There is always much discussion, and rightly so, surrounding houseplants that are harmful to pets. However, we tend to spend much less time guiding the plant-loving pet owner toward ways to fill their home with foliage while keeping the safety of their pets in mind. In the spirit of “problem-solving,” we present to you 10 pet safe plants.
Important Words of Caution
We are using the words “non-toxic” and “pet safe” for the plants listed below. By this we mean the plants are not known to cause significant harm to any organ system which could result in serious illness or death. However, remember, the digestive system of dogs and cats is NOT designed to eat plant material. Therefore, chewing and swallowing small bites of these plants may cause vomiting or diarrhea. Although not life-threatening, these signs could still result in a trip to your veterinarian. If you notice your pet chewing on any plants, it is best to prevent your pet’s access to help them avoid temptation.
Tis the Season: Holiday Pet Safe Plants
November is upon us and holiday celebrations, for many of us, begin later this month. Adding color and cheer to your home is something many people enjoy. Gifting plants and flower arrangements is also popular this time of year. Stick to these plants to give you the best of both worlds, a celebratory charm that is safe for your furry friend.
The Christmas Cactus:
This showy plant is easy to maintain and tends to bloom in the fall and winter months, hence the name. Flowers come in numerous colors from white to red/orange to even pink.
Orchids are often considered difficult to grow and therefore many people are reluctant to add them to their homes. In fact, the Phalaenopsis is not difficult if you do a bit of research ahead of time to learn their unique watering requirements and potting needs. The wonderful thing about these plants is the beautiful cascading blooms that come in an abundant variety of color variations including whites, yellows, pinks, and purples. Their blooms can last for months if the plant is properly maintained.
Polka Dot Plant:
The Polka Dot Plant is unique and showy. Its leaves have a base green color that is accentuated by little splashes of color (polka dots). Careful cultivation has given way to popular seasonal colors such as snowy white or rich scarlet. The plant is easy to grow indoors and adds color to the home year-round.
Although typically considered a Valentine’s Day staple, winter holiday bouquets often contain beautiful long-stem roses with red or white blooms. Such bouquets are not harmful to pets. Roses, although sweet smelling, are bitter in taste, and dogs and cats are not likely to have more than a single taste. However, a very important note to pay heed to… not all “roses” are pet safe plants. In particular, a plant called the Christmas Rose is a member of the Hellebore family. These varieties are KNOWN toxins and can cause cardiac and gastrointestinal issues. Although the plant is exceptionally bitter in taste, any ingestion should be reported to your veterinarian.
Another plant that happily produces red and white blooms if properly cared for in winter is the Lipstick Plant. The plant is often used in hanging baskets and the greenery and cascading flowers add warmth and character year-round. The plant is tropical in origin and may require a little extra humidity in the winter months for the best blooms. Additionally, this plant loves to live outside in hanging baskets during the summer months.
Year-Round Indoor Greenery:
Many people enjoy year-round greenery and consider maintaining and caring for indoor plants a productive hobby. The following plants make good choices for the pet-loving home.
The Spider Plant is notoriously easy to grow and maintain making it the first choice for homeowners that may not have a highly developed “green thumb”. Spider plants come in variegated and non-variegated varieties which may suit a variety of tastes. They look especially interesting when resting on a shelf where the unique “spiderette clusters” can spill out over the edge.
Sweet, colorful, and compact, violets are a nice addition to the home. Carefully research the growing conditions of these plants before you decide if you want to try your hand at growing them. For every favorable review there seems to be another, just as convincing, one that suggests they may be a finicky plant that may not meet your expectations unless precise conditions are provided. They are truly adorable plants and may be worth the effort, especially in a home with pets.
Peacock or Prayer Plant:
If you are up to the challenge of growing them and like a plant with a little extra flair, the Peacock or Prayer Plant may be for you. This plant has unique leaves that fall and rise as a part of a daily ritual that plays out from daybreak to nighttime. During the day the leaves are low, revealing a beautiful striping pattern that is reminiscent of a peacock feather. At night, the plant raises its leaves skyward as if in prayer. While the leaves are in an upright position, the rich purple underside of the leaves is exposed.
Making a Big Statement
Although indoor plants hanging in baskets, sitting on shelves, or gracing windowsills certainly add beauty to the home, many people also enjoy large potted plants that can sit on the floor. With such easy access to these floor plants making sure these plants are pet friendly is extremely important.
This plant can grow up to 6-12 feet if left unpruned. These plants have long lifespans and can live up to 10 years if treated well. The plants need bright indoor light and are well suited to sunrooms or large, modern homes with open floor plans and numerous windows. Other than routine watering and pruning they are fun and easy to maintain.
Everyone can benefit from a little luck and prosperity. The Money Tree is touted to bestow just that upon the home. The trunk of these trees is unique with a braided appearance. The braids in the trunk are said to trap good fortune and they are pet safe plants too! You probably don’t need another reason to add this to your collection of large, potted indoor plants.
Hopefully, you now feel confident in adding foliage to your home, giving you the chance to enjoy and care for plants similar to the way we all enjoy and care for our pets. Remember, just because a plant is non-toxic, it does not mean you should allow your pet to chew or consume any part of the plant. Mild oral and gastrointestinal discomfort is sure to occur as a result.
As always, the staff of Longwood Veterinary Center is here to help and guide you but if you would like to explore this topic further we recommend these excellent online resources:
Written by Corrina Snook Parsons VMD