If you are looking for a hardy, low light house plant, the ZZ plant (or Zamioculcas zamifolia) is a great choice. You may, however, wonder whether ZZ plants are poisonous, and if they are safe for your family and pets.
Is a ZZ plant poisonous? Yes, ZZ plants are poisonous to both humans and pets. ZZ plants can cause skin and eye irritation with direct contact, and can cause stomach ache, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. However, you can share your home safely with a ZZ plant with a few simple precautions.
A few years ago, there was quite a bit of false information out there on ZZ plants. Many people believed that the plant was so toxic that it could cause cancer and that the only way to safely handle the plant was while wearing gloves. This is not true.
To learn more about just how toxic the ZZ plant is and how to safely handle and care for it, read on.
How Poisonous Are Zamioculcus Zamifolia Plants?
Your ZZ plant belongs to a poisonous family of plants, the Araceae family. Many people have a misconception about just how poisonous the plant actually is though.
Ingesting the leaves and sap can definitely be toxic to both humans and pets, but simply touching the plant will only cause minor issues at worst. However, it is important to wash your hands directly after touching the plant to ensure that there is no residue or sap that could cause skin irritation, get into your eyes, or unwittingly end up in your mouth.
Some believe that you must use gloves when handling a ZZ plant. While this is not strictly necessary, it can be a good idea.
What Makes The ZZ Plant Poisonous?
The plant actually produces the same substance that human kidney stones consist of, Calcium Oxalate. This substance has a crystal-like form with sharp edges. This is what causes skin irritation on contact with the sap and can cause irritation of the internal tissues if ingested.
Can A ZZ Plant Kill You?
While all parts of the ZZ plant produce Calcium Oxalate, it would be unlikely that it could kill you. The amount of sap that one would have to ingest would be very significant to cause more than tummy upset. Most people and pets that come into contact with the plant only suffer allergy-type symptoms.
Certain parts of the human body are highly sensitive to Calcium Oxalate such as the skin and mucous membranes. If you or a child ingests any part of the plant, you can expect a stomach ache, potential diarrhea and possible vomiting. The best thing to do is to ensure that you stay hydrated while the poison leaves your system.
Are ZZ Plants Poisonous To Dogs, Cats And Other Pets?
While a ZZ plant can bring about allergies if humans come into contact with its sap, what happens if a pet eats part of the ZZ plant? Many people think that because their cats and dogs are smaller than they are, that the ZZ plant can have more of an impact.
The truth of the matter is that ZZ plants are poisonous, but not lethally toxic to pets. A pet that comes in contact with a ZZ plant may develop inflammation of the skin, eyes or mucus membranes.
If your pet eats part of a ZZ plant, they will experience some discomfort, but should be absolutely fine in the end. You can expect your dog or cat to have a stomach ache and a bad case of diarrhea. If vomiting occurs, you need to ensure that your pet is well hydrated.
Dehydration can cause death in pets. Encouraging your pet to eat can help the body pass the plant and toxins. If you have overly curious cats or dogs, perhaps avoid bringing the plant into your home or move it to an area where pets won’t have access to it.
How To Grow A ZZ Plant Safely
ZZ plants are beautiful and very popular houseplants, and most people can keep them in their home very safely, even in the presence of pets and children. There are some important steps that you can take to ensure that your ZZ plant is safe for all the occupants of your house.
Learn About The Toxicity Of Your Plants
Just as you have done by reading this article, knowing which of your houseplants is toxic is half the battle. If you know which are safe and which are not, you can take appropriate precautions.
Put Your ZZ Plant Out Of Reach Of Children
If you have small children, their safety in your home is paramount. If you have a ZZ plant, place it well out of reach of small children or in an area of your house they do not have access to.
Older children can be educated about the toxicity of your ZZ plant, but you will need to judge their understanding and obedience individually, before trusting them to be near a ZZ plant.
Use Deterrents To Keep Pets Away
Both dogs, and especially cats, have great skills in getting to hard to reach areas of your home when they want to, so putting your ZZ plant out of reach isn’t always possible. However, a few simple deterrents can reduce their interest in your ZZ plant.
You can sprinkle some orange peel or coffee grounds onto the soil around your ZZ plant. Cats and dogs tend to dislike the strong odors produced, and will often stay away.
You can also spray your ZZ plant with a dilute vinegar solution which will deter all but the most persistent of pets.
Swap Your ZZ Plant For A Non-Toxic Plant
If you really want to be completely safe, there is always the option of swapping your ZZ plant for a non-toxic alternative. Here are some great choices that are safe for pets.