When you’re a pet owner and a plant lover, it’s essential to ensure that your leafy companions are not toxic to your four-legged friends. Not all houseplants are safe for pets; some can cause digestive issues, respiratory distress, and other health problems if ingested. Thankfully, there are plenty of non-toxic options to choose from.
Let’s explore a selection of houseplants that are safe for both dogs and cats, so that you can maintain a lush environment while keeping your pets happy and healthy.
10 Houseplants Safe for Dogs and Cats
1. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
One of the most popular houseplants, the spider plant is a perennial herbaceous plant native to tropical and southern Africa. It features long, slender, arching leaves that are green with white stripes running down the centre. As the plant matures, it sends out offshoots or “pups” on long stems that dangle and can be used for propagation. The spider plant is tolerant of a variety of conditions but prefers well-draining soil, indirect light, and regular watering. Its long, arching leaves and baby plantlets make it an attractive choice for hanging baskets.
2. Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
Originating from Madagascar, the Areca palm boasts feathery, arching fronds that grow atop slender trunks. As it matures, the lower fronds can be removed to reveal its bamboo-like stems. The Areca palm is known for its air-purifying qualities and appreciates bright, indirect light. Regular watering with well-drained soil is ideal for this tropical beauty.
3. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Ferns can be a mixed bag when it comes to pet safety, but the Boston Fern is a safe choice. This fern is native to tropical regions around the world. Boston Ferns have feathery, green fronds that gracefully drape downward, making them perfect for hanging baskets (which could be handy if you’re into house cats like Siamese or Persians). They thrive in humid conditions, so frequent misting or placement in a bathroom can be beneficial. They prefer moist, rich soil and indirect light.
Calatheas are native to the tropical Americas and are celebrated for their ornate, patterned foliage that can feature combinations of greens, purples, and pinks. The plant’s leaves move in response to light, lifting during the day and relaxing at night. Calatheas enjoy high humidity, well-draining soil, and indirect light.
5. Barberton Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
This bright and cheerful flowering plant is not just safe for pets; it’s also known to purify the air. Originating from South Africa, Barberton Daisy features rosette-shaped leaves from which long stalks emerge, topped with bright, cheerful daisy-like flowers. The flowers come in shades of yellow, orange, pink, and red. The plant enjoys well-draining soil and bright, indirect sunlight.
6. Maranta (Prayer Plant)
Native to the tropical regions of Brazil, the Maranta features broad, flat leaves with intricate patterns and hues of green, red, and cream. Due to their leaves’ nocturnal movement, they are commonly referred to as “Prayer Plants.” They flourish in well-draining soil, high humidity, and indirect light.
Hailing from southern Africa, Haworthias are succulents characterised by their thick, fleshy leaves that often grow in a rosette pattern. The leaves can be translucent or dotted with white patterns. They require minimal water, making sure the soil dries out between watering sessions, and they appreciate bright, indirect light. They’re often mistaken for aloe, which is not pet-safe, but haworthias have smoother leaves and are non-toxic.
8. Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
Native to Brazil’s coastal mountains, this cactus has segmented, flat stems and blooms profusely around the holiday season with tubular flowers in shades of pink, red, purple, yellow, or white. Unlike desert cacti, it prefers humidity, well-draining yet moisture-retentive soil, and indirect light.
9. African Violet (Saintpaulia)
These petite plants, native to Tanzania and Kenya, feature fuzzy, round leaves and produce small, velvety flowers in shades of purple, blue, pink, or white. They thrive in a humid environment, with well-draining soil. They are safe for pets and prefer bright, indirect light.
10. Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
This small shrub, originating from Madagascar, boasts pointed leaves splashed with vibrant shades of pink, red, or white, giving it its “polka-dotted” nickname. The more light it receives, the brighter its coloration. It prefers moist soil and bright, indirect sunlight but can tolerate some shade.
Some Tips for Pet Owners with Houseplants:
- Placement: Even if a plant is non-toxic, some pets might be allergic or have a sensitive stomach. It’s a good idea to keep plants out of reach if your pet is overly curious.
- Avoid Pesticides: If you’re treating your plants for pests, ensure the products used are pet-safe. Some chemicals can be harmful if ingested.
- Watch for Signs: If your pet does munch on a plant, watch for signs of distress such as drooling, vomiting, or diarrhoea. While the plant may be non-toxic, it can still cause stomach upset.
- Pet-Safe Fertilisers: When fertilising your plants, ensure the products used are safe for pets. Organic and natural fertilisers are often a better choice.
There are plenty of houseplants that are both aesthetically pleasing and safe for our furry friends. By doing your research and being mindful of placement, you can create a lush indoor garden without compromising your pet’s safety. Always consult with a veterinarian if you’re unsure or if your pet shows signs of illness after interacting with a plant.