Everything You Need to Know About Spider Plant Toxicity

Houseplants, such as spider plants or Chlorophytum comosum, offer the perfect way to bring some of nature’s beauty into the home. Along with cleaning indoor air and adding lovely color and texture to any space, spider plants have an additional benefit: These popular houseplants are non-toxic to children and dogs. However, cat owners should be aware that spider plants contain certain compounds that act as mild hallucinogens and may cause gastric distress. This guide will take you through everything you need to know about spider plant toxicity to humans and pets. 


Are Spider Plants Toxic or Poisonous? – The Essentials

Spider plants aren’t toxic or poisonous for humans or dogs. However, they do contain chemical compounds that are mild hallucinogens. If cats ingest them, they may experience hallucinations. They may also experience gastric problems, such as an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea.


About Spider Plants

About Spider Plants

C. comosum plants are prized for their long, arching foliage. The plant’s lush fronds emerge from a central root crown and take on a gentle, drooping form. Plants can grow up to 16 inches tall and 24 inches wide, with fronds up to 12 inches long.

C. comosum’s foliage is all green, and it’s not the most common types of spider plant found in indoor gardens. Rather, two cultivars are the most popular spider plants in homes and offices. Both are variegated. C. comosum ‘Variegatum’ has dark green fronds with white margins and green stems. C. comosum ‘Vittatum’ has lighter green leaves with a white stripe in the center and white flower stems.

There are three variations within the species. These include C. comosum var. comosum, which can be identified by its narrow leaves, and C. comosum var. sparsiflorum which has broader foliage. C. comosum var. bipindense foliage has a stripe on the underside of foliage, and produces long flower stems.

Mature plants send out scrapes or stems up to two or more feet long, with clusters of white, insignificant flowers at the ends. Once flowers fade, the plants produce an abundance of “baby spiders” or offshoots at the end of each stem. These little pups grow their fleshy roots, making them easy to transplant.

Spider plant foliage isn’t toxic to humans or dogs, making it a safe houseplant choice for households with small children or canines. However, the plants do contain chemical compounds that act as mild hallucinogenics and can cause gastric distress for felines.

The plant’s long, grasslike fronds wave and move with even the slightest breeze, making them attractive to curious cats. Felines also like to eat the foliage, as it resembles grass. This means spider plants aren’t always the best choice for households with feline inhabitants.

Are All Types of Spider Plant Toxic?

Are All Types of Spider Plant Toxic?

All types of spider plants can cause mild hallucinations and gastric problems in cats. This includes the species (C. comosum) and its three variations (C. comosum var. comosum, C. comosum var. sparsiflorum and C. comosum var. bipindense).

Unfortunately, the two variegated cultivars that are commonly sold as houseplants, C. comosum ‘Variegatum’ and C. comosum ‘Vittatum’, also contain chemical compounds that can cause problems for cats. Choosing one type of spider plant instead of another won’t eliminate the potential risk.

If you have cats in your home, do your best to keep them out of reach. Alternately, consider choosing a different type of plant that does not contain toxins.


What Happens to Your Pets If They Chew or Ingest a part of a Spider Plant?

What Happens to Your Pets If They Chew or Ingest a part of a Spider Plant?

If your dog (or even your child) chews on a spider plant, they should be fine. Even if they ingest a bit of foliage, there shouldn’t be any toxic effects.

It’s a different story for cats. It’s thought that spider plants contain chemical compounds that are similar to those found in catnip, which is thought to cause a mild hallucinogenic reaction in cats. Chewing on or ingesting spider plants may cause a feeling of euphoria or a “high” for felines.

Eating the plants can also lead to stomach issues. Stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea may result. However, the spider plant isn’t considered toxic enough to be a severe health threat to cats.

In fact, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals considers the spider plant non-toxic. But it’s still not fun to clean up cat vomit. And it’s definitely not fun for your cat to have a stomach ache.


What To Do If Your Pet Has Symptoms or is Unwell?

Thankfully, spider plants don’t pose a significant risk to your cat’s health, either severe illness or death. However, they may experience some symptoms after eating spider plant foliage.

Monitor your cat if you notice signs that your cat has been chewing on the plants, such as bits of leaves or dirt on the ground.

You may want to isolate your cat in order to watch them closely. Make sure the cat has plenty of fresh water available in case they become dehydrated. If they vomit or have diarrhea for more than a few hours, give your veterinarian a call. In most cases, the symptoms should resolve on their own without intervention.


Tips to Keep Your Pets Away from Spider Plants

Tips to Keep Your Pets Away from Spider Plants

While spider plants aren’t toxic, they can cause your cat to have mild hallucinations and an upset stomach. It’s best to try to keep your cat away from the plant.

However, this may be easier said than done. Spider plants are beloved by the indoor gardener for their graceful, arching fronds and long offshoots that sway and move in even the lightest breeze. Of course, this type of movement — a tiny “spider” offshoot dancing on the end of a long, dangling stem — is very attractive to cats.

Add in the grasslike nature of the spider plants’ fronds, and it’s easy to see why cats may find this popular houseplant virtually irresistible. Some compare the effect of spider plants on cats almost to that of catnip.

Cats are drawn to the plants to play with the moving offshoots, then are attracted to the grasslike fronds. Eating the leaves provides a bit of euphoria along with a tummyache! So while eating a bit of spider plant isn’t likely to cause serious or long-term health problems, it’s still best to try and keep cats from ingesting the leaves.

The easiest solution is to simply position the spider plant in a spot where your cat can’t access it. Since C. comosumi is often displayed as a hanging plant, put it high enough off the floor that your cat can’t reach. Keep in mind that cats can (and will) climb and jump, so stay away from windowsills, shelving, furniture, and doors.

If the offshoots grow long enough so that cats can reach them, snip off the baby spiders and plant them in a new pot. This is an easy way to propagate more spider plants, too.

If you can’t find a spot out of your cat’s reach, spray the spider plant’s leaves with a cat repellent spray. The bitter taste may provide just enough deterrent to keep your cat at bay. Some cats really dislike the smell and taste of citrus. Leaving some citrus peels around the plant may help keep cats away.

You can also distract your cat by placing other, safer plants within the cat’s reach. A container of indoor grass or catnip may be just attractive enough to make them forget about the spider plant.

Tips and Considerations for Handling Spider Plants

Fortunately, spider plants aren’t toxic to humans, so there’s no need to take special care when handling them. However, try to keep the plants away from cats when you’re working with them. This means watching the floor to ensure no clippings fall where cats can get them.


Wrapping Up

While spider plants aren’t likely to cause serious harm to your cat’s health, they can act as a hallucinogenic. They may also cause stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested. Keep your cat safe and healthy by placing your spider plant well out of felines’ reach.


Author

Linsay is an American copywriter based in the Pacific Northwest with a background in academic writing and research. Linsay holds Master's degree in both Anthropology and Library and Information Sciences and has written for numerous national and international publications including USA Today, SFGATE, Hunker, and The Bump across an array of topics in the gardening, green living, and travel sectors. When she's not writing, you'll usually find Linsay reading, kayaking, sailing, snowboarding, or working in her garden.

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