Landscape Logic: pets and holiday plants |

Landscape Logic: pets and holiday plants

Becky Garber
Landscape Logic
Although commonly believed to be so, poinsettias are not toxic, but there are other holiday-themed plants that are.
Special to the Daily

Contrary to urban myth, poinsettias, which are the traditional plant of the holidays, are not poisonous. Studies published by the Mayo Clinic and information published online from Colorado State University Extension confirm neither people nor pets will die from consuming part of a poinsettia.

Their milky sap may be mildly irritating to people with sensitive skin, especially those who are latex sensitive. Washing with mild soap usually solves the problem. Eating large amounts of flowers and leaves can upset the stomach, but these plants are not known to be deadly.

Plants to avoid

If you have pets, particularly a puppy who is prone to chew on almost anything, consider avoiding the following plants:

Amaryllis is a seasonal favorite that should be kept out of the reach of family pets. The bulb is the most dangerous part and chewing or consuming it can result in hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and neurological issues for your pet.

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American holly is another holiday standby that’s best to avoid around pets. This variety has potentially toxic compounds that can cause gastrointestinal irritation.

Plastic mistletoe berries. While berries and leaves of real plants can cause mild gastritis if chewed or consumed, the plastic berries packaged with natural mistletoe are the serious threat to pets. If your pet ingests the plastic, you may end up with a visit to the vet to induce vomiting or in some cases, to perform surgery if the plastic remains in the digestive tract.

Kalanchoe, a flowering succulent, is popular for its showy blooms. Yet it can cause gastrointestinal problems. Place it out of the pet’s reach or in a room inaccessible to pets.

Avoid these toxic plants and play it safe with poinsettias and evergreens that are more pet-friendly. Rely on experts at your local garden center to help you avoid seasonal plants that might be a threat.

Becky Garber is director of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado, of which Neils Lunceford is a member. Neils Lunceford Inc. can be reached at 970-468-0340 and at

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