Succulents have been popular lately because they are an excellent addition to any room’s appearance; it boosts the room’s aesthetic effect. If you have pet cats and dogs and you want to grow succulents at home, you need to be aware of how succulents can affect your pets. Do you know that some succulents are toxic to pets?
Although some varieties are safe around pets, as a responsible pet owner you have to know which variety of succulents are toxic and can pose a threat to your beloved pets. In this article, we will be discussing both safe and toxic succulents to pets.
Hopefully, we will be able to share with you everything you need to know about succulents and pets. Pets and plants can cohabit in the same living space, but you need to make sure that you are well-informed to help make this happen. Here is some information you need to know so you can have a harmonious and safe home for both of your pets and succulents.
Cats and dogs love to chew on plants, so you must make sure to keep your pets and plants away from each other. Sometimes pets cannot control themselves and will try to investigate and munch on plants even though some of these plants can cause gastrointestinal problems when ingested.
Why are Some Succulents Toxic and Dangerous?
Succulents are an amazing addition to any room as a decoration or a part of rock gardens outdoors. Succulents have evolved and devised strategies to protect themselves from any predators or herbivores that can eat or damage them by biting off their leaves or stems.
Plants cannot defend themselves and they cannot run away from animals so they have developed thorns, spines. Some types give off an awful smell and taste. In fact, some varieties can be quite toxic and dangerous when ingested. Most domesticated pets do not pay attention to the smell of the plants and sometimes they cannot control themselves, so they nibble on the plants without even knowing that these plants can be harmful to them.
What Succulents are Safe to be Around Your Pets?
1. Blue Echeveria – Blue Echeveria is the common name for several succulent species such as E. elegans and E. imbricate. This succulent is safe for people and pets. This plant can be propagated easily as they can multiply quickly. Simple and elegant this lovely succulent is a great plant as a solo piece. You can use this planter container if you want to grow this plant at home.
5. Burro’s Tail (Sedum Morganianum) – A native plant to Southern Mexico, this succulent is one of the most popular houseplants because it can be placed in hanging baskets. This plant is a perennial evergreen and has long hanging stems and can grow up to 3 feet long. The leaves of the Burro’s Tail are plump and spherical and they are bluish-green.
The Burro’s Tail is a trailing plant and looks amazing as a decoration. You can use a hanging basket like this. This plant prefers areas that have partial shade and it looks great when added to any succulent collection.
6. Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea Recurvata) – This plant has a confusing name because it is not a palm tree; the Ponytail Palm is a succulent from the Agave family. It has a bulbous trunk, mainly because its trunk is where it stores water and it also has long and thin hair-like leaves that grow from the top part of the trunk that resembles a ponytail.
The ponytail palm is low-maintenance and only needs little watering. This plant is perfect for individuals who prefer succulents that are easy to care for. This succulent can tolerate low light conditions, so you can place them in shaded areas or indoors. This plant is safe to have around your pets.
7. Black Rose (Aenium Arboreum Zwartkop) – This succulent has a unique feature: beautiful dark purple foliage. This plant has striking rosettes that resemble a cluster of flowers and it also has waxy leaves. This succulent can grow over 3 feet long. This plant is monocarpic, which means they die after flowering only once, they produce offsets before they bloom flowers.
8. Zebra plant (Haworthia attenuata) – This plant is extremely versatile, as one of the most photogenic succulents, the zebra plant is also very low-maintenance. It can thrive in areas that have low-light. When you are planning to grow this succulent, do not place it in a terrarium. Terrariums do not have drainage holes and have increased humidity; some succulents do not prefer this type of living condition.
The zebra plant looks like an aloe plant; they belong in the same subfamily. This plant has pointed green leaves and white spots that resemble the zebra’s stripes. This succulent produces offshoots easily especially when they are mature so you can propagate them easily.
9. Hens and Chicks (Sempervivums) – This plant belongs to a large genus of succulent plants. This succulent is cold hardy and can stand harsh climates making them perfect outdoor plants. This plant is called hens and chicks because they are easily propagated. The hen or the mother plant multiplies easily and forms small baby chicks, which then you can repot in pots like this. The clusters of rosettes can grow up to 8 inches wide. This plant comes in many varieties of color, size, and texture that you can choose from accordingly.
10. Ghost Plant (Graptopetalum Paraguayense) – This succulent is a perennial plant native to Mexico. The Ghost plant has thick, fleshy, triangular leaves that form into clusters that resemble beautiful rosettes. The stems of the ghost plant trail or hang while they grow and mature. You can use a hanging planter like this.
Ranging from pale blue to light purple, the ghost plant turns slightly translucent and pinkish. If exposed in full sunlight and little watering, this plant turns gray with pink overtones.
What Succulents are Toxic to Pets?
1. Panda plant (Kalanchoe Tomentosa) – Toxic to Cats and Dogs
Panda plants belong to the Kalanchoe genus, which includes tropical flowering plants that bloom even during the coldest months in winter. This succulent is low-maintenance and can tolerate dry climates which makes them a popular succulent houseplant. Panda plants are perennial shrubs that have furry leaves that are greenish-gray in color and have white fuzzy hair and brown spots on its margins and tips. Kalanchoe plants contain cardiac glycosides that can be lethal if ingested in large amounts.
Symptoms – increased salivation, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, lethargy
When ingested in large amounts, it can also cause irregular heart rate, increased heart rate, difficulty in breathing, severe weakness, fainting, and can sometimes it can be lethal.
2. Aloe Vera – Toxic to Dogs, Cats, and Horses
Aloe is a popular genus of small dwarf species and large tree-like species that is capable of growing up to 30 feet. This succulent has thick, fleshy, green to bluish grey-green leaves. Some varieties have white flecks on its stem. Aloe Vera is widely popular due to its medicinal and beneficial properties to humans.
When pets ingest aloe vera, it is toxic. It has saponin, which is a main toxin that can cause serious, lethal problems when ingested by your pet cat or dog. You can use this pot if you decide to grow this succulent.
Symptoms – Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, skin irritation, lethargy, and tremors.
3. Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia Milii) – Toxic to Dogs and Humans
A native succulent plant found in Madagascar, the crown of thorns is capable of growing indoors. However, since it is toxic to dogs and humans, you have to place it in an area where no one can reach it. It has sharp thorns and can be quite painful if accidentally bumped into.
The plant has a white sap that contains the strongest amount of toxicity which is poisonous and can also cause skin irritation. This succulent is very prickly because of its 1/2 inch thorns and it also tastes bitter. Take extreme precautions when handling this plant. The sap oozes from broken leaves or stem and it can cause skin irritation. Make sure to wash your hands after handling this plant.
Symptoms – Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (when ingested)
Skin irritation, dermatitis, and can also cause blisters and swelling of the mouth and eyes. (contact symptoms)
4. Pencil Cactus (Euphorbia Tiruacalli) – Toxic to Dogs, Cats, and Horses
A native succulent plant to Africa and Madagascar, this succulent belongs to a large genus of plants. The pencil cactus has small and slender leaves and has cylindrical branches. This plant comes in different colors, from green to red-orange, and may intensify as the colder months come. The sap from this plant is the main irritant, so be careful when handling it.
Symptoms – Mild irritation to the mouth and stomach when ingested, can also cause vomiting (usually mild symptoms only occur)
5. Snake Plant (Sansevieria Trifasciata) – Toxic to Cats and Dogs
Snake Plant or Mother in Law’s tongue is a native succulent plant commonly found in West Africa. Its leaves are long and pointed upwards and have yellow edges that may resemble a snake. This succulent is easy to care for because it can thrive in harsh conditions.
This plant contains saponin, a chemical that causes mild toxicity. A lot of succulent growers prefer this plant because it can help purify the air by removing formaldehyde and benzene toxins found in the air.
Symptoms – Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
6. String of Pearls (Senecio Rowleyanus) – Toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals
This succulent is a native plant found in South Africa. This plant has become popular with succulent growers because it trails as it grows and it is extremely versatile. Its stems can grow up to 3 feet in length and can be left trailing or hanging, you can use a hanging planter like this when you plan to grow it at home.
The stems of this plant are lined with pea-like leaves that can be quite tempting for your pets. This plant blooms white flowers that have sweet cinnamon-vanilla scent that can be quite tempting to some animals. The String of pearls is not frost-tolerant and will need protection from direct sunlight.
The sap of this plant can cause skin irritation and dermatitis to humans and pets. Be careful when handling this plant!
Symptoms – Vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, lethargy.
7. Jade plant (Crassula ovata) – Toxic to Cats and Dogs
This variety of succulent is one of the most popular varieties of houseplant. The jade plant is native to South Africa and Mozambique. This plant is also known as a money tree, friendship tree, or lucky plant. This succulent looks like a mini-tree and has thick, fleshy, smooth oval-shaped leaves that grow in opposite pairs.
Symptoms – Vomiting, depression, lethargy, in-coordination, decreased heart rate
8. Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe Daigremontiana) – Toxic to Cats, Dogs, Birds, and Cows
This succulent plant is native to Madagascar. This plant is considered a nuisance because it can multiply and grow very quickly. It has large green leaves that form small plantlets along its edges. The plantlets are capable of growing anywhere they land, which can get out of hand because they are rapid growers. The Mother of Thousands is hardy and can tolerate extreme heat once it is established. It contains a toxic steroid, daigremontianin.
Symptoms – Vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and sometimes can cause irregular heart rate, seizures, tremors and collapse
9. Mother of Millions (Kalanchoe Delagoensis) – Toxic to Cats, Dogs, and Other Animals
This succulent is also referred to as Bryophyllum Delagoensis. This plant rapidly grows as it multiplies easily; the small plantlets it produces can grow anywhere it lands, hence the name Mother of Millions. The seeds of the plants can survive for a year even when the plants are pulled out.
It can survive in dry climates and can adapt to different environments. This plant is considered as weeds in some areas and they contain bufadienolide cardiac glycosides, which is fatal when ingested in large amounts.
Synonyms – abdominal irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heart rhythm, and the risk is high if large amounts are ingested.
10. Silver Jade Plant (Crassula Arborescens) – Toxic to Cats and Dogs
This succulent is a native plant commonly found in South Africa. This plant has a distinguishing feature: “silver dollar” leaves which are silvery-green in color and has a round shape with reddish edges.
Symptoms – Nausea and vomiting
How to Keep Your Pets Away From Your Succulents
When you have a succulent collection at home or in your garden, make sure they are out of reach to your pets. Avoid raising varieties that are toxic to them. If you decide to purchase toxic varieties of plants, make sure to keep them in an area that your pets will not be able to access.
If you find out that your pet has accidentally ingested any of the toxic plants, make sure to call your vet or go to an animal hospital. You can also call the animal poison control center, just in case a specific treatment needs to be done for your pet.
Here are some of the ways you can do to keep your pets away from your succulents:
1. Aluminum foil – You can use it to wrap a layer on the top part of the succulent container. You can use it on the soil so your pets, especially cats, will avoid it.
2. Pine cones – You can use pine cones by surrounding the succulents with them so your pets will not be able to get to them.
3. Cages – You can use cages and place the toxic succulents inside so your pets will not be able to get to them. You can place your plants on shelves or windowsills or place them in a hanging basket. Keep them low enough so you can reach it for watering.
4. Coffee grounds, orange peels, or lemon peels – These items are commonly found inside homes, just sprinkle them on the soil and spread the orange or lemon peels on the soil so the pets will stay away from your succulents. This will also help replenish the soil.
5. Terrariums – You can use open or closed terrariums to keep your succulents safe from your pets. The terrarium will provide shelter for your plants and prevent your pets from getting to them. A terrarium needs less watering, so if you have a hectic schedule, this is a perfect solution for you! Check this out if you want one!
What To Do if Your Pet Accidentally Ingested a Toxic Succulent
- ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center – (888)-426-4435
- Pet Poison Helpline – (855)-764-7661
If you know any other ways to deal with having both pets and succulents at home, please do not hesitate to let us know. We are looking forward to hearing from you!
Do you have a succulent collection? Do you have pets at home? We all know pets can be sometimes a bit curious and try to eat plants out of curiosity. Learning about safe and toxic succulents while having pets will equip you with the knowledge on how to manage everything at home.
If you want to know more information about toxic and non-toxic succulents, you have to check out the rest of our website. We offer plenty of information on everything you need to know about raising succulents. If you have any questions or inquiries about succulents, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!
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