Pet Safe House Plants
Plants and pets are really quite similar when you think about it. Both are (usually) attractive, improve wellbeing, reduce stress, and can be fulfilling to look after. However, some houseplants can be toxic to pets and, of course, animal lovers want their pets to be able to safely live in harmony with their plants.
It isn’t always easy to tell if a houseplant is pet friendly and you don’t want to test it on your furry friend for obvious reasons – results could include irritation, burning, and vomiting. So if you’re just starting out on your plant journey or you’re looking to add some more greenery to your home, check out our pick of the top pet-friendly plants for inside the home. Read on to see Gardeners Dreams favourite pet-friendly houseplants, including plants for low light and north-facing homes.
Top Pet-Friendly Houseplants
Calathea Orbifolia (Peacock Plant)
Also known as the Peacock Plant (Prayer Plant), this is an attractive houseplant with foliage in shades of green and subtle silver. The large leaves droop over each other producing an interesting effect and the plant has air-purifying qualities to help keep your home allergy-free. This Prayer Plant loves indirect light and can handle some shade from time to time. Check out our other low-light indoor plants that will be happy sitting in a shaded corner.
Nephrolepis Bostoniensis (Boston Fern)
Better known as Boston or Sword Fern, this is a popular air-purifying plant with a fountain-like growth structure. It prefers a partially shaded spot and thrives in humidity, making it a perfect choice for bathrooms. This fern plant will be happy in direct sunlight or shade, making it great for beginners. You can place your Boston Fern into a hanging pot and let its
bushy foliage trail down as it grows.
Chlorophytum Variegatum (Spider Plant)
The good old spider plant has many qualities and being pet friendly is just one of them. Great for beginners, the spider plant is easy to care for, and, while some pets may find the long leaves fun to paw at and play with, they don’t contain any dangerous toxins. For a twist on the traditional Chlorophytum, take a look at the curly variety, which has all the same qualities but with a fresh curvy look. Our favourite low-maintenance houseplant at Gardeners Dream, the Spider Plant loves bright, indirect light to grow.
Pachira Aquatica (Money Tree)
This tropical-looking plant likes indirect light, making it ideal for almost any room in the house. As the name would suggest, this plant’s natural habitat is in the wetlands so it stores moisture in its braided trunk, making it a pretty low maintenance option. Pachira Aquatica is commonly known as a ‘Money Tree’ and is believed to bring good fortune to the homes they live in so make sure you buy that lottery ticket! This fast-growing tree can grow up to eight feet tall, so a regular prune in spring will keep it under control.
Beaucarenea (Ponytail Palm)
All palms are not equal when it comes to pet safety. However, one that is non-toxic to cats and dogs is the Ponytail Palm. This unusual plant has a bulbous-shaped base, which makes an interesting focal point and means it copes well with sporadic watering. It is easy to take care of and is well suited to a bright spot and cooler temperatures. Keep your Ponytail Palm out of humid spots, this plant enjoys dryer environments. Low maintenance and ideal for north-facing rooms, this is one of Gardeners Dreams favorite palm trees.
Some succulents, such as aloe vera, can be toxic to pets but fortunately many are harmless to our four-legged friends. Echeveria is generally safe and comes in different varieties with a range of shapes and colours, making them perfect to mix and match around the home. They even produce little baby plants, which are easy to separate and grow on their own. These nontoxic plants are low maintenance, making them ideal for beginners. Place them in bright, indirect light, and water them rarely.
This simple plant is also known as Cat Grass and is 100% cat friendly. In fact, you’ll probably find your cat is drawn to it. It is completely safe for cats to eat and is a great way of luring them away from other houseplants you don’t want to be nibbled. It’s easy to care for and low maintenance, just keep it out of bright, indirect light and water every few weeks.
How to Keep Pets Safe from Toxic Plants
You may already have toxic plants and be reluctant to dispose of them but there are some easy solutions to keep your cats and dogs safe.
The simplest way to keep pets safe is to keep toxic plants out of reach. This can be more straightforward with dogs than with cats, who have a knack for jumping onto higher surfaces. Many trailing plants, such as Devil’s Ivy can be dangerous for pets but look great in hanging baskets well out of reach.
Cats generally prefer smooth fine soils so adding stones or gravelto the pot will help deter them in a natural way. It’s worth noting that dogs are not as fussy and will happily dig around in gravel so this solution works best if you only have cats.
There are many scents that cats and dogs dislike but, while spraying with citrus or coffee granules may be an effective solution for outdoor plants, we wouldn’t recommend them for indoor use. Dogs have up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses while humans only have around 6million. Even if you can’t detect a scent from the other side of the room, it’s likely your dog can. Your home is also your pets’ home and obviously, you want them to feel comfortable.
Another option that may take more time but is definitely worthwhile is positive reinforcement. Whenever your pet gets a little too close to your plants, firmly say their name and the word ‘no’ (or whatever cue you want to use). When they move away from the area reward them with a treat, lots of affection, or their favourite toy. Repetition is key and your pets will soon learn that it’s better to steer clear of your foliage. Keeping a selection of
appropriate toys available to your pet may also provide a distraction and offer another way to occupy themselves instead of using your houseplants as playthings
Pet-Friendly Plant Families
There are some plant families that are pet friendly, giving you many more options for growing your indoor plant collection. The Prayer Plant family is all non-toxic for cats and dogs, and there are a lot to choose from! One of our favourites is the Calathea Insignis (Rattlesnake Plant), ideal for medium to low light rooms. Prayer Plants are low maintenance and shade tolerant, great for pets and gardeners alike.
Palm trees are commonly pet friendly, but it’s always best to check before buying. The Chamaedorea Elegans (Parlour Palm) is perfect for your furry friends, and it suits all types of homes. This palm tree will be happy in all light conditions and does not need much to thrive.
Many ferns are pet friendly, just make sure that they are a true fern and not a mix. The Pteris Ensiformis (Silver Lace Fern) is a great air purifying house plant that will look great in your home. Keep this fern plant in a shaded spot and only water every few weeks for it to flourish
Top tips for cats and dogs alike
We love our pets as much as we love our plants, so we like to take a mixed approach. Start off small, with a few pet-friendly indoor plants, and see how your cat or dog reacts. You can start adding in more plants as your pet becomes used to having them around.
When picking your next plant, make sure that it is not only pet friendly but also suits your home. Look for medium or low light house plants if you have a north-facing room. If you are looking for a plant that loves direct sunlight, find our leafy house plants to suit. Got a small space? Picking a plant that is a slow grower will be best, and if you are new to gardening, a low-maintenance plant is best.
We’ve got lots of guides on our Gardeners Dream blog to get you started, and tips for growing indoor and outdoor plants, including the best house plants for bathrooms and our favourite large house plants.