Hibiscus plants are known for brightening summer landscapes with large round flowers that range in color from red to white. While you may be tempted to add one of these plants to your garden, you should first learn about whether or not hibiscus is poisonous to dogs, cats, and humans.

Are Hibiscus Poisonous to Dogs, Cats, and Other Animals

About Hibiscus Plants

The Hibiscus genus consists of hundreds of different species of plants. Members of the Hibiscus genus are known for their large flowers.

The flowers typically only bloom for a day or two, but the plants produce a continuous supply of blooms during the warmer months.

Although all hibiscus plants share some visual characteristics in common, there are also notable differences between the species. Generally, you can break hibiscus species into two main categories: tropical and hardy hibiscus. Each is available in various colors, including beautiful yellow, red, and purple hibiscus flowers.

As you might expect, hibiscus species are native to tropical regions and cannot tolerate cold temperatures. When grown in warm areas, they keep their leaves year-round.

Hardy hibiscus is cold-tolerant plants that are native to temperate regions. Their leaves and stems die back each winter but regrow the following spring.

Is Hibiscus Poisonous to Animals?

Is Hibiscus Poisonous to Animals?

According to the ASPCA, the hibiscus plant known as Rose of Sharon is not poisonous to dogs, cats, horses, and other animals. However, some pet owners have reported that their animals have become sick after eating this plant.

So, what’s the correct answer?

In general, hibiscus plants are likely non-toxic to animals. However, it never hurts to err on the side of caution and keep plants out of reach of your pets.

How to Keep Pets Away from Hibiscus

If you’re worried that your pets will ingest your hibiscus plant and become sick, keeping your pet away from the plant can help your peace of mind.

Placing a fence around outdoor hibiscus plants can help keep dogs and horses away. And placing indoor hibiscus plants on high shelves or in a room with closed doors can keep cats and dogs away.

What Should I Do If I Think My Pet Has Eaten a Poisonous Plant?

What Should I Do If I Think My Pet Has Eaten a Poisonous Plant?

While hibiscus plants are typically non-toxic to animals, you should be aware of the steps you should take if your pest ingests something poisonous.

First, know the signs that indicate your pet may have ingested something toxic. Symptoms of poisoning can include vomiting, excessive drooling, diarrhea, seizures, lethargy, and changes in behavior.

These symptoms don’t necessarily indicate that your pet has eaten something toxic, but this is one possible cause.

If you notice any of these symptoms develop, you should closely monitor your pet and note any changes. It’s also a good idea to look around and see if your pet has eaten a plant or something else.

If symptoms become concerning, contacting your veterinarian is a good idea. They can advise you on what steps to take.

On the other hand, you may have seen your pet eat a plant. If this is the case, try to identify the plant and determine whether or not it is toxic.

If you’re unsure what the plant is (or if it’s toxic), closely monitor your pet for any changes in health or behavior. Should concerning changes occur, contact a veterinarian. 

Is Hibiscus Toxic to Humans?

No part of the hibiscus plant is toxic to humans. That means you can have this plant around children without worrying about them ingesting the plant.

With that said, you should discourage children (and adults) from consuming unknown plants.

Is Hibiscus Edible?

Is Hibiscus Edible?

As mentioned above, the Hibiscus genus consists of hundreds of species. While none of these plants are toxic to humans, some are more pleasant to eat than others.

The tropical hibiscus known as roselle or red sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa), is one of the most popular edible types of hibiscus.

This type of hibiscus produces bright red calyxes, also known as the first portion of the flower to develop. People pick this part of the plant and then steep it in water to make tea.

Variations of hibiscus tea are popular in countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Jamaica, Panama, and Thailand. Depending on the region, the tea may be enjoyed hot or cold, sweetened or unsweetened, and with or without other flavors such as mint and ginger.

Are Hibiscus Poisonous: Wrapping Up

Hibiscus plants are most likely non-toxic to dogs and cats, and they are non-toxic to humans. That said, you should always contact a veterinarian if your pet shows signs they have eaten something toxic.

For more, see our in-depth guide to hibiscus flower meaning and symbolism.

Contributing Editor | Full Bio | + posts

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.


Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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