African Violet: This popular blooming plant falls under the influence of the planet Venus. Its five petals make it a goddess flower and, as with most other purplish-blue flowers, it is sacred to Aphrodite/Venus. The violet is an excellent plant to add to faery charms and spells. The violet protects against faery mischief and promotes spirituality. Care tip: Always water your African violets from the bottom to help keep water off the leaves. If you fertilize your African violets with African violet fertilizer (this special type of fertilizer is typically high in phosphorus), they will bloom regularly. The African violet is nontoxic.
Aloe: The aloe vera or "burn plant" is a handy plant to have in the kitchen. The sap inside of the plant is great for soothing minor skin irritations such as insect bites, sunburn, and minor burns. This plant is aligned with the moon and is also used magickally for its protective properties. The aloe helps to ward the home from negativity and to help prevent accidents. This would be a great plant to work with in healing and protective spells. The aloe plant is described as having low toxicity if eaten and, according to the friendly folks at the Poison Control Hotline, has an "unwanted laxative effect." Also, some folks with extremely sensitive skin may develop contact dermatitis from the aloe gel (sap) inside the plant. This is usually mild and does not last long.
Cacti: These plants are ruled by Mars; they are protective and may be used to keep burglars out of your home. Keep these spiny plants well out of reach of pets and children. Care tip: These plants need high light intensities and are not suited for growing under artificial lights. Keep these babies exposed to direct sunlight and away from drafts and colder temperatures. Poison information will vary greatly, due to the vast array of cacti that are available.
Cyclamen: A popular blooming plant that is often given as a gift. The cyclamen corresponds to the planet of Venus and is sacred to the goddess Hecate. This plant may be worked into love and fertility spells. Placed in the bedroom, it encourages passion and fertility. Available in many colors, try the purple blooms for passion, the red for lust, and the white for fruitfulness. In the language of flowers, the cyclamen signifies voluptuousness. Care tip: Cyclamens will only bloom once. If you care to try and make it re-bloom, it needs to go through a long dormant period—not unlike a poinsettia—before it will re-bloom. The cyclamen is toxic if large quantities of the plant are eaten.
Fern: This plant has been popular since Victorian times and is a staple on Southern covered porches. There is something old-fashioned about hanging potted ferns on porches. The fern is aligned with the planet Mercury and is a faery favorite. The fronds of the fern are protective and boost the magickal significance of any fresh flower they are arranged with. The seeds from the fern were believed to grant the power of invisibility, and when the fronds are burned on an outdoor fire they are supposed to draw rain. Adding potted ferns to your outdoor room will encourage protection, good luck, and health. Care tip: Ferns are durable houseplants that tolerate low light but will perform better in medium light. Keep ferns cool and moist. If the leaves become brown-edged, then your ferns are telling you that they need more humidity—which takes the mystery right out of why they thrive on covered porches in the South. Some types of perennial ferns that are grown in outdoor gardens are actually edible. However, there are dozens of fern varieties to choose from; typically they are listed as having low toxicity levels. But better safe than sorry—find out the botanical name of your fern and double check.
Fig: The weeping fig (or, as it is more commonly known, the ficus tree) is a large and popular houseplant. Figs need filtered light and are happiest once they find a good growing spot to be left in that space. Turning them is important but moving a fig suddenly into a different light level will cause many of its leaves to drop. The fig was thought to guard against hunger and poverty and is associated with the planet Jupiter. The traditional fig tree is sacred to Isis, Juno, and Dionysus. This tree encourages fertility and safe travel.
Ivy: The protective ivy corresponds to the planet Saturn and is sacred to Dionysus and Bacchus. Care tip: The ivy is a good medium- to bright-light level houseplant. They need to stay well watered and prefer cool places. In the language of flowers the ivy signifies faithfulness and fertility. The berries of the common ivy Hedera helix (English ivy) are poisonous. The leaves are listed as toxic as well. This variety of ivy is typically grown outdoors. However, I would keep ivy leaves well away from curious, nibbling pets. A bite or two of an ivy leaf from a dog or cat shouldn't be an issue, but if they eat a good amount I would contact the vet.
Orchids: Here's a tropical and romantic blooming plant to try. The orchid is associated with the planet Venus and is used in love charms and sachets. The roots of the orchid were also used for love spells. In flower folklore, the orchid symbolizes luxury and love, refinement and nobility; the Phalaenopsis orchid symbolizes an enchanted evening. Orchids can be tough to grow in the average home environment. Care tip: Mature plants need bright light for best growth and flowering. Plan on investing in a grow light for orchids. A few species of orchids do perform better in a home setting than others, such as the Epidendrum, Paphiopedilum, Brassavola, and Phalaenopsis species.
Palms: The palm is a solar plant associated with the following deities: Apollo, Artemis, Hecate, and Isis. A fertility symbol, the palm—when grown as a houseplant—is thought to repel all unwanted astral nasties, spooks, and bad vibes. The palm is capable of putting off some very protective vibrations. Try placing one in a well-used room with medium light for best results. Palms grow very slowly indoors. Again, this poison information will vary widely, depending on the species. Many common varieties are nontoxic and a few have low toxicity levels.
Peace Lily (spathiphyllum): The peace lily is a popular houseplant. Work with this plant to encourage loving, comforting, and harmonious vibrations in the home. These plants adapt well to low light, but need medium light if you want them to flower. Care tip: Their white anthurium-looking flowers are long lasting. Keep the peace lily well watered and turn it to promote even growth. The peace lily is toxic if eaten, and if consumed in large quantities it can cause severe mouth pain and vomiting. Keep away from children and pets!
Spider Plant: This easy-to-grow plant promotes protection. Try striped varieties to encourage boundaries and solid green varieties to encourage protection and healing. Great for hanging baskets, consider moving one out onto your patio, deck, or porch this summer. Care tip: These plants tolerate low light but will do their best in medium light situations. Keep these plants well watered and away from pets who like chewing on the dangling shoots. They are just too tempting to resist. The good news is that this plant is considered nontoxic.
Excerpted from Cottage Witchery, by Ellen Dugan