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Vermont Garden Journal: Poisonous Holiday House Plants

Poinsettia leaves are not as poisonous as one might think. The leaves can cause an upset stomach in kids, but they'd have to eat hundreds of leaves to cause major issues.

Colorful plants and seasonal greens are a staple in many homes during the holiday season, but it’s important to makes sure you protect your children and pets from toxic varieties. Exposure to such plans can cause a range or reactions: from a mild skin irritation, to stomach upset, to a serious issues needing medical attention.

Some common bulbs can be the worst culprits:

Amaryllis, daffodils and hyacinths all can be toxic if the leaves or bulbs are ingested.

Exposure to holiday greens like mistletoe, mountain laurel and yews sprigs can cause unpleasant reactions.

Colorful berries, such as holly and bittersweet, are also harmful if eaten.

Should you forego all these beautiful, but potentially harmful, plants for the holidays?

Of course not! Make sure to place these plants out of reach of any kids and pets.

If you'd rather avoid these holiday plants there are safer alternatives available. Christmas cactus, orchids and African violets provide a pop of holiday color and can be equally festive.

For this week's tip: when buying a live holiday tree to plant around the yard after the holidays, dig a hole where it will be planted before the ground freezes and store the soil in a freeze-free garage or shed. Keep the tree in a cold garage and only indoors for about one week so it doesn't break dormancy and then plant outside right after the holidays.

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