With Christmas just around the corner, gift ideas are often hard to find for that special person. Poinsettias are the most popular Christmas plant purchased today; unfortunately, they can be dangerous to children and pets. These alternative potted flowers and plants are wonderful gifts that keep on giving year round and come in a variety of colors and styles. Best yet, the following plants are non-toxic and are safe for households with children or pets. Just decorate the pots with Christmas foil, add a big ribbon and a few tiny colorful Christmas decorations, such as balls, birds, or bells – and have a Very Merry Christmas!
African Violets have hairy, dark green, heart shaped leaves, sometimes with reddish tints on the underside. They range in flower color from white, pink, violet, dark red, yellow, and some even green, and the flowers may be either single (five petals) or double (more than five petals). African violets prefer a constant temperature between 68-77 °F with high humidity.
The Boston Fern became a popular houseplant in the 19th century Victorian era and continues to be today. With green fronds 2-5 foot long, this plant can have a weeping or bushy appearance and is often found as a hanging basket. It likes bright filtered light in the home and does well in humid conditions versus being too dry.
The Christmas Cactus has been kept as a holiday houseplant since the 1800’s. The plant has flat green leaves with sharp, thorny points. The flowers are tubular in shape and can be yellow, salmon, pink, fuchsia, white, or a combination of these colors. They do well in bright indirect light with temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees.
The Coleus has very colorful variegated leaves, typically with sharp contrast between the colors; the leaves may be green, pink, yellow, dark purple, maroon, and red. It does well in indirect light and is considered a low maintenance plant.
The Jade plant is also known as the “friendship tree” or Money Plant and it is a succulent plant with small pink or white star shaped flowers. Jades are evergeen plants with thick branches and smooth, rounded, fleshy leaves that grow in opposing pairs along the branches. They will grow in full sun to light shade. However, they do not tolerate extreme heat or overexposure to direct sun very well. Some people use the Jade plant to make a bonsai form of the plant.
The Spider plant has long, slender leaves, which grow from a central rosette. The leaves are about 8 – 15 inches long and are light green with a broad creamy-white line down the middle. Thin, yellowish stalks grow out from the leaves and produce smaller plants at the end called baby plantlets. It also produces branched stolons with small white flowers. It is a long-standing popular houseplant, easy to grow, and tolerates a lot of neglect. Some studies have shown that spider plants even help to reduce indoor air pollution.
Non-Poisonous Plants, Photographs, Nebraska Regional Poison Center