It's tough because you don't want to paranoid, but at the same time you want to protect your pets.
My two girls are old enough now that they know better not to munch on strange plants. And even when they were younger, I could have communicated which plants were big no no's.
But pets don't quite work this way. Even with their soulful eyes, they're not human. I've discovered that cats in particular are tempted by plants. They tend to chomp on plants and spit them up.
So I'm giving you the rundown of which plants you should avoid when considering what to grow. Some are worse than others....and some are only "somewhat" toxic if you get my drift.
My focus today is mostly on cats and dogs, probably the two most common pets. Not that I don't love horses, but they aren't the best indoor pets. The poop alone!
Although I once worked with a guy in sales who had indoor/outdoor goats that slept on his couch! Use your imagination on that one...
Anyhow, here's what I learned!
Is it likely? No.
Far from it according to my research. For one, begonias are bitter tasting. They act as an immediate irritant to the mouth. Your pet would have to eat a ton of it to cause issues, but again, this is unlikely considering just how bitter it is.
The toxic portions are located in the underground parts (tubers) of the plant and even the toxicity of that is low.
Begonias as super toxic to dogs. If ingested, you'll notice burning of the tongue, lips and mouth. Excessive drooling soon to follow.
But still, we've have had dogs and begonias our whole lives and haven't had a problem. So grow your begonia plants if you want! Besides, begonias are safe for cats!
My research suggests that the info is all over the place. Some experts say it's totally fine while others suggest that even one or two flowers are toxic to pets. Bummer.
But everyone seems to be in consensus that it is not fatal. In cats and dogs it can cause vomiting and diarrhea. And those one or two flowers can bring on stomach upset.
So the biggest issue just might be whether or not your pet might become dehydrated. Not great, but not the end of the world either. Just watch your pet.
The toxic component is Gyposenin. In most cases, your pet will recovery fully in just 4-24 hours, hardly worth a pricey vet visit.
We're not ready to ban baby's breath from our homes just yet. Besides, it's not your typical houseplant and we only get to enjoy them occasionally in a floral arrangement.
But Easter lilies, Tiger, Day, Asiatic and Japanese lilies...run for the hills. Especially in cats. You likely know just how toxic these plants are for your cat.
Just 2-3 petals can do some major harm so if you notice a pet chomping on your lily, bring your cat and the plant to your vet immediately.
In just 36 hours, kidney failure is a serious concern if this plant is consumed by your cat. Unfortunately, we have had cats in the past who have been tempted by lilies for whatever reason.
I love Easter lilies. Truly. But they are totally banned in my home!
Peace lily? Yes, I have one and the cat hasn't given it the time of day. No worries here.
When ingested, this plant can apparently cause vomiting and diarrhea in your cats and dogs. Common signs to watch also include depression, tremors, changes in urine color and anorexia.
If you've seen my pets lately, no one is wasting away here if you know what I mean. I can't ever imagine anorexia being an issue for them no matter how much Aloe Vera they consume.
My pets are not drawn to this indoor plant whatsoever. In the five or so years I've had one on my shelf, the pets don't even give it a second glance.
So for me, the plant lives on.
You know your pets best and if they would be tempted by such a silly and spiky plant.
But if you have a cat, especially a nibbling type of cat, you should seriously consider tossing this indoor plant as it can be fatal for Fluffy.
You see them a ton around the Christmas season and even though I'm drawn to their richly colored blooms, they make me wary.
Cats can poison themselves by chomping on the flowers, stems or leaves of the amaryllis plant. Even the bulb is toxic.
So if you notice your cat nibbling on this plant take him/her to the vet asap. And your vet may have to induce vomiting to rid your pet of the toxins. It all depends on how much your cat has eaten. Very unpleasant!
Common symptoms for your cat include excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and loss of appetite. These same symptoms will affect your dog if they ingest amaryllis, so this plant just isn't for the pet crowd.
Despite their obvious beauty, no amaryllis plants are allowed in our home. They're not worth the risk!
And because there's no cure after they are ingested aside from making your pet puke, we'd advise you to steer clear of this plant altogether if you are a cat owner.
Why have the worry when you leave home that Kitty has been at his/her nibbling schemes again?
If you receive one as a gift, and you very well might during the holidays, at least it makes a wonderful re-gift option!! So much better than those hideous Willow Tree figurines.
It really surprised me that morning glory are toxic to both dogs and cats. I love the morning glory vine and grow a bunch from seed each year. And there's the problem.
Some species are super dangerous when lots of the seeds are ingested by your cat or dog. Yikes.
So if you think your pet has been munching morning glory watch for vomiting and hallucinations. But the hallucinations stem from the eating of the seeds, something I'm not too worried about.
Depending on how much is ingested, the toxic symtoms are typically very mild.
I'm not ready to give up my morning glory plant, especially since I only grow them outside where I can carefully monitor the dog.
My cat is a strictly indoor kitty so no worries at all over him.
Easy to grow, these large leafed plants almost give your landscape an exotic feel. But when a dog munches on a hosta, they can get depression-like symptoms with vomiting and diarrhea.
And I get all depressed just thinking about cleaning up vomit and diarrhea all over my house, especially on the carpet.
Also known as plantain lilies, hostas are just as poisonous to cats (as all lilies are). When a dog ingests saponin from the hostas, it causes his belly to be filled with foam.
At the very least, he'll look miserable with the worst bellyache. You may never guess that it was the hostas that caused such misery in the first place as he mopes around the house.
And you guessed it. Diarrhea and vomit are soon to follow. Yuck!
Will I give up growing hostas? Nope.
They are too easy to grow, look too nice and fill in every gaping hole in my garden and landscape.
Should you? You know your pets best. If you think they'll nibble on them, you probably should uproot the ones you have and give to your friends never adding more to your landscape.
But mine have never been tempted by the hostas so they will live to see another day.
All parts of the rhododendron are poisonous to dogs including the leaves, stems and blooms. And it only takes a very small amount for your pet to get quite sick.
Small dogs are more greatly affected than larger breeds. Between one and three hours after ingestion, you notice your dog showing signs of gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, loss of appetite, weak pulse, acting weak and depressed.
Eating rhododendron is so bad for a dog that it can cause the heart and central nervous system to shut down - coma and even death soon to follow.
And you probably guessed by now that azaleas are in the same family (they even look alike) as rhododendrons and therefore are off limits, too!
We appreciate the beauty of rhododendrons at places likes the local park or even a friends house.
But the severity of ingesting it is so cruel for both cats and dogs that we won't have it growing on our landscape.
This is especially true with a small dog and vet bills are too dang pricey these days.
And yep, cats will get sick from rhododendrons, too. But if you have an inside cat, who cares since rhododendrons aren't really suited for indoors?
If the cat eats the carnation, all the usual suspects could potentially appear such as vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, and excessive drooling.
However, carnations are only considered mildly toxic to cats, nothing in compared with plants like oleander, azaleas, yew, cylamen, caster beans, or sago palm which will truly harm your pet.
We're talking just mild puke here and if you've had cats for many years like we have, you know that cats puke. It's a fact of life.
Same with dogs. Carnations are considered mildly toxic to dogs. So if Fido gets the nibbles, expect desperate looks of sadness from those soulful eyes and a bad tummyache, but not much more.
We're not purging our carnations quite yet. Plants that can cause coma or death? Okay, those have to go.
But mild vomiting and a few sad looks (and that's if they ingest which they probably won't) isn't going to keep us from harboring a few carnations.
However, the leaves and flowers are extremely toxic if ingested and can cause severe vomiting, slow the heart rate and possibly even cause death.
Some sources claim that all parts of the oleander plant are toxic to just about all species including dogs, cats, humans, birds, cattle and horses.
Since we live in Buffalo, NY, we don't worry about growing oleander as it prefers a warmer climate such as Hawaii, Texas or California.
But to keep it short...oleander = death by poisoning. Avoid! It doesn't take much oleander to do much harm to your pet or yourself.
Oleander is on the "bad" list for us.
Even if you live in one of those lovely and luscious climates that allow the beautiful oleander to flourish, we don't think you'd want it in your yard or landscape. It's not worth the risk!
In fact, our research indicates that even the water in the vase your milkweed is in poses a threat.
Yikes. And lots of bad symptoms are likely to occur including....nausea, vomiting, abnormal heart rate, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, drooling, collapse, and death. You're looking at moderate to severe poisoning. I'll pass.
For us, it's right up there with oleander and foxglove.
Milkweed is tricky for us. We love our pets, but we love the butterflies, too.
What to do?
Strike a compromise. We planted ours in the very back of the yard where our pets aren't allowed.
The best of both worlds.