Adding greenery to our homes helps to clean the air and boost our mood, but house plants aren’t always good for our precious pets. If eaten, some common indoor plants are actually toxic to cats and dogs. We asked horticulturalist Adelle Lane to share her favourite pet-friendly house plants. And if your four-legged friend does have a penchant for nibbling, she tells us which varieties it might be best to avoid.
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What are the best pet-friendly house plants to buy?
There are many pet-friendly house plants available. Here are six of the best indoor plants to make you and your pets happy.
1. Spider Plant
The Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) is one of the easiest houseplants to grow for beginners. It loves bright, indirect light, although it can also do well in lower light. Growing new spider plants from the ‘babies’ that the mother plant produces is a fun way to increase your collection.
Allow the soil to almost dry out between waterings and your spider plant will grow to a height of about 50cm. When mature, it will produce beautiful, star-shaped white flowers.
2. Chinese Money Plant
The Chinese Money Plant (Pilea) is a lovely and compact little plant that will happily sit on your desk looking cute. Despite its elegant appearance, it’s a robust choice and can handle a bump and a scrape. Even if the leaves fall off, they’ll grow back in no time.
This pet-friendly house plant prefers a shady position away from direct sunlight. Treat yours well and you’ll be rewarded with a plethora of new pups to propagate and distribute to friends and family.
3. Prayer Plant
With compact growth, the Maranta leuconeura (Prayer Plant) is perfect for bookshelves and end tables. One of the simplest houseplants to cultivate, this pet-friendly plant gets its name from the way its gorgeous crimson, cream, and green leaves fold upwards at night. Marantas prefer medium to low light, and don’t mind if their soil is allowed to dry out a little between waterings.
4. Polka Dot Plant
Add a burst of design and colour to miniature gardens, mixed pots and more with a Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya). This pet-friendly plant comes in pink or white hues, and while it may grow quite tall, you can pinch out the tips from the longest stems to keep it to a 30cm height and spread. Keep the soil continuously damp and place it in a position that receives bright, indirect light.
5. Boston Fern
The Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is an air-purifying, pet-friendly house plant that provides a sense of drama wherever it’s placed. Note that, as lovable as this houseplant is, ferns don’t like to be handled too much because human hands are oily. Place it in a humid location near the bathroom or kitchen and out of paws’ reach if possible!
N.B. It can be difficult to distinguish between true members of the fern family and other plants that just have the term ‘fern’ in their name. True ferns like ‘Dryopteris Affinis’ are safe for pets. Keep an eye out for poisonous misnomers like the asparagus fern, which is actually a lily.
Echeveria Purple Pearl ‘Shine like a Pearl’ is a pretty succulent with lilac-grey leaves edged in pink. In summer, it produces slender stems of pink flowers. This drought-tolerant houseplant is really easy to grow provided you put it in a bright, sunny spot with low humidity.
Many popular succulents like echeverias aren’t harmful, but it’s essential to do your homework on each one. (For example, jade plants look similar to other succulents but they are harmful to dogs.)
Plants that are unsafe for pets
Unfortunately, some plants are harmful to your furry friends, causing symptoms from mild irritation to death. Although some are more dangerous than others, it pays to be informed and keep your home and garden free of toxic plants if you’re worried that your pet might have a nibble. Some variants you should avoid are:
- Lily (Belladonna and Kaffir are particularly toxic)
- Hawaiian Ti
- Aloe Vera
- Sago Palm
- Ornamental Pepper Plant
- Winter Cherry
- Rubber plant
How do you stop your pets from eating your plants?
Getting pet-friendly house plants is the safest option for our furry friends. However, you should also ensure they don’t nibble on them. Moving your plants out of reach is the best way – for example, using high shelves that tiny paws cannot access. Because cats dislike the smell of citrus, you can also try repelling them by spraying diluted lemon juice on your plants. Animals sometimes mistake plants for toys, so providing them with plenty of pet-safe toys to play with may help to divert their attention.
We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas for pet-friendly houseplants. If you’re looking for more advice about how to grow your own indoor jungle, take a look at our best expert advice on how to grow house plants.