Jennifer Wilber is a life-long animal lover. She currently has two black cats and has had many dogs and small pets throughout her life.
Pet-Friendly House Plants
It is possible for pets and plants to coexist in the same home. While you should try to keep your plants away from your pet’s reach, accidents can always happen. To keep your furry friends safe from potential poisoning from toxic plants, keep only non-toxic plants in your home if you have cats or dogs.
Spider plants are one of the most popular pet-friendly houseplants. They are easy to care for and are tolerant of many different types of light. They frequently sprout baby plants as offsets that can be removed and propagated into whole new plants. This plant is thought to be especially proficient at purifying the air.
Polka Dot Plant
Polka dot plants are beautifully unique, pet-safe houseplants with pink and green foliage featuring a characteristic polka dot pattern. It should be noted however that, even though this plant is non-toxic, it may trigger mild digestive upset in particularly sensitive pets if ingested in very large quantities.
Boston ferns are a highly popular houseplant that are widely available at most garden centers and big-box home improvement stores. This non-toxic, pet-safe houseplant prefers high humidity and bright indirect light, making it the perfect plant to keep in the bathroom. It is also a common choice for hanging baskets on patios, though it needs to be brought indoors during the winter in USDA hardiness zones below 9.
Venus flytraps are very unique meat-eating houseplants. Though these carnivorous plants can be quite dangerous to flies and other flying insects, they are perfectly harmless to cats and dogs. These plants do require a bit more specialized care than many other houseplants. They need distilled water to survive, as the minerals in regular tap water will eventually kill them (I use water drained from my central air system). They also require lots of bright light.
Holiday cacti, including Thanksgiving cactus, Christmas cactus, and Easter cactus, are all safe to keep indoors around pets. These easy-to-care-for succulents are excellent pet-friendly houseplants to add a bit of color to your holiday décor. They are a great alternative to other holiday plants that can be extremely toxic to pets, such as lilies, poinsettias, and holly.
Parlor palms are a perfect house plant to coexist with your parlor panther (or any other fluffy pet!) This woody, shrub-like houseplant has numerous slender stems topped with palm-like leaves and is non-toxic to cats and dogs. It is found growing natively in the warm, dense, and humid rain forests of Mexico and Guatemala, but grows well as a houseplant in colder climates. Other names for this plant include “Neanthe palm” and “Neanthe Bella palm.”
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Orchids are iconic flowering plants with large vivid blooms. There are thousands of different species of orchids, so it is hard to know for sure if every single one of them is completely non-toxic, but you’ll be glad to know that the most commonly available varieties of these popular flowers, including Phalaenopsis orchids, are safe to have around cats and dogs.
Air plants, or tillandsia, are another very unique pet-friendly house plant. Unlike most houseplants you’ll encounter, air plants require no soil. Instead, these plants take in moisture from the air through specialized cells in their leaves. Air plants are epiphytes, which means that they are found in the wild growing on other plants. They use their roots to attach to trees high in the humid rain forest canopy. Because your home is likely much less humid than their native environment, they still need to be watered occasionally. Do this by dunking the plant in a bowl of water and letting it sit for about an hour. Shake off the excess water and let them dry sitting upside down until completely dry.
True bamboo, Phyllostachys aurea, is non-toxic and safe to have around cats and dogs. Be careful, however, as there are plenty of bamboo look-a-likes and plants that have “bamboo” in their name that are, in fact, poisonous to cats and dogs. It is always important to make sure you know exactly what plant species you have, and whether or not it is safe to have near your pets. Dangerous “bamboo” plants to avoid include lucky bamboo (Dracaena spp) and heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica).
If you want your plants and pets to coexist peacefully in your home, why not get your fur baby a plant of their very own? A container of cat grass is the perfect way to show your cat that you care about them. Giving them their own plant to nom on may even distract them from nibbling on your own beloved houseplants. There are even special cat grass growing kits available that let you grow your own cat grass from seed.
Some Plants to Avoid
The following is a list of common houseplants that are poisonous and should be avoided if you have pets:
- Lilies - extremely poisonous to cats
- Peace Lily - toxic to cats and dogs
- Fiddle leaf fig - toxic to dogs
- Philodendron - toxic to cats and dogs
- Zamioculcas zamiifolia - toxic to cats and dogs
- Aloe - harmless for humans, poisonous to cats and dogs
- Bird of paradise plant - toxic to cats and dogs
- Dumb cane - toxic to cats and dogs
- Sago palm - toxic to cats and dogs
- Alocasia - toxic to cats and dogs
- Cyclamen - toxic to cats and dogs
- Caladium - toxic to cats and dogs
- Mothers-in-Law tongue (snake plant) - toxic to cats and dogs
A Final Word
This list is by no means exhaustive. If you have acquired a new plant or are thinking about adding new houseplants to your home decor, be sure to know exactly what plant you are dealing with and research it to be completely sure that it is safe for your furry friends. Otherwise, it is always best to be safe rather than sorry so it is a good idea to keep plants in locations where your pet can’t get to it. Even if a plant is non-toxic, you should try to keep it away from your pets, just to keep the plant safe from them!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jennifer Wilber
Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 21, 2021:
Very interesting and good read. Thanks for sharing.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 21, 2021:
It's interesting to know what plants to avoid too. I love bamboo plants.