Andrea helps people design their homes and gardens. She likes to use Western Astrology and the Chinese Zodiac to help build templates.
Houseplants That Are Safe for Cats
I know it can be challenging to have a household with both cats and plants. Cats are notoriously bad about eating plants, and unfortunately, many plants are poisonous to them.
Before you buy a plant and add it to your home, make sure to check out whether it will be toxic for your animal(s). I encourage you to look at multiple sources before buying a new plant.
Cats love to nibble on shrubs, succulents, and flowers, so you should expect that they'll do this to your plants. Some plants are sturdy and can handle a cat messing with them, other plants are more delicate. Roses are safe for cats, but you'll have to cut off the thorns.
I have 20 suggestions for you on what plants to buy that are feline friendly.
1. Spider Plant
This lovely and simple plant will tolerate a range of light, moisture, and soil conditions. Other names for the plant: "spider ivy" and "ribbon plant". It is an evergreen perennial flowering plant. Its needs are simple: place it in a spot with moderate to bright light, keep it at room temperature, water it once a week from spring to summer. Let the soil dry a bit more in winter.
Added bonus: this plant absorbs carbon dioxide and removes toxins like formaldehyde and xylene.
The plant is appropriate for a home with cats and/or dogs.
2. African Violets
The purple beauties are perfect on shelves. The plant enjoys moderate to bright light, but it doesn't need direct sunlight. I would recommend a northeast or north-facing window. They're perfect flora for grow lights.
Keep the soil moist with lukewarm water, and African violets thrive in humid locations. Top it with water at least once a month. The purple blooms don't enjoy misting. Coffee grounds are a great homemade fertilizer for the plant.
3. Sword Fern
An evergreen fern native to North America. These woodland greens like moist and shady locations. They need good drainage. They can thrive in direct sunlight if there is plenty of moisture. Sword ferns are well suited for bathrooms. Moisture from showers and sinks keeps them hydrated and happy.
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4. Prayer Plant
The leaves at sundown look like hands in prayer. They have zigzag striped leaves with hints of white. The plant with a spiritual side likes well-drained soil; it requires high humidity to thrive. They should be kept moist, not soggy. Use warm water, and feed every two weeks. This is another plant that will do well in the bathroom where they get full shade and high humidity.
5. Areca Palm
If you're wanting a large plant that makes a statement and won't hurt your pets, Areca Palm might be just what you need. It thrives in indirect light.
Before you get too excited, this is a somewhat challenging plant; it will get upset with you if you neglect it. It'll turn brown if you overwater or underwater it. It also gets fussy if: it doesn't get enough light or too much light, not enough humidity, overfertilizing it, when pests invade, and a whole bunch of other scenarios.
It's probably not the best plant to buy for first-time houseplant gardeners.
6. Parlor Palm
Adorably cute and one of the most heavily sold indoor palm plants in the world. It thrives in medium to bright indirect light and can tolerate low light. It needs water every one to two weeks. Let the soil dry out before watering again. Parlor palms love humidity, so you could put one in your bathroom. It doesn't tolerate frost. It prefers temperatures around 65 to 80°F. Don't place the plant near drafty windows and outside doors.
Remove dust from the plant. You can do this by misting it three to four times a week. This will help prevent spider mite attacks.
7. Ponytail Palm
Not a palm and not a tree. It's a succulent! The ponytail palm is slow-growing, tolerant to drought, and doesn't need a lot of care. This plant is ideal for people who have to travel regularly or just don't like plants with strict rules.
Ponytail palms are best suited in spots where they can get plenty of light. They don't do well directly in the sun. Place them in a sunny room with low humidity. Water it when it is very dry, about once every two weeks. The plant is susceptible to root rot, so don't overwater it. If there is moisture in the soil, it doesn't need more water.
Remove the brown fronds; they won't turn green again.
8. Money Tree
They say money doesn't grow on trees, but this tree might buck that trend. It's popular among feng shui enthusiasts. The money tree is also called Malabar chestnut, French peanut, Guiana chestnut, Provision tree, and Saba nut (among other names).
The money tree is said to bring good luck to those who care for it. They're super easy to maintain. They can make a recovery if you neglect them for a while. The plant is a good air purifier; it prefers spaces with ample sunlight.
Water your money tree when the soil is about 50%-75% dry. To prevent root rot: remove any standing water.
For a pop of color and whimsy in your house, opt for bromeliads. You need to provide it with plenty of sunshine and lots of humidity. Air must be flowing around the plant. It should be moist, not soggy. You'll water it about every other week.
To remove a retired bloom, use a sharp blade and cut the bloom stalk. Avoid cutting into the remaining plant or harming it. Once the spent bloom has been cut out, you can throw it away or use it as compost. The plant will only bloom once, but it will last three to six months.
10. Burro's Tail or Donkey's Tail
It is a succulent perennial that produces flowing stems up to two feet long. The plant loves partial sun or bright shade. Too much sun will burn it. Morning sunlight is suggested for best growth.
It is non-toxic to cats, but you should keep it out of their reach anyway. Burro's tail can be tricky to maintain, and a cat who enjoys bothering the plant could cause it to wither. I would suggest hanging them and putting them in a spot where cats can't climb up to them.
Water it sparingly to prevent rot root. I would suggest watering it about once every 1-2 weeks.
Calatheas come in a variety of shapes and colors. They need a warm spot with bright but indirect light. Direct sunlight could burn their leaves. Calatheas need moist soil from spring to fall. Mist the leaves daily to give them some humidity. They like moist soil, not soggy soil. They also get fussy if they're too dry. Remove brown or yellow leaves.
Healthy Calatheas have leaves that move upward at night as opposed to collapsing into a prayer position. This plant can be a bit moody; it's not the easiest to maintain. It is a very attractive plant though.
Haworthia: a genus of succulent plants that come in a variety of colors and shapes. They're native to Southern Africa. Their nickname is "fairy washboard". They thrive in sunlight but are well adapted to partial shade. Water them every 2-3 weeks. The soil should be completely dry before watering. Overall, it's a simple and not time-consuming plant to maintain.
Even though it looks like aloe, which is toxic to pets, the zebra plant (Haworthia) is safe for them.
There are 650 species in this genus. They're native to forests, mountains, and deserts. You might be more familiar with Tillandsia's other name, air plants. Tillandsia likes bright, filtered light. A patio, deck, or sunroom with indirect sunlight is the best spot. An office with a big window is another good spot.
They don't grow in soil. They cling to trees and on other substrates that will not hold water for too long. Some will grow beautiful flowers.
Evergreen or deciduous, echeveria comes in a variety of shapes and colors. Some will flower. They're commonly known as "hen and chicks". They're often used as host plants for butterflies. Echeveria plants are hardy. They're drought-resistant, shade-tolerant, and don't mind a little bit of frost. Hybrids, however, are less tolerant. Most echeverias lose their lower leaves in winter.
It's best to let them dry all the way and then water again. The leaves are great at storing water. Bright light with some direct sunlight is recommended.
15. Pilea Involucrata, Friendship Plant
A plant with bold leaves that craves high humidity. Water the plant thoroughly; it needs to be in a pot with good drainage. Empty the drainage tray when done watering. The lovely Friendship Plant will be unhappy with soggy soil, and it is susceptible to root rot. Keep it dry in winter; it grows slower in that season.
It gets about 6 inches tall, and in some cases can get as tall as 1 foot. The Friendship Plant earned its name because of the rapid rooting of cuttings, which can establish new plants. This makes it easy to give to friends and family to grow their own plants.
16. Swedish Ivy
Also called "Swedish begonia" or "whorled plectranthus". It has glossy green leaves that are round. It is aromatic. It reaches a height of about a foot and a length of two feet. The stems turn deep purple, and the leaves' undersides are purple and hairy.
The name is deceptive. The plant isn't native to Sweden, and it isn't related to the genus of ivy, Hedera. The plant does well in indirect sunlight. It's often used as a hanging houseplant. It is best when moist, and it responds well to pruning. It can be rooted with clippings. A weak plant will be prey to spider mites.
17. Staghorn Fern
The plant is also called elkhorn fern. The plant has unique pointy-shaped fronds. It is native to tropical and temperate regions in Africa, Australia, South America, and Southeast Asia.
The plant has two types of fronds: basal and fertile. The basal fronds are round shield-like shapes. They protect the fern's roots. Some ferns will have basal fronds in the form of a crown to catch water and other items.
Fertile fronds produce spores. They're antler shaped, hence the name staghorn or elkhorn. The plant requires frequent watering, but do allow the plant to dry out between new feedings. Fertilize once per month with a 1:1:1 ratio of fertilizer diluted with water.
The plant is susceptible to black spot, a fungal disease. To grow a staghorn fern inside, you need to replicate the conditions of their natural environment. They don't normally grow in soil. One trick: add sphagnum moss to a hanging basket and place the fern on top. Gently weave the leaves of the plant out the edges of the basket.
18. Baby Rubberplant
Native to Florida, Mexico, and the Caribean, the baby rubberplant is adorable and doesn't require too much care. The plant is also called pepper face.
The plant needs high humidity and decent lighting that isn't excessive. It does need frequent watering. It is fairly resistant to pests, but look out for aphids and mealybugs.
Too much water will lead to root rot. The more light it receives, the more water it will need. It likes a good misting. They grow well in shaded areas and under fluorescent lights. They make for great bathroom companions.
19. Christmas Cactus
An absolutely strange plant with alliteration in its name. Christmas Cactus takes on a lovely green hue in spring and summer, and it has neon-pink blooms in the dead of winter.
Christmas Cactus will produce a blueberry-like fruit. The berries will stay on the plant for a year. The plant thrives in a well-drained pot. Keep the soil moist when it's in bloom. Mist it graciously. Place the cactus in an east-facing window for moderate light and direct sun. If the leaves go limp, it either hasn't had enough water or had too much light.
20. Cast Iron Plant
Tolerant of mishaps and neglect, the cast iron plant is a hardy friend. They can grow to about two feet tall and two feet wide. It has glossy dark green leaves. It does bloom purple flowers, but they're often overshadowed by the leaves of the plant. Cast iron plants can live for decades. If the leaves turn yellow, it's a sign that you've overwatered it.
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.
© 2022 Andrea Lawrence