From our guest contributor Perfect Plants
It is rare that people or pets choose to eat toxic plants. But indeed, it does happen. Some poisonous plants don’t even need to be eaten in order to prove fatal. Indeed, there have been gardeners believed to have been killed by wolfsbane, or Aconitum, which is also known as monkshood. This attractive plant has large leaves and purple, hooded flowers which look rather like cowled monks’ hoods. Then there’s Hemlock, Deadly Nightshade and even Foxgloves that are all capable of adverse health effects or even death.
On the other hand, plants are extremely good for us! Not only do we eat them (vegetables, herbs, fruit), but they filter toxins from the air, produce oxygen and are good for the soul too.
To derive the maximum benefit from plants we need to incorporate them into our homes as well as our gardens. Some are better than others at cleaning the air and producing oxygen, but those with pets or small children might want to choose from non-toxic house plants to eliminate risk.
Fortunately, the list of plants believed to be non-toxic is tempting and it includes the beautiful Areca palm, which is also one of the best for purifying the air. Dypsis lutescens is also known as the yellow butterfly palm; the bamboo palm and the golden cane palm and it is one of the easiest palm trees to grow indoors. It came near the top of a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) study of the 10 best air purifying plants. What’s more, it can grow just about as large as you want it to – generally up to around 2.5m indoors (although it will, of course, be restricted by the size of its pot).
Other people-and pet-friendly palms include the Canary Island date palm, Phoenix canariensis, which will enable your imagination to whisk you off to a tropical island paradise! This typical palm tree makes a great house, office or conservatory plant and in a bright enough position and large enough pot it will be able to grow several metres high, with a similar spread. Its arching evergreen fronds, however, have a certain sharpness about them so although it’s thought to be non-toxic, perhaps little fingers should stay away.
A smaller, but no less interesting, type of palm is the ‘ponytail palm’ or Nolina maya. Also known as Beaucarnea recurvata; the maya palm or ‘elephant’s foot’, it has a thick woody stem and palm-like foliage. In fact, this semi-succulent stores water in its stem a bit like the iconic Baobab tree of Africa and Australia. Many plants make great talking points and this is one of them.
Want something a little smaller – a hanging plant perhaps? You can’t go wrong with the good old Chlorphytum, otherwise known as a spider plant! These brilliant plants are really efficient air cleaners and they now come in several different forms. The effect that can be achieved with a collection of hanging spider plants is second-to-none. So easy to propagate – little fingers can practice their gardening skills without worry. These are plants that take up no room at all as they can hang in space that would otherwise be empty.
You might like to create a little succulent collection for maximum intrigue. If this is appealing, consider the charming succulent Echeverias such as ‘Purple Pearl’; ‘Perle von Nurnberg’ and ‘Taurus’ which look really effective when grouped together. Easy to care for, they make the perfect ‘starter plant’; they are highly effecting air improvers; they actually produce oxygen at night and therefore make good bedroom companions – and they have no known toxic properties.
Of course, there are plenty of herbs which are not only non-toxic but they are edible too! Ideal for the kitchen windowsill they make the perfect subject for young gardeners.
Perfect Plants is an on-line supplier of garden plants and house plants. Also garden equipment, furniture and gifts. Tel: 01323 833479