Gimme 5 Safe Plants

Although plants may not move swiftly or scream at the top of their lungs, they share many of our buddy birds’ demands. They need water, sunshine, attention, decent food, and someone who understands how to care for them in order to thrive.

It seems remarkable that birds and plants do not get along better because of their similarities. A plant placed near a bird usually seems to suffer from horrific bite wounds (at the very least) and, as a consequence, will try its best to make the bird sick. Furthermore, instructing a bird to respect plants is sometimes an impossible endeavor, therefore the obligation falls to the foliage. Fortunately, it is much simpler to discover plants that will stay safe and nontoxic to birds no matter what tortures they are subjected to. The following is a synopsis of the characteristics, appearances, and needs of five nontoxic houseplants that are fantastic for you and your bird.

The African Violet

“The color of roses is red, the color of violets is blue…” African violets (Saintpaulia spp.) are commonly grown in white, red, pink, mauve, and deep purple, rather of the blue shown in the children’s rhyme. They are in flower virtually all year. They are, in reality, an evergreen plant, which means they keep their leaves for more than one growing season.

The violets’ continuous bloom is most likely due to their natural location, tropical East Africa, where they were discovered by their Latin namesake, Baron Walter von Saint Paul-Illaire. The Baron, then District Commissioner of Tanga Province in Africa, found these plants (Saintpaulia spp.) during one of his late-nineteenth-century forays into the wilderness. Violets have continued to grow in popularity as houseplants since then.

African violets have become so popular that they are grown in a variety of color variations. Serious African violet producers submit their stock into contests where they are assessed on certain aesthetic criteria. Does this sound familiar? People may join African violet groups and events to express their enthusiasm for these beautiful evergreens. Growers have even created a breed of mini-violets, maybe because they were envious of the mini-macaws.

If you buy an African violet or come across one while traveling in East Africa, you’ll note that they’re around 6 inches tall with long-stalked, simple oval leaves. Flower petals are often diverse sizes, and the petals and leaves are somewhat hairy to the touch. If you want to retain your African violet, you must keep the roots (not the leaves) wet. It does not like hot temperatures or dry conditions, so keep it at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. African violets thrive on peat containing loam (a loose soil mix of clay, sand, and silt) and sharp sand.

The Boston Fern

The Boston fern, although not quite the party animal that tea leaves have shown to be, is Boston’s second most well-known plant (Nephrolepsis bostonensis). Perhaps the fern’s dignified and reverent manner stems from its position as one of the Earth’s oldest plant species. Great forests of ferns and fern-like trees are supposed to have grown in primordial ages, before humans were even a speck in the global Petri dish.

The Boston fern is much younger than its distant relatives. It is a relatively new mutant of the sword fern (N. exaltata). Sword ferns first appeared in horticulture in 1793 and rapidly became popular. During the Victorian period (1837 to 1901), it seemed impossible to enter a nice home without seeing a fern bursting from a porcelain pot. During this period, the Boston fern mutant was found and has since been grown as a desirable houseplant.

Boston ferns work well in hanging baskets. They feature several downward-arcing, brilliant green fronds that resemble the hair of a ’80s rock-‘n’-roll star. Each frond, or pinnate in this example, is made up of dozens of leaflets (small leaves connected to the same stalk). Small spore cases may be seen on the underside of each leaflet; these constitute the fern’s mode of reproduction.

Boston ferns thrive in humid areas with plenty of indirect light. Their soil (leaf mold, sand, and loam) must be maintained damp but not wet, and they must be watered often. They thrive at temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with periodic misting. A Boston fern may be damaged by direct sunshine or severe heat, but don’t fret; neglected ferns can generally be recovered with careful care. In other words, Boston ferns are excellent houseplants.

The Croton

The croton (Codiaeum variegatum) is perhaps the most challenging of the five plants on the list to cultivate indoors. It has only recently been retained as an indoor plant, despite being planted in tropical gardens since the late 1800s. Its beautiful leaf coloration more than compensates for its limitations with indoor living, and numerous variants have been produced in the past five to ten years to survive low inside light.

Crotons are unlikely to thrive inside because they want the sweet photosynthesis of their original home, the Malayan archipelago and adjacent Pacific Islands. In Hawaii, I would undoubtedly be much healthier. When properly cared for, they will typically forsake their tropical requirements. This maintenance includes keeping the temperature between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (temperatures over 70 degrees are preferable) and watering often. In hot weather, make sure your croton gets enough of light and is misted. Avoid any abrupt temperature fluctuations.

If you are successful, you will have a lovely speckled or blotched plant. Codiaeum variegatum comes in a variety of colors, thus the spots and leaves might be yellow, orange, red, green, or white, and the leaf form could vary from long and narrow to ovate (oval, but broadest at the base). In a container, they normally grow 12 to 18 inches tall, but they may grow much larger outside.

Your birds may be OK after munching on a few leaves, but keep crotons away from your youngsters and any other unruly animals in your home. They are likely to stain things with the indelible sap of the croton and subsequently get ill as a result of its toxicity to animals; if consumed, it may cause rashes, diarrhea, or vomiting.


Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a tropical Asian, American, and African plant that is brilliant, bold, and (you guessed it) gorgeous. Their name comes from the Chinese word for a succulent plant.

A “succulent” plant is one that stores water in its stems and/or leaves and is suited to live in a dry environment (like a cactus). However, if a kalanchoe was bitten into, it would most likely meet the alternative definition of succulent: juicy.

Kalanchoe are also photoperiodic plants, which implies that their bloom time is determined by the length of the day. Their vibrant red, orange, yellow, and pink blooms typically bloom in spring or early summer, but (because to their photoperiodic nature) they may be forced to bloom at other times of the year. This may be accomplished by limiting their exposure to sunshine to eight to ten hours each day for two months. Cool nights will help the flowers stay longer when they are in bloom.

Kalanchoe have a few special care needs. They should be watered often while in bloom, but only lightly when not in bloom until new buds form. They need a lot of light and like bright, sunny environments. They thrive on any well-drained soil with temperatures ranging from 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you prefer to leave them outdoors due to their enticing colors, keep them in partial shade and fertilize them every two weeks.

The Spider Plant

Good things may come in spindly, spidery packaging. The spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is an excellent, but arachnid-infested, South African package. It is similar to the “daddy-long-legs” of indoor plants in that it eliminates poisons from the air rather than bugs.

Spider plant development and multiplication mechanisms are likewise highly insect-like. It’s hard to believe it’s a member of the lily family. The mother plant produces multiple plantlets that cluster around it and will produce more spider plants if they locate the suitable soil. Don’t be alarmed; this will not happen overnight.

The spider plant gets its name from its spooky plantlet tendrils and ribbon-like leaves that curve downward like spider legs. They are almost indestructible plants that are great for inexperienced gardeners. Their spidery leaves can thrive in almost any position with moderate humidity and air circulation, however they prefer well-lit areas away from direct sunshine. They should be watered often in the spring and autumn, twice or three times each week in the summer, and once a week in the winter. During the growth season, fertilize your plant every few weeks (spring and summer). It prefers temperatures ranging from 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, although it can tolerate lower temperatures. Don’t overwater them; remember, rain washed away the itchy-bitsy spider.

A Word To The Wise

Keep in mind that the term “nontoxic” means “not harmful,” not “bird treat.” Toys for children are nontoxic, but we do not reward them with a spoonful of Playdough when they have been good. If your bird has an odd, ravenous fascination with one of your plants, keep that plant out of reach of your bird — in the same place where all of your houseplants should be.

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