Are Artificial Plants Toxic to Children and Pets?
Home décor is never truly complete until you add a splash of green with a few indoor plants. While real houseplants will provide you with this pop of colour, as well as cleaner air around your home, you may be surprised to learn that not only are many houseplants difficult to care for, but most species of houseplants are toxic to children and pets. Many of these are likely to only cause some irritation or sickness, but there is a handful that could lead to organ failure and potentially death, particularly in pets.
Artificial plants are the perfect way to bring colour and serenity into your home without the fear of a potentially life-threatening toxic substance. Better still, they require no maintenance, and you never have to deal with plant deaths! Of course, you may also be wondering what artificial plants are made out of and what risk they pose to your children and pets. Read on to learn everything you need to know about the toxicity of artificial plants.
What are artificial plants made out of?
Artificial plants originate from China many centuries ago, when they discovered that they could obtain silk from silkworms. They used this silk to produce beautiful artificial flowers, crafting extravagant flower arrangements that were displayed in homes of the wealthy.
After the Chinese began trading this silk and their creations with the major powers in Europe during the 12th century, other countries began to follow suit, producing their own versions of these artificial flowers to sell, first Italy, then France, and then England, although none quite lived up to the standard of the Chinese originals.
Modern “silk flowers” and artificial plants are no longer made from actual silk, except the more expensive on the market. The majority of artificial plants are now made from plastics, some with metal wire or polyester added in, which is a much more durable material that can stand the tests of time.
Plastic can be easily moulded to look just like the real thing, and some of the highest quality artificial plants even feel like the real thing.
Are artificial plants toxic to children?
One of the major advantages of artificial plants is that they are not toxic to children. Real plants that are toxic may not be such a problem if kept up high, out of reach of inquisitive children, but if you want to fill some empty space with a potted plant on the floor, real houseplants could pose a dangerous problem.
To ensure that your child is protected from toxic plants you should opt for an artificial plant. Eliminate the toxicity and you eliminate the threat.
Are artificial plants toxic to pets?
Artificial plants are also the safest option for your pets. Any part of a living, toxic plant can be poisonous to your pet, including soil, dropped leaves, and excess water, and if any part is ingested it could mean a very expensive trip to the vet that could have been avoided.
You don’t have to worry about artificial plants dropping their leaves (which are non-toxic anyway), they don’t need to be watered, and there is no soil involved so they really are the best option for any home for pets that like to explore with their mouths!
Which real houseplants are the most poisonous to pets and children?
There are a number of popular, real houseplants that are poisonous to pets and children, whether it be their leaves, fruits, blooms, roots, or sap, but there are some that are a lot more harmful than others. If you have children or pets, the houseplants you should completely avoid are:
- Arrowhead (Syngonium podophyllum)
Although a very attractive plant and easy to look after, arrowhead plants are actually mildly toxic to both humans and pets. Even if put out of reach you need to make sure to regularly check for leaves on the floor as this plant often sheds its leaves to make way for regrowth.
- Caladium (Elephant Ear)
Caladium has wonderfully large leaves shaped like elephants’ ears, hence its alternative name, but they are toxic to both children and pets due to calcium oxalates. If ingested, any part of this plant can cause problems in the mouth and throat, disrupt breathing and swallowing, as well as vomiting and drooling in pets.
- Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
Dieffenbachia, or Dumb Cane, is moderately toxic to both children and pets as, like Caladium, it contains calcium oxalates causing mouth pain, drooling, and throat problems. The alternative name actually refers to the fact that, if ingested, can render someone speechless or ‘dumbstruck’.
- Ivy (Hedera helix)
Ivy, sometimes known as ‘English Ivy’ is mildly toxic to children and slightly more toxic to pets. The liquid inside the leaves can cause severe irritation to the skin and if ingested by humans it can cause problems in the mouth and throat, fever, and convulsions, although a large amount usually needs to be ingested for this to happen. In pets, ingestion can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, difficulty breathing, and weakness. You can find our artificial ivy here.
Lilies are beautiful plants, however, although not all, many of which are moderately toxic to both humans and pets. Depending on the species of lily they will cause different symptoms if ingested although it is worth noting that cats are more affected by the toxicity of this plant than dogs, so it’s definitely a no-go for cat lovers.
- Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Oleander might look pretty but it is one of the most deadly houseplants and should be totally avoided if you have children or pets in your home. The toxins within Oleander affect major parts of the body including the digestive and nervous systems, circulation, and eyes. If ingested, symptoms include arrhythmia, dizziness and tremors, as well as vomiting in pets.
- Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)
Despite not being a true lily, the Peace Lily is also toxic to both children and pets. Also containing calcium oxalates, ingestion of this houseplant can lead to burning in the mouth and throat, difficulties in swallowing, diarrhoea, and vomiting in both humans and pets.
Philodendron plants are one of the most common houseplants, however, due to calcium oxalate, they are actually mildly toxic to children and more seriously toxic to pets. If a human ingests this plant, it generally causes mild symptoms such as swelling in the mouth and digestive system and reactions on the skin. On the other hand, if ingested by a pet it can cause seizures, swelling, and general pain.
- Pothos (Devil’s Ivy)
Pothos, or Devil’s Ivy, is particularly efficient at purifying the air, but it is toxic to humans and pets if ingested. Symptoms in humans include burning sensation in the mouth, irritation to the skin, swelling in the mouth and throat, diarrhoea and vomiting. In pets, symptoms include swelling in the mouth, drooling, difficulty swallowing and breathing, and upset stomach, and in the most severe cases death.
- Snake Plant
Snake Plant is a popular floor houseplant with patterned upright leaf spikes, and although only mildly toxic to children, it can cause more serious symptoms in pets if ingested such as pain, diarrhoea, and vomiting. You can find our artificial snake plants here.
With the popularity of artificial plants increasing many of these toxic houseplants can be found as an artificial version, so if you had your heart set on one of these plants for your home with children or pets, you can still get the look you want, just with a safe, non-toxic artificial alternative.
Will my pets chew my artificial houseplants?
There is no particular reason why your pets should be interested in chewing your artificial houseplants (unless they are especially naughty!) as they are just like any other piece of décor in your home.
If your pet does take a little nibble, you do not need to worry about them coming to any harm, and it is likely that they will realise it doesn’t taste good and has no entertainment value so will leave it alone from then on.
The best thing to do if you have a dog that likes to chew or a teething puppy is to make sure they have plenty of “their own” shoes, toys, and other things to chew so they don’t feel the need to bite down on your plants. If they’re really determined, move your plants up high to protect them until your pup is through their chewing phase.
Are there eco-friendly fake plants?
Fake plants can be seen as eco-friendly for the fact that they don’t require water and will last for many years. However, there is an ongoing issue regarding the environmental impacts of plastics, which is why artificial plants may be seen to be less eco-friendly than purchasing real ones.
When not disposed of properly, plastics can have a detrimental effect on the environment, especially within our water ecosystems. Nonetheless, when used and disposed of properly, i.e. long-lasting as opposed to one-use, plastics are important for our way of life, and when you think about the pleasure and well-being they provide when made into artificial plants there can be such things as ‘good plastics’.
To ensure that fake plants can be eco-friendly, you need to make sure that if you want to change up the artificial houseplants in your home, you don’t simply throw them away but give them to a friend or charity shop so that they can continue to be enjoyed. Don’t forget that artificial plants can be stored so you never need to throw them away!
Here at Artificial Eden, we're very consious of our impact on the environment. Thats why for every order, we give back to our planet, by planting one real tree and donating towards projects that reduce CO2.
Why should I buy artificial plants?
If you have a specific plant in mind for your space but find that it is toxic to children or pets, it is very likely that you will be able to find the same plant made from artificial materials that are safe no matter where it is placed in your home. Artificial plants also allow you to avoid any concerns you have about them causing allergies for you, your pets, and your children.
Artificial plants give you the opportunity to create a feeling of calm without the mess of fallen leaves and misplaced soil and without the worry about keeping plants alive.
Just be aware that some of the cheapest fake plants available may have toxic chemicals in their plastics, so it is best to stick to mid- or high-range artificial plants. All the artificial plants in our range have extremely low toxicity so you can buy from us knowing that if your child or pet chews on a leaf, the only thing getting damaged is the leaf, not your beloved family members! To explore our full range of artificial plants that can be used anywhere in the home, regardless of who you share your space with, click here.