ZZ Plant Toxicity: What You Need to Know

The ZZ plant is highly popular to grow in your home because it is extremely low maintenance. You can let them grow freely in your house and be more focused on your other, more temperamental plants. However, many people wonder whether it’s worth buying a ZZ plant for your home due to its toxicity. If you have animals and small children at home, it makes sense to eliminate the risk, right?

ZZ plant toxicity is slightly concerning because too much exposure can lead to skin irritation. If you ingest it accidentally or if your children eat a leaf, it can lead to mild symptoms. However, evidence and research indicate that it is completely safe to have ZZ plants in your home despite their toxicity, even if you have children or animals at home.

Let’s explore everything you need to know about ZZ plant toxicity.

How Toxic are ZZ Plants?

Although ZZ plants are considered toxic, you need to understand that the definition is relative. It can create very mild symptoms of ill health if you are constantly in contact with them. However, the degree of toxicity in ZZ plants may cause some allergic reactions rather than anything poisonous or serious.

You can certainly find many types of toxic plants with higher levels of toxicity that are commonly kept in homes. These are typically only grown by plant enthusiasts who are well-educated on various plant species. If you know what you’re doing when looking after your plants, you will not make any mistakes that could prove to be harmful.

However, for your average homeowner and plant enthusiast, ZZ plants are relatively safe. Their bad reputation comes from a chemical they produce called calcium oxalate, which is known to irritate the skin. You can find this chemical in every part of the plant’s structure, meaning it is not entirely safe. If you’re willing to deal with minor allergies and slight discomfort from excessive contact or ingestion of your ZZ plant, you can grow it in your home.

Many people like the aesthetics of the ZZ plant, and its low maintenance makes it an appealing choice for many homeowners.

Are ZZ Plants Toxic Enough to Harm Humans?

One of the major reasons why people don’t want to grow ZZ plants in their homes is because they have small children and pets. Pets are always sniffing things in your home, and you cannot supervise your children all day long. If your child manages to eat your ZZ plant or rub their fingers in their eyes after touching it excessively, it could have some detrimental effects. As a parent, you may feel like it’s your responsibility to keep your home a safe environment for everyone. As such, even if ZZ plants only produce mild symptoms of ill health, you may not want to grow them inside.

Now, you may be wondering how toxic ZZ plants are to humans. In most instances of handling ZZ plants, you might notice your skin has gone red. Some people might even feel a painful rash, which is something to consider. This skin issue can be easily remedied by placing the ZZ plant somewhere your children can’t reach easily and using gloves the next time you decide to repot it. If you rub your eyes after handling your ZZ plant, you will start to feel itchy and watery. In some cases, you may also feel a burning sensation that can be uncomfortable to deal with.

Some people have reported that they started vomiting or had diarrhea from ingesting a ZZ plant. This is a cause for concern since you don’t want your children to develop these symptoms. Since the calcium oxalate is comprised of tiny crystals with jagged edges, it can lead to irritation and inflammation due to the micro tears it causes from contact. Despite this issue, many people choose to get these plants because they are confident that no one will ingest these plants. Moreover, they can explain the ZZ plant’s toxicity to their children and make it a lesson for them to learn.

Many people base their opinions on false scientific data and myths. However, the false evidence has been disproven, and there are no serious consequences from ingesting or coming in contact with the ZZ plant.

How Unsafe is the ZZ Plant to Touch?

If you have a plant in your home, you expect to touch it without experiencing any problems. Even if you experience mild symptoms, such as red skin or slight itchiness, why would you keep such a plant in your home? If you need to care for your ZZ plant, you have to touch it. You may also have to prune it at some point to control its growth, which requires touching. However, since the ZZ plant produces a waxy cuticle that coats much of the plant’s structure, you can stay protected from calcium oxalate.

Unless you come in contact with the sap, you can rest assured that the ZZ plant is completely safe to touch. When you’re handling your ZZ plant, you should typically wear protective gloves just to be on the safe side. Some people are fairly tolerant of sap and may not experience any symptoms at all. Others may have a mild reaction to it, which could be avoided through proper handling and preventive care.

Are Your Pets Safe from the ZZ Plant?

You may be wondering if the rules surrounding the ZZ plant are different for your pets. The short answer is that your pets will be fairly safe even if they nibble a portion of a ZZ plant in your home. Since all of the plant varieties are considered toxic, you can’t get away with choosing a ZZ plant with zero toxicity. Still, your pets may develop mild symptoms similar to humans. However, these are not a major cause for concern and would not harm your pet seriously.

It is worth noting that in some instances, your pet may develop a stomach ache from ingesting the ZZ plant. They may also exhibit the same extreme symptoms as humans in some cases, such as diarrhea. If you notice any severe symptoms that do not get better, you should call the veterinarian straight away.

Ways to Stay Safe with a ZZ Plant in Your Home

As we’ve discussed in this article, your ZZ plant is not as toxic as stories and myths make it out to be. However, we’ve also pointed out that the ZZ plant can lead to severe symptoms in some cases, such as vomiting and diarrhea. At the end of the day, it is up to you how much risk you’re willing to take in your home. If you have children and pets, you may not want to risk them developing any symptoms of discomfort. However, if you love growing ZZ plants, you can take precautionary measures to stay safe in your home.

Minimize your Exposure

One of the best ways to stay safe with a ZZ plant in your home is to minimize your exposure to it. If you need to handle its repotting or pruning, you should wear gloves to prevent yourself from coming into contact with it. If you accidentally touch the sap, you should wash your hands straight away. By following these steps to minimize your exposure, you will stay safe with a ZZ plant in your home.

Keep it in a Hard to Reach Spot

If you have pets or children in your home, you should aim to keep your ZZ plant out of their reach. Put the plant on a high shelf instead of placing it near the window. However, your pets may be more acrobatic, especially if you have cats. Cats are incredibly curious and may be found nibbling things they have no business nibbling. If you’re concerned about your cats’ well-being, you can place pungent-smelling odors near the plant to prevent them from coming any closer.

For example, coffee grounds and citrus peels are enough to deter most cats and keep them away from your ZZ plant. Similarly, a vinegar solution is also a highly effective deterrent for your pets since they do not like the smell it produces. Spraying it onto the plant is perfectly okay since your ZZ plant will not react poorly to it. The odor it produces will work its magic in keeping your pets away.

Final Verdict

ZZ plants are known to be toxic. However, their toxicity levels are highly exaggerated, and they are mostly safe to keep in your home. You can come into contact with your ZZ plant and develop mild symptoms that are not a cause for concern.

In some cases, you may experience severe reactions, such as vomiting or diarrhea, if you accidentally consume your ZZ plant. Similarly, if you come into contact with its sap, you can develop a painful rash, which is not uncommon. As long as you prioritize proper care and follow the safety steps laid out in this article while understanding the effects of the ZZ plant, you can grow it safely in your home.