Pets do the darndest things—silly, smart, and stupid things. You watch in amazement when your puppy learns to fetch, shake, and sit. But, when he rolls around on roadkill or eats his own poop, well, that’s not so amazing.
Whatever your pets do in their spare time, you want to keep them safe. And sometimes, nibbling on houseplants is not a safe thing to do. In fact, some houseplants can make a pet seriously ill. Whether you have a dog, cat, or bunny, you want your home to be a haven for your pet. Pet safety begins with proper training.
Teach your pet that houseplants are off-limits, always provide plenty of toys for play, and use a pet-repellent spray on the outside of your planters. Other ways to keep both pets and plants safe include:
- Set plants on a high shelf or, for cats, hang them from the ceiling.
- Cover potting soil with rocks to keep pets from digging in the dirt.
- Use heavy pots that are hard to tip over.
- Remove standing water from drip trays.
8 Easy to Care for Pet-friendly Houseplants
And because we can’t control everything, we’ve put together this list of eight pet-safe houseplants for you.
Spider plant—Chlorophytum comosum
The spider plant may resemble ornamental grass but it’s actually a perennial flowering plant. It grows best in indirect light with well-draining soil and regular watering. Fertilize your spider plants twice a month through the spring and summer and repot yearly to keep them happy, healthy, and productive.
Proper care encourages them to send out shoots with tiny white flowers and baby plantlets that resemble spiders, hence the name. To propagate, cut off the baby spiders and pot them separately.
Christmas cactus—Schlumbergera bridgesti
Native to the Brazilian rainforest, the Christmas cactus is easy to grow and rewards you with star-shaped white, red, or yellow flowers right about Christmas time. It prefers frequent watering in small amounts, plenty of indirect light, daily misting, and temperatures around 60 degrees.
To promote blooms, make sure your Christmas cactus gets 10-12 hours of darkness each 24-hour period. Amazingly, a properly cared-for Christmas cactus can live 100 years.
Reminiscent of the Victorian era, the soft, delicate African violet brings a bit of cheer when your outdoor flowers are dormant for the winter. Available in many colors and sizes, African violets need a warm location with a lot of filtered light.
Grow in an African violet soil mix or create your own of equal parts peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. tepid water at the plant’s base when the soil feels dry to the touch. Keep water off the leaves to prevent damage.
Boston fern—Nephrolepis exaltata
The pet-safe Boston fern needs a cool location with high humidity and indirect lighting. If your home tends to be dry, set the fern on a tray of pebbles filled with water. As the water evaporates, it will provide the humidity your fern loves.
Misting it with a spray bottle a few times a week will help, too. Keep the fern’s soil moist, checking it daily. If the fronds turn yellow, increase the humidity around the plant.
Banana plant—Musa oriana
Add a tropical feel to your pet-friendly home with a Banana plant. For indoors, choose a dwarf variety. Not all Banana plants produce fruit, so check the variety before purchasing if you have your heart set on homegrown bananas.
Grow in a large, deep container with adequate drainage and a rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. Since Banana plants are tropical, they want as much sunlight as possible each day and a warm, humid location. Feed monthly.
An imposing plant with strappy leaves, the Bromeliad produces a showy flower for that perfect pop of color. Care depends on the genus and species of plant. But for the most part, Bromeliads do well in fast-draining soil that holds moisture, but they don’t like a lot of water.
Add water sparingly to their central cup or to the soil on a weekly basis. They prefer temperatures from 55 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity levels from 40 to 60 percent.
Ponytail palm—Beaucarnea recurvata
Aptly named for its resemblance to a pony’s tail, this pet-safe indoor plant is an easy grower. And it’s not actually a palm, but a succulent. Though its leaves are thin and grasslike, it stores water in a large bulge at the base of its trunk. Grow in a palm, succulent, or cactus mix soil and give it plenty of light. But water only every week or two, and then thoroughly.
Commonly known as moth orchid, this is the easiest orchid for beginners to grow. Characterized by their thick, dark green leaves and arching branches of elegant flowers in shades of pink, violet, or white, this pet-friendly houseplant requires a bark-growing medium that provides plenty of air circulation for the roots. Orchids grow best in a warm, humid location. Place in an east- or south-facing window for plenty of filtered light— and water weekly, keeping the bark damp.
Having a pet is no reason to quit your other hobbies, like indoor gardening. If keeping houseplants brings you joy, try a few of these non-toxic varieties. Or visit your local garden center for more options of pet-safe plants.