily, naked lady (Amaryllis belladonna)
The sap and bulb are especially toxic to children.

Cacti and other succulents (fleshy plants)
Children can cut themselves or injure their eyes on the spikes.

Chillies
If your child puts a chilli in her mouth or touches one then rubs her eyes, it could be uncomfortable or even painful.

Daphne
All parts of this popular ornamental shrub are poisonous, especially the attractive berries.

Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia genus)
Eating this plant can irritate the mouth and cause swelling, although it won’t do any permanent damage.

Euphorbia genus
The sap from these common plants can cause severe pain and injury to the eyes. Also known as spurge and milkweed, this genus includes Poinsettia, a popular Christmas plant.

Hemlock (poison parsley) and water hemlock (cowbane)
These are commonly found toxic plants.

Lantana
All parts of this flowering shrub, especially the green berries, can cause stomach pains, jaundice and muscle weakness.

Mushrooms and toadstools
Although most of the toxic species – like death caps and the red and white fly agaric – are found in forests and parklands rather than backyards, there are many poisonous species. It’s worth clearing all mushrooms or toadstools from your yard until your child is old enough to know not to touch them.

The plants listed here are some of the most common and most dangerous. To find out more about these and other dangerous plants, visit the Queensland Poisons Information Centre.

Plants to treat with caution

Bulbs
Bulbs can be poisonous. These include agapanthus, autumn crocus, clivia, daffodil, hippeastrum, hyacinth, lily of the valley, tulips and some irises.

Cycads
The bright yellow and red seeds are used in bush tucker, but only after the toxins have been leached out. They’re poisonous if you eat them fresh from the branch.

Grevilleas (especially ‘Robyn Gordon’ and Robusta)
Some grevillea species can trigger itching, redness and rashes if children have an allergic reaction on contact.

Rhubarb
All parts, especially the leaves, are poisonous (the stems are safe when cooked).

Sticky weed or asthma weed (Parietaria judaica)
This can be associated with asthma attacks and can cause skin allergies.

If you’re unsure whether the plants in your garden are safe, ask your local nursery for advice. You can also get a list of poisonous plants from your nursery or local council.

Safe Indoor Plants for Children

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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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Begonia

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

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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Lilies

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.

15 Children-Safe House Plants For the Nursery

My vision is to have plants in every area of the house. Zane’s nursery is no exception. As a new mom, and plant lover, I am interested in non-toxic plants and I would like to share with you the results of my research.

Zane’s nursery has a north-facing window and so the plants that are usually in there are close to the window. It originally has a mounted orchid and Staghorn fern. For the purposes of this blog I decorated the nursery with almost all the child-safe plants I had. I will provide a list of the plants at the bottom of this post.

The only plant which I do not have the ID is the plant above, which is a type of fern. It has a soft, leathery and fuzzy feel. Although I don’t know the ID (therefore not sure if safe or not), I included it in the post so you, my wonderful readers can help me ID. Either way, you can keep it hanging high above, out of the child’s reach.

I couldn’t find any information on the toxicity of Pachyphytum oviferum (above), so again keep away from reach.

Hope you enjoyed Zane’s momentary plant-filled nursery.

List of children-safe plants in this post

  1. Baby rubber plant (peperomia, not Ficus elastica which is poisonous)
  2. Begonia
  3. Boston fern
  4. Donkey tail
  5. Fittonia
  6. Prayer plants
  7. Rabbit foot fern
  8. Rhipsalis
  9. Spider plant
  10. Staghorn fern
  11. Swedish ivy
  12. Thanksgiving cactus
  13. Airplants
  14. Wandering Jew
  15. Watermelon Peperomia

Sanseveria sp. (mother-in-law’s tongue) almost made this list because I read that although it is poisonous, its toxicity level is very low and will only cause significant unpleasantness if eaten in large quantities. However since the leaves are bitter, it makes it very unpalatable – hence your child will likely stop at one bite :).

This is by no means an exhaustive list of child-safe plants. Refer to this very helpful pdf document by the University of Wisconsin Health for a more comprehensive list of common plants and their toxicity. This document also lists Sanseveria sp as non-toxic.

*I always operate on the assumption that even safe plants can become unsafe if eaten in large quantities. (I doubt any of you will let your infants and toddlers munch on your Swedish ivy for lunch just because it’s ‘safe’ 🙂 ). Please note that this list does not apply to pets. Some plants may be safe for humans but not safe for cats or dogs if ingested.

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