If you’re like me, you love your fur babies and your plant babies, but sometimes the two just don’t mix.
Especially if you have a cat like Hettie who treats her owner Michele’s maidenhair fern like her own private salad bar! Luckily for Hettie and Michele, the maidenhair is not toxic to cats. But there are many common houseplants that are. While some can be fatal, most are not and will just make Fido of Fluffy not feel so good. And nothing’s worse than a sick baby fur or otherwise.
While there are a lot of common houseplants that are toxic to pets and at times you may feel that you can’t have any plants in your home, don’t despair, there are also quite a few that are pet friendly and easy to grow!
Hopefully your cat or dog has no interest in your plants, but for the ones that do, here is a list of Foliage Friends and Foes. By all means, this list is not complete and there are many more choices out there.
FOLIAGE FRIENDS– The more the merrier!
Spider plants are one of the easiest plants to grow are often known as an “unkillable”.While not quite true they are tough little buggers! And when happy, they produce babies! Mini-plants that sprout from the main plant which you can transplant into other pots. Because they’re so easy to grow and care for, spider plants are an excellent pet-friendly choice.
One of the most popular flowering houseplants is an oldie but goodie. And if you think they are just for grandma, give them a try, you may just fall in love with them. Due to their ability to bloom in low light and their affinity for the same environmental conditions that we like they, make an ideal houseplant which will bloom consistently throughout the year.
Truth be told, succulents are not always as easy to grow as you are led to believe but there are a few that are super easy and survive in a range of conditions. The Haworthia is one of these. Low-maintenance, good looking and pet friendly! What more can you ask for?!
Also known as the butterfly palm any interior feel like a piece of the tropics. However their fronds can be quite attractive to cats as a plaything so it's comforting to know that the areca palm isn't toxic for cats or dogs. Bonus Points, they are also great at purifying the air inside your home! Place it in a bright room, and allow soildry out between waterings.
Venus Fly Trap
Carnivorous plants make a fun and funky addition to a houseplant collection. Not only is this plant pet-friendly, it’s also super low maintenance. Keep your Venus flytrap thriving by placing it somewhere that gets a few hours of direct sunlight and watering it with distilled water. Flytraps are native to bogs and love to be consistently moist which means you can have them sitting in a tray of water so they don’t dry out. Placing it on a porch is ideal, as it can feed itself with flies that just happen to visit. It needs only one to two insects per month to sustain itself. When insects are scarce you can feel these guys a little steak tartar, aka raw beef.
As far as I know, most ferns are pet friendly. Just ask Hettie. There are a wide variety of ferns that do well as houseplants and they all tend to need pretty much the same conditions; bright indirect light, consistent watering and some humidity. Some of my favorites are the Bird’s Nest Fern, staghorn fern, button fern, Boston fern, rabbit’s foot fern, heart leafed fern and of course the maidenhair.
Large houseplants like the weeping fig make a bold statement in the home but are toxic to cats and dogs. However, the banana tree (Musa) is a dramatic accent plant that is safe for all pets. Rich soil, bright light, and regular watering will emulate the natural habitat of the banana tree.
Legend has it that the money tree will bring you good luck and good fortune. This is especially true for your pets if they like to eat your houseplants. Luckily these guys won’t harm them.
Chinese Money Plant
The Pilea genus contains several popular and attractive plants, including the variegated aluminum plant, the easy-to-propagate friendship plant and the trendy Chinese money plant. These plants are considered non-toxic to cats and dogs and like a lot of indirect light. Unfortunately, as with the money tree, they don’t actually grow money. There goes my idea of having a money farm!
At one time the orchid plant was only found in the wild or in collector’s and horticulturist’s gardens and greenhouses. Now days, they can be found pretty much everywhere. There is even a good chance that you have one or two in your plant collection so it’s good to know that they are a safe bet if you also have pets. Many orchids bloom for weeks or months in the winter when days are short, thriving in partial light and root-bound conditions.
The diversity of colors and textures across the Peperomia species keeps them on the shortlist of popular houseplants. They are non-toxic to cats and dogs, look great in hanging baskets, and don't mind if you forget to water occasionally.
Other pet friendly plants are…
Polka Dot Plant
Pony tail palm
Purple Waffle Plant
Royal Velvet Plant
FOLIAGE FOES- Plants to Avoid
The following houseplants do offer lots of advantages and are commonly grown by many gardeners, but they are poisonous to your animals and if you keep pets you should exercise caution. Should you choose to cultivate these plants in your home, make sure and keep them out of the reach of anything furry and you’ll keep your animals safe.
Spathiphyllum or Peace Lily
The Peace Lily is a super common easy to grow houseplant with deep green leaves and white flowers and can bloom throughout the year.
Unfortunately, the peace lily is poisonous to dogs and cats, especially the Mauna Loa variety. This large cultivar, which can grow up to two feet, causes irritation around the contacted area and will induce vomiting in animals if ingested. They’re particularly dangerous to cats, and can even cause kidney failure, so if you must grow them, definitely make sure to keep them in a protected area of your home.
This brightly colored tropical bloomer brings a welcome dose of color to your grey winter. Along with its vibrant flowers, many varieties have beautifully colored and patterned leaves making it a fun and interesting houseplant.
Cyclamens grow from tubers,(think tiny potato) and it is these tubers that make cyclamen plants dangerous to pets. If your dog or cat eats any part of these tubers, it can cause vomiting or diarrhea. Consumed in large quantities, they can even cause fatal seizures.
The aloe makes a great houseplant for a sunny window and also has a lot of positive medicinal uses (growing up we called them ‘burn plants’ since the gel from its leaves helps soothe sun and other burns), can paradoxically be quite toxic if your pets eat it. The healing properties of aloe are matched by its unfortunate danger—pets who consume aloe experience stomach trouble and vomiting.
While mostly grown outdoors in your shade garden, caladiums can also make a lovely houseplant. Its heart-shaped leaves can be quite showy and make the plant ideal as a focal piece, but if ingested they will cause severe irritation and pain as well as digestive trouble.
Also known as dumbcanes are wonderful variegated tropical plants with green and white patterns all over their large leaves. There are many different cultivars available making them a striking addition to your plant collection. While they can thrive with only minimal care they are poisonous if eaten. While not deadly, they will however cause your pet a lot of grief. They cause irritation and swelling around pets’ mouths if ingested, along with some vomiting and lots of pain.
The sago palm is favorites of landscapers in warmer climates but can be found as a houseplant in colder areas of the country. Usually pets don’t find it attractive, but if yours is the exception and has a tendency to bite or chew just anything, then this plant can be dangerous. It contains a toxin called cycasin, which is known to cause liver damage. The Sago palm is also poisonous to cattle so to be on the safe side, keep your cows out of the house!
These beautiful striking plants are super trendy right now. Native to Asia and tropical regions of the western pacific and eastern Australia if eaten, they can cause mucous membrane irritation, intense burning, and irritation of the mouth, lips, and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing.
The arrowhead plant comes from the tropical areas of Central America and the Northern areas of South America and is a common houseplant but leaves and stems contain calcium oxalate in its sap, which is harmful if contacted or ingested.
A super popular cut flower and garden plant and while not usually grown as a houseplant, you may receive one as a gift plant. No matter, they are very poisonous, especially to cats.
Not really a lily but Calla lilies, as beautiful as they are, are also poisonous plants for dogs and cats. Though not fatal, they will cause your pet distress and discomfort.
Bird of Paradise
The bird of paradise is a beautiful ornamental plant native to South Africa. While mainly a garden plant it can be grown as an indoor plant, usually the white bird of paradise. It contains Hydrogen Cyanide which can cause mild nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, difficulty in breathing, loss of appetite and even death.
The ZZ plant can endure low light and drought, (it actually prefers to be on the dry side) and is perfect for the neglectful plant owner. Luckily it is only mildly toxic to pets and doesn’t possess a serious threat.
This stalwart is such a low care houseplant that even a non grower can grow it happily, as long as they don't over water it. While this tropical tree from Africa appears on many lists of poisonous houseplants, it is only mildly toxic.
Kafir Lily or Clivia
Kafir lily is an exquisite plant with long strap-like leaver and produces beautiful orange flowers. Also not a true lily but it is still highly toxic, especially to cats. Its ingestion can cause kidney failure.
While it is an excellent house plant that can be grown in a variety of indoor conditions, the pothos is mildly toxic to pets.
What’s not to love about this easy to grow and brightly blooming plant? Everything except that this guy contains a naturally occurring poison that affects the heart. And not in a good way.
Also called weeping fig, this common and beautiful house plant can cause indigestion and skin inflammation if eaten or if your pet comes in contact with its milky sap. Same goes for the Rubber Tree and other varieties of Ficus including the super popular Fiddle Leaf Fig. Sorry guys!
This beautiful yet very invasive in some areas, this ivy is also poisonous. Another good reason not to grow it.
Another popular yet poisonous plant that belongs to Araceae family. Others include the previously mentioned Dieffenbachia, Calla lily, Arrowhead, Peace Lily, Philodendron, Pothos, Elephant’s Ear, and Chinese Evergreen.
While oleander is grown mainly as a garden or landscaping plant in milder climates, they are sometimes grown as houseplants. This guy is not only highly poisonous to pets, but people too! So keep it outside and on someone else’s property.
This stunning holiday favorite belongs to the lily family, but it is mildly poisonous when compared to other lilies like the Easter lily, day lily, Asiatic lily, oriental lily and flame lily. Still keep out of reach of pets, and children for that matter.
The begonia is one of the most attractive plants you can grow indoors. But it is mildly toxic to house critters.
For those with sunny window sills, Cacti are great choice, especially if you always forget to water your plants. Most of the plants in this family are toxic but the biggest potential danger is their thorns and spikes. Hopefully one painful encounter will deter any curious pet from going near these guys again.
When it comes to one of the easiest houseplants around, the philodendron shines. However it is mildly toxic.
Other toxic plants
To learn more about toxic and non-toxic houseplants for both cats and dogs, the ASPCA is an excellent resource.
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