House plants add much to the indoor environment of a home or office. Beautiful and functional, not only do green plants produce oxygen, but some are also known to remove toxins from the air. These benefits may be overshadowed, however, by the poisonous nature of some house plants. Children and pets can be harmed and even killed by toxic houseplants. To avoid such a tragedy, choose house plants that are not poisonous.
The African violet (Saintpaulia ionanth) is the most popularly grown blooming house plant in the world, according to the University of Arkansas. This attractive flowering tropical plant is not only beautiful, but as an added bonus, it is entirely non-toxic and perfectly safe for use around pets and children. African violets bloom in shades of blue, red, purple, yellow and white. The thick, soft leaves, which can reach up to 6 inches long, are covered with fine hairs and can take root. The size of the plant is usually limited to the size of the container, but the flower stems can reach up to 6 inches in height.
African violets need consistently warm temperatures. They should not be subjected to anything below 55 degrees F. These flowers thrive in moist, nutrient-rich potting soil that is well-draining. It is important that the soil be kept moist at all times. African violets grow best when exposed to bright but indirect light, such as that as given by a north-facing window in the summer, and an east-facing window in the winter. Feed your African violet with a fertilizer formulated for blooming tropical plants (some are even made specifically for African violets) according to the directions on the label.
Dracaenas (Dracaena spp.) are a favorite with indoor home gardeners for their hardiness. Many of these tropical foliage plants can tolerate low light conditions, according to Clemson University. Dracaenas range in height from 2 to 10 feet tall. Most have a maximum width of 2 feet. The size of these plants can be contained by the size of their pots. Dracaenas are known for their colorful or variegated foliage.
These non-poisonous house plants prefer temperatures in the mid 60s degrees F during the day, with a drop of around 10 degrees at night. Water dracaenas when the top 1 inch or so of soil dries to the touch, and place them in an area where they will receive bright but indirect light. Feed them once every month with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer.
Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata Bostoniensis) are lush, showy plants. They are highly desirable house plants, especially in the southern parts of the United States, where the weather is humid and warm enough for these graceful plants to enhance front porches for part of the year. Boston ferns are the most popular type of fern in America, according to the University of Arkansas, and they are not poisonous to humans or pets. They have long, green fronds that can reach up to 4 feet in length. The fronds arch from the center of the plant, creating a fountain-like effect.
Many home gardeners grow Boston ferns outdoors during the summer, and bring them indoors during the winter. While these plants are not cold-hardy, they also do not entirely like the consistently warm temperatures of the indoor environment. Place your indoor Boston fern in a cool part of your home, but also near a window that receives bright, indirect light, for best results. As an extra help, run a humidifier near the plant occasionally, or place the fern on a tray filled with a shallow layer of pebbles and water. Feed your Boston fern once a month with a houseplant fertilizer according to the directions on the label for the size of your plant.