Pet Friendly Houseplants

It’s always nice to keep a bit of green in your house throughout the winter months, but it’s also important to be sure that the bit of green won’t harm your family pet. In order to keep your household in harmony, here are a few tips on how best to grow plants indoors with pets.

First, keep any houseplants out of your pets’ reach. This is a simple solution to keeping any possibly toxic plants away from your pet, especially if you do not know if the plant is poisonous. Positioning plants on high, inaccessible window ledges or on top of tall furniture works, while hanging baskets are another option. Tall plant stand can work in this method as well. However, be sure that the plant stand is sturdy enough that they cannot be easily knocked over by a hungry pet.

If you have a problem with pets knocking over your plants and spilling soil all over your carpet, try growing plants that do not require a lot of soil. This includes succulents, cacti, bamboo and tillandsia (air plant) that do not require a lot, if any, soil grow.

Much like with rabbits in your garden outside, you can coat houseplants with a deterrent that will keep your furry friend from nibbling on it. Not only do some of the same rabbit repelling sprays work, but pet stores also sell sprays like “Bitter Apple” sprays that will deter a pet from going for a plant. Again, much like with rabbits, you may have to apply the spray more than once to keep the pets away.

A lot of people plant marigolds and other rabbit-poof plants to help avoid dealing with rabbits altogether, and if you like this method, then grow houseplants specifically for your pets. If you have a cat that loves to get into your plants, be sure that you’re growing plants that are okay for them to eat. Plants like catnip, mint and cat grass are three options that can be grown especially for your cat. In fact, if you have these around, the other plants may look unappealing to your cat.

If all of the above do not seem to deter your hungry pet from chewing on your plants, try growing only non-toxic houseplants. A great resource for finding out if any plant is poisonous is the ASPCA website:

Some of the most common houseplants are surprisingly toxic for your best friend. Here are some of the most toxic plants for your cat or dog to be around:

  • Aloe Vera

  • Antherium

  • Asparagus Fern

  • Begonia

  • Baby’s Breath

  • Calla Lily

  • Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)

  • Corn Plant

  • Croton

  • Cycads (Sago Palm, Fern Palm)

  • Dieffenbachia

  • Ficus

  • Geranium

  • Ivy

  • Jade Plant

  • Mother—in-Laws Tongue (Snake Plant)

  • Norfolk Island Pine

  • Oxalis (Shamrock)

  • Peace Lily

  • Pencil Cactus

  • Philodendron

  • Poinsettia (Though a large amount of the plant needs to be ingested in order for it to be toxic)

  • Pothos

  • Schefflera

All houseplants are not bad, however. Here’s a list of plants that are non-toxic to both cats and dogs:

  • African Violet

  • Bamboo

  • Boston Fern

  • Blue Echeveria (Succulent)

  • Areca or Golden Palm

  • Burro's Tail or Lamb's Tail

  • Christmas Cactus

  • Cliff Brake or Button Fern

  • Hens and Chickens

  • Neanthebella Palm

  • Pearl Plant

  • Pony Tail Palm

  • Spice Orchid

  • Spider Plant

When in doubt, be sure to check your plants toxicity on the ASPCA website or call your vet for information if your pet has already eaten the plant.

With a little bit of planning, you and your pets can enjoy the beauty and health benefits of having houseplants in your home.

Kim Boyer