Is Cordyline Fruticosa Poisonous to Dogs?

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Keep your best friend away from your Cordyline fruticosa.
Keep your best friend away from your Cordyline fruticosa. (Image: Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Ti plants (Cordyline fruticosa or terminalis) add tropical beauty to almost any landscape -- indoors or out. Desirable for their colorful foliage, sweet-smelling flowers and hardy nature, ti plants are often grown as indoor plants because of their ability to tolerate low-light conditions. Home gardeners who have dogs, however, might think twice about cultivating this attractive shrub -- they are poisonous to dogs.

Tasty Treat...

Native to Southeast Asia, the ti plant was probably passed around the Pacific by early Polynesians, who likely ate the starchy rhizomes. Today in Hawaii the roots are steamed before eaten, and meats and other foods are often wrapped in the plant's leaves and then roasted or steamed, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The leaves of the plant are also used to make hulu skirts.

...Or Toxic Ti?

Although people eat it, you don't want Spot snacking on any part of this plant. The ti plant contains saponins, which can cause vomiting in cats and dogs -- sometimes bloody -- excessive saliva, depression and loss of appetite. If you think your dog has ingested some of this plant, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

Environmental Conditions

Cordyline fruticosa is an evergreen shrub that can grow to maximum heights and widths of about 15 and 8 feet respectively. Outdoor plants are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12. Because they are sensitive to cold, ti plants are often grown indoors in containers. Container plants, whether indoors or out, will be limited in size by the container, making them easier to move. Placing your plant in a container may allow you to move it out of reach of your curious pooch, keeping him safe from harm.

Culture and Care

These plants grow best in well-draining locations or in a planting medium that has a high percentage of peat moss to aid in drainage. Outdoors, it thrives in full sun or partial shade. Indoors, it prefers bright but indirect light. The ti plant will develop its brightest colors in full sunlight, but will need more water when located in full sun. Water is important for these plants -- the soil should be kept moist, and they need high humidity -- especially indoors. Placing a potted plant on top of a tray of moist pebbles will help it grow.

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