Which Houseplants are Safe for Pets?

Which Houseplants are Safe for Pets?

Dec 1, 2020

Here at Garden Goods Direct, our pets are part of our family. Creating a safe place for them in our homes is important. This also applies to plants. We have many pet safe options for all the different lighting scenarios and décor within your home.

But why are some plants unsafe? Why do your pets seem so drawn to your leafy greens? We’ve asked our botanical experts a few of the biggest questions about what makes a plant safe for your pets, and why to avoid others.

A cat and his best friend enjoying nature on a hike

Why do animals chew on houseplants? The age of the pet, boredom, and changes in the surroundings are factors that may affect the incidence of poisoning. Puppies and kittens are very inquisitive, and mouth or chew almost any and everything. Pets (especially single household pets) of all ages may become bored or restless if left alone or confined for too long at any one time, and chewing on objects for relief is common.

A dog in grass enjoying life

What does it mean to say a houseplant is pet-friendly? Simply that it is non-toxic. Did you know that many common houseplants are actually quite poisonous? Some of their favorite plants to chew on or eat that are not safe for pets (or people!)  include: philodendrons, most euphorbias, aglaonemas, anthuriums, asparagus ferns, dracaenas, sansevierias, begonias, tradescantias, ficus, and many more. Make sure these are out of reach.

How can I find out if a plant is poisonous to my pets? The ASPCA has done a great job at compiling a list of non-toxic and toxic plants. You can view their list by of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to cats, dogs and horses.

What compounds make houseplant toxic to animals? There are many compounds in plants that be harmful to your animals. They include saponins and anthraquinones (can cause lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea), insoluble calcium oxalates (can cause burning of the lips and mouth, excessive drooling, oral swelling, and vomiting), cycasin (can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even liver failure and death), and proteolytic enzymes (can cause vomiting, burning of the mouth, oral irritation, swelling, and in severe cases difficulty swallowing or breathing).

A cat walking through pet safe succulents

What can I do to help keep my cats from eating my houseplants? Make your plants smell unpleasant to cats. They do not like the smell of citrus so putting lemon peels on the soil surface of your plants may help deter them (do not use concentrated citrus oils as they can be toxic). Choose plants that cats don’t like such as Rosemary. They can’t stand the way it smells. Spraying your plants with a spray specifically made to keep your repel cats from your houseplants. Of course, check with your veterinarian before you allow your cat near an over the counter substance. Strategically placing your plants may also help. Placing your plants in the most off-limits spaces in your home is the easiest way to keep your cat out of them. Making sure that your plants as inaccessible as possible is your best strategy for really, truly keeping them cat-free. Just don’t forget to water them. Sometimes pets are attracted to plants because of the soil. Cats may confuse your pots with the litter box. Sometimes covering the surface of the soil with river pebbles is enough. Some people use forks or sticks to make the pot uncomfortable for guests.

a low light pet safe Calathea Medallion

Calathea Medallion has darkly patterned leaves with light green stripes in a more rounded shape than the other Calatheas. It does well inside in low light areas. Calathea Medallion brings personality and color to any space indoors. The unique foliage resembles a medallion. It is a part of the Marantaceae family, and likes bright, indirect light at most, as the colors will fade and the leaves will burn if exposed to too much direct sun. These plants like to dry out some between watering.

Hoya Macrophylla variegated and pet safe plant

The Variegated Hoya Macrophylla is a neat looking plant that is also called a wax plant or porcelain Flower due to the flowers looking like they are made of wax. Much like the Hoya carnosa, it has variegated foliage that is wide and has distinctive creases in the leaves. The attractive foliage and waxy fragrant flowers make these plants popular with indoor houseplant growers. They prefer to be grown in a warm, bright room with dry soil.

chinese money plant in a ceramic vase is pet safe

Pilea peperomioides or Chinese Money Plant is a rare and very hard-to-find indoor plant native to southern China. It's also called a pass-along plant or friendship plant because you can easily reach in and pull a little "pup" out of the pot and start your friends on their journey to having their own. Pilea peperomioides is spectacularly easy to grow indoors. Simply place the plant where it will receive bright but indirect light, water regularly, and shield from the direct sun. The plant will reward you with seemingly constant growth.

cast iron plants for sale online are pet safe

Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a lush and leafy house plant that is as tough as its name implies. If you are a beginner plant enthusiast or like to travel a lot, Cast Iron is the plant for you. Aspidistra is a low maintenance houseplant that can thrive in a wide range of conditions. It makes an excellent house plant in areas that have little to no natural light.

Red Maranta Prayer plants make great pet safe houseplants

Red Maranta Prayer Plant looks like it's been painted, and likes to dry out between watering. While it is tolerant of wet roots, it prefers not to be that way. The foliage will fade or burn if exposed to excessive light. This family of plants is known for its bright, intense foliage as it performs well indoors and holds its color without much light or care.  It does especially well in low light areas.

Blue Star Ferns are actually pet safe housplants

Blue Hares Foot Fern or Blue Star Fern is a low light houseplant named for the Silvery blue fronds that sprout golden-orange furry rhizomes that will circle in baskets or pots. In general this fern likes to stay moist, but does not like to sit in water so well drained soil is important. It does best in low to bright indirect light.

Parlor palms or neanthe bella palms are pet safe too

Parlor Palms are one of the only palms that are the perfect size to grow on a table or desk. When grown in smaller pots they tend to stay small. This makes them a great plant for the office. Parlor Palms are graceful solid green palms that do well in fairy gardens or terrariums but also do equally well in larger containers. They like bright indirect light from a northern or eastern-facing window. Neanthe Bella palms grow upright and don't get very wide.

Peperomia obtusifolia or baby rubber plant are pet safe too

Peperomia obtusifolia are durable, easy-care plants that make great gifts for someone still developing their green thumb. With the right light and moisture, they'll grow quickly and bloom with flower spikes. Peperomia obtusifolia plants (baby rubber plants) are wonderful succulent-like plants from the Piperaceae family. Native to South America, these durable little houseplants are perfect for tabletops and windowsills. They can live in medium to low light, but a bright indirect light source will make your Peperomia obtusilfolia happy.

Calathea rattlesnake are both pet safe and visually unique, perfect house plant

Calathea Rattlesnake has heavily patterned leaves with purple undersides it does well inside in low light areas. Rattlesnake Calathea Plants bring personality and color to indoor spaces. They are well suited for offices, or areas with only fluorescent light, or even a northern facing window. They are well suited for offices, or areas with only fluorescent light, or even a northern facing window. It is part of the Marantaceae family and likes bright, indirect light, as the colors will fade and the leaves will burn if exposed to too much direct light. Rattlesnake Calathea likes to dry out a little bit between waterings.

Enjoy decorating your home with these tried and true pet safe houseplants! You can read other ways to keep your pets safe in your home.

Show us your favorite plants with your furry friends by tagging us on social media – simply use the hashtag #GGDPlantLove.