Pet-Friendly Houseplants: Indoor Gardening Guide

by | Mar 10, 2021 | Tips

If you love to fill your home with living things, it seems like an injustice to have to choose between your favorite furry friends and your favorite houseplants. Unfortunately, there are many plants that are toxic to cats and dogs, and even with the most well trained pooch, it is next to impossible to eliminate any risk of disaster. The good news is, there are an abundance of beautiful, pet safe plants. As a bonus, many of them are quite low maintenance. Who could ask for anything more? Here is a breakdown of some pet-friendly house plants that you and your floofy companions will love. 

If you are concerned about the toxicity of any given plant, you can always do a quick search on the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants. Better safe than sorry! 

Pet-Friendly Houseplants

Some Succulents: 

Succulents are known to be some of the most common house plants, known for being drought tolerant and easy to care for. Many of the most popular succulents such as hen and chicks and echeveria are perfectly safe for pets. However, not all succulents are created equally, and it’s always wise to do some quick research, especially if your pet loves to nibble. For example, jade plants and aloe are toxic to cats and dogs, but haworthia, which are closely related to aloe, are a great, pet-friendly alternative. 

Here is a quick guide on how to care for succulents.

Air plants: 

You thought it couldn’t get any easier to care for houseplants, enter the air plant (Tillandsia). Though their care will differ for each variety and growing environment,  in general, air plants love indirect light, an occasional soak in water, and grow without any soil (good news if your pet is a digger). So they can grow almost anywhere and make the perfect house plant for those of us with limited space. And, though many of their spindly forms may be tempting to pounce and chew on, air plants are quite resilient and will most likely survive a cat attack with a little TLC. Trim off the damaged areas and place them out of reach of your curious kitty.  

Check out this how to care for air plants and their many different varieties. 

Spider Plants: 

Spider plants are loved for their easy care and impressive sprawling growth. They will put off long shoots of new growth that are easy to propagate into new plants and will easily fill a decorative hanging basket with their spider-like spread of leaves. The best part, they are non-toxic for your pet friends! However, in my experience, the mother plant’s hanging shoots tend to move in the wind and make themselves completely irresistible to my playful cats. While nibbles are safe for kitty, to protect the plant itself, hang your basket out of reach. 

Many Ferns:

Ferns are often the go-to for decorative greenery. Some favorite, pet-safe ferns include the Boston Fern, Staghorn Fern, and  Maidenhair Fern. However, there are a few plants that are commonly known as ferns but are not actually in the fern family and are unsafe for cats and dogs. These include Foxtail Ferns and Asparagus Fern. To be safe, do a quick double check when deciding on the best fern for your home. 

Most ferns will thrive in high humidity and bright indirect sunlight. Their sizes vary and they are often seen happily at home in a hanging basket. 

pink orchids in sink

Orchids: 

Though I would not consider orchids to be among the most low maintenance house plants, most would agree that their beautiful blooms are well worth any effort. Orchids themselves are considered safe for cats and dogs. The most popular variety is the delicate Moth Orchid. 

One thing to be aware of; many orchids will require specific potting mixes, which often include wood chips. If your pet enjoys digging and ingests these ingredients, they will most likely have a bit of a tummy ache. Most orchids will also require fertilizer. To protect your pet, be sure to add the fertilizer directly to the soil, not the leaves or petals, and choose more natural, organic fertilizer. 

Peperomia:

This family of plants includes many varieties and each are beloved as lush ornamental plants. These tropical plants mostly enjoy bright light, many tolerating direct sunlight and high humidity. 

Bromeliads:

This is another topical plant that cannot be missed, mostly because of its bright and long lasting bloom. These beauties are pet-safe and love bright indirect light. They can  even grow without soil, attaching themselves to an organic surface, such as a log. 

Calathea:

Because they thrive in low light, the large green leaves of the Calathea  (zebra plant) are perfect for filling out those darker corners of your home. You may also come across the rattlesnake plant (Calathea lancifola). Their uniquely patterned and shaped leaves add great variety to your collection of indoor plants, without risking the safety of your pets.

Parlor Palm:

The Parlor Palm, also known as the areca or butterfly palm is the perfect low maintenance houseplant for those looking to fill a larger space. Their tall fronds can grow up to eight feet tall.  They require limited amounts of indirect light, and can even be considered a low light plant (perfect for any parlor). Because less is more for this lovely, be sure not place your palm in an area of too much bright light and allow the soil to dry between waterings.   

Ponytail Palm: 

Also known as the Beaucarnea Recurvata, this plant is just too charming. In fact, you may have perky and fun friends who sport a similar looking hairstyle. While the dangling fronds of this plant may trigger your cat’s playful side, you can rest easy, as they are non-toxic to your floofy friend. 

Pilea:

We love this plant for its unassuming size and unique leaf pattern. Pilea, also known as the watermelon plant, aluminum plant, or friendship plant, usually grows no more than 12 inches high and does well in medium – low light. For this reason it can be grown almost anywhere. 

christmas cactus with pink flowers

Christmas Cactus:

This festive little plant is perfectly safe for pet friends, though you should discourage chewing, as digestion can cause some stomach irritation. The Christmas Cactus is native to Rio De Janeiro and blooms over the holiday season in the Northern Hemisphere. This makes it a beautiful and bright holiday gift or decoration that is more pet friendly than many classic evergreen options. 

Money Tree: 

The Money Tree is bound to make a big statement in your home and is another great option for those in need of a large plant. This plant-friendly little tree loves full sunlight and moist soil. While it is not considered toxic by the ASPCA, it is still wise to keep pets from chewing on its leaves as this has been known to cause an upset stomach. 

African Violet:

If your space in need of a touch of color? Look no further than this popular houseplant. The African Violet is completely pet friendly, and completely gorgeous with blooms in many shades of pink and purple. They also require a relatively small amount of care, requiring well draining soil and moderate to warm temperatures. They can bloom in low light and remain fairly small, making them adaptable to most any space. 

Prayer Plant:

The Prayer Plant is one of my personal favorites. Its velvet textured leaves boast vibrant green and white, and sometimes even red stripes. The prayer plant can grow in low light but also loves bright areas or indirect light. Its name stems from another unique feature; its leaves curl and close at night.  And, of course, the prayer plant is safe for your pets.

Plants That Are Toxic To Pets

Here is the no no list. This is my no means complete and the toxicity of each does vary. It’s always best to do a quick search with the ASPCA’s list of toxic plants to be sure, but here are some quite common house plants that can cause serious harm to cats and dogs. 

  • Aloe
  • Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
  • Philodendron
  • Sago Palm
  • Peace Lily
  • Pothos
  • Lilies
  • Jade
  • Some Ferns
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Northfolk and Australian Pine
  • Mistletoe and Holly

I know it’s difficult to choose between your favorite house plants and your beloved pets, so don’t. Stick with these favorite pet safe plants in your home and avoid disaster. It’s also worth considering that not all pets are safe for your plants! To protect houseplants from curious, and sometimes destructive pets, here are some helpful tips to keep your cats out of houseplants.

ETA: I know it’s difficult to choose between your favorite house plants and your beloved pets, so don’t. Stick with these favorite pet safe houseplants and avoid disaster.


By Devri Chism

By Devri Chism

Devri loves making the most of her in-home garden. While she was raised on a farm in the Ozarks, she traded the rolling hills for big city livin’ - and an itty bitty living space. She loves growing herbs, as well as, accent plants that can be used decoratively around her home.

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