How to Grow: Poisonous Holiday Plants

Learn about poisonous holiday plants, including information on which to grow and which to avoid.

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Flower, Petals, Blossom, Bloom, Early, Red AmaryllisIt’s fun to decorate the house with colorful holiday plants and seasonal greens. They create a warm, welcoming atmosphere during these cold, dark days. But whether you’re decorating your own home or giving holiday plants as gifts, you should keep in mind some can be toxic to pets and young children. The reactions can range from a mild skin irritation, to stomach upset, to a serious reaction needing medical attention. If you suspect a plant is being “tasted” by kids or pets, to be safe call the poison control center or your vet to find out the right course of action.

Some common bulbs can be the worst culprits. Amaryllis, daffodils and hyacinths all can be toxic if the leaves or bulbs are ingested. Holiday greens such as mistetoe, mountain laurel and yews sprigs can also cause a reaction.
And colorful berries, such as holly and bittersweet, are harmful if eaten.

Surprising to many people, poinsettia leaves are not as poisonous as you would think. The leaves can cause an upset stomach in kids, but a child would have to eat hundreds of leaves to really get sick, and frankly they aren’t that tasty!

If you want to avoid these holiday plants and still have a festival house consider safer alternatives. Some plants to decorate with that aren’t toxic include christmas cactus, orchids and African violets.

So, should you forego all these beautiful, but potentially harmful, plants for the holidays. Certainly not. Just be aware to place them where kids and pets can’t reach them and move them to a safe location after the holidays.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.