Cristina is a Florida-licensed Realtor. She specializes in residential sales and enjoys writing articles that help buyers and sellers.
Having a pet, no matter how old, is a lot like having a little kid around running around the house. You have to constantly keep them from doing something they shouldn’t, like chewing on cords, eating shoes, or jumping off furniture.
A question many new homeowners or new pet owners ask is, "Which house plants are safe for my dog or cat?" That's a great question as we all want our pets to be safe in their home, just like we want our kids to be safe. The good news is that there are many dog-safe house plants and cat-safe indoor plants that will also add greenery and beauty to your home while helping to clean the air and keep your indoor air quality high.
The ASPCA has a list of safe and unsafe plants for dogs and cats. The list doesn’t include every plant that’s poisonous to your pets but it should get you started and is a good resource for when you’re shopping for new houseplants.
Poisonous plants, by the ASPCA’s definition, are not necessarily toxic, but they will make your pet really sick, and that’s not something any of us want our dogs or cats to go through.
So which plants are safe? There are general categories of plants that are mostly safe. That said, it’s always possible for your pet to have an allergy or other unexpected reaction to anything. Use this list as a guideline. Any time you introduce something new into your pet's environment, keep an eye on them, and make sure they exhibit no adverse reactions.
1. Carnivorous Plants
Strange, right? Believe it or not, the plants that eat insects, like pitcher plants and venus fly traps, are not likely to be dangerous to your pets. If you’re buying an exotic variety, you probably still want to check with a nursery to make sure it’s safe but the common varieties should be fine to keep in your home or yard.
Ferns are one of those super plants that thrive in a number of conditions, beautify your space, and provide an improvement to your indoor air quality. They also happen to be safe for your dogs and cats.
Many households keep ferns indoors as well as outdoors on their patios, extending the beauty of ferns throughout the house and outdoor living areas. Boston ferns are the most popular but nearly all ferns are harmless to keep as houseplants.
3. Kitchen Herbs
There are few things better than picking fresh herbs from your kitchen garden to toss into the soup or sauce on the stove. Common kitchen herbs are like thyme, oregano, basil, or sage are perfectly safe for your pets.
The bonus is that you can also grow herbs that are good for (or fun) for your dog and cat. Try wheatgrass or catnip.
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A huge range of orchids is safe for pets, even if they’re not always the easiest things to grow. Popular varieties such as Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, and Vanda orchids will grow in different household conditions.
Though orchids are widely considered dog safe and cat safe, most of us keep our orchids in hanging baskets or up on a table and away from the pets. Still, if your cat loves to jump on the furniture— or maybe you have a dog with springs on his feet—be assured that orchids will not harm them if they happen to eat part of one.
True palms are generally safe, but cycads are not. Make sure you know which you’re purchasing before committing to a plant. Cycads tend to have squatty, highly textured trunks that resemble pineapples, where palms have a smooth trunk and bark. The difference between the two gets even more confused because some cycads have common names with "palm" in it, like the sago palm (cycas revoluta).
When looking for a safe palm to purchase, look to bamboo palm, date palm, or areca palm. Other cycads include coontie and several lesser-known varieties. There are even some cycads that resemble ferns so be sure to check the scientific names of any exotic plants you are considering for your home, patio, or yard.
This huge group of plants has around 1500 recognized species. We know it commonly as rubber plants. Peperomia plants have textured leaves, sometimes variegated, and are very easy to care for. They come from tropical and sub-tropical regions so love places like bathrooms that have higher humidity though they’re also lovely on a living room side table.
Succulents and cacti make a good choice for pet-friendly indoor plants. As a group, they are pretty safe for pets. That said, consider how your dog or cat might interact with plants before bringing one into your home. Puppies, kittens, or big dogs may become entangled with the spines that cover most cacti.
While cacti are considered safe if eaten, their pointy parts might pose a greater risk. If you must keep cacti, try one of the spineless varieties like a Christmas cactus. On a side note, some succulent type plants are considered poisonous to pets, like aloe vera, jade plants, and kalanchoe. Be sure to keep those outdoors and keep an eye on your dogs and cats for several days to make sure they won't try to ingest those.
Knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that your plants are safe for your pets can be difficult, especially since some plants go by different common names, and sometimes several different plants share the same common name. But with a little research, you can find the perfect houseplants that are safe for your pets and beautiful in your home.
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.
© 2020 Cristina Vanthul
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 16, 2020:
It is always good to know which plants are safe around pets.