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Thanks for the thorough first-hand experience. Lots of poisonous plant anecdotes are simply repetitions of what today are called urban myths, or at best misattributions of problems to what looks like the obvious colorful culprit.
Have you had any experience, or read any reports of animal (or people, for that matter) problems related to the pesticides applied to houseplants (holiday or otherwise)? That would be a great followup article as well.
I don't follow the tropical or houseplant forums; maybe this has been stated there before. As a much younger horticulturist (20 years ago) I was taught by mentors that Poinsettia was more dangerous (at that time) due to the granular surface-applied pesticide commonly used during plant production. That product had plenty of aspects that would cause havoc with mammals if ingested.
As you have expressed so well above, there are many more common items potentially more devastating to pets around the house than plants. Like loose string.
Excellent article! Now I can tell my friends to relax and let the cats into the same room as the poinsettias... :-)
I hope you'll do an article at some point on common houseplants (like spider plants, pothos, wandering jew, english ivy as you just mentioned) and their toxicity -- maybe a top 10 list of ones we should actually watch out for. Is there a web site you could recommend for sensible advice on this topic? As you've said, there's a lot of scary exaggeration out there.
I'll definitely be sending the link to this article around to friends and family. Thanks!!
Great info Geoff! I especially liked the little note at the bottom indicating that there are so many other things to be watchful for around the holidays...tinsel was always our biggest problem...the cats just really seem to enjoy choking it down.