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Home Improvement: Using House Plants

House plants do more than make a home beautiful. Many help to purify your air by filtering out the toxins and pollutants. Others are poisonous houseplants and can be dangerous to children and animals. Get to know your plants a bit better with this guide to the good and the bad of houseplants.

Natural Filters
An ongoing study by NASA has found that many of houseplants help to filter out chemicals, benzene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, thereby promoting good indoor air quality. Help your home have healthy air by putting some of these plants around your home.

  • Aloe Vera
  • Spider Plants
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Ficus
  • English Ivy
  • Gerbera Daisy
  • Mauna Loa
  • Bamboo Plant
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Mother-in-law's Tongue

Danger! Danger!
Although many plants are beneficial to air quality, there are many common houseplants that can be toxic to both humans and animals; some are dangerous when they are ingested, while others can cause a reaction if they are touched. Keep yourself and your family safe by knowing which plants, or parts of the plant, should be kept out of reach of young children and the family pet.

  • Aloe Vera (the juice)
  • Amaryllis (bulb)
  • Chrysanthemums (leaves and stalks)
  • Angel's Trumpets and Angel's Wings (all parts of both plants)
  • English Ivy (leaves)
  • Hydrangea (leaves and buds)
  • Azalea (all parts, although the plant has a low toxicity level)
  • Poinsettia (leaves and stems, although plant is not as poisonous as previously thought)
  • Crown of Thorns (sap is irritating to skin)
  • Flamingo Flower (all parts)
  • Myrtle (all parts)

Preventing Exposure to Poisonous House Plants
Once you have identified which of your houseplants are poisonous, place them in a location where young children and/or pets cannot easily reach them. Be aware that some plants can cause a reaction through contact, while others need to be ingested for their poison to take affect. It is also important to assess just how poisonous your plants are. Some only have a mild toxicity while others can be lethal. Contact your local poison control center, botanical garden or retail nursery to help identify the degree to which your plants are poisonous.

If your child or pet has eaten a poisonous plant, identify which plant has been ingested, how much has been consumed and contact your local poison control center. You may need to take the plant with you if you are instructed to go to the nearest emergency room.

The best way to prevent an accidental poisoning is to teach your children never to eat or play with plants, leaves or flowers both indoors and outdoors. Also, make sure your children know not to pick and eat berries from plants without getting permission from an adult first.

Hammer Have a question about your plants? Visit our Home Décor forum to get the answers you need.