A happy home is one that not only feels cozy and looks gorgeous, but it's one that you know is safe for everyone in it – pets included. Thankfully, there are many exotic looking, pet-friendly house plants out there to keep both your home's aesthetic and your pets happy. Air-purifying and mood-boosting, much like cats and dogs, the best house plants add life to our home offices, bedrooms, kitchens and to pretty much every space in the house. But, if you're unknowingly keeping unsafe plants for your pets around, and if they like all pets love chewing and brushing up on them, you could run into trouble.
A study by Sass & Belle proved that when it comes to what people are looking for in house plants, there's was an uptake in searches for particular characteristics including pet-friendly and air purifying plants. Data showed an increase of +210% for dog friendly house plants, and a +107% increment in those looking for cat-friendly varieties in particular.
It's certain that the increase will be linked to the surge of people buying fur-balls since the start of the pandemic. Even so, it goes without saying that creating a safe and healthy environment is crucial for any house pet owners.
- Learn how to care for houseplants in our guide.
What plants are not toxic to pets?
After an unsettling experience with her dog Cocoa, Claire Ransom, the founder of Lazy Flora decided to change up her house plant scheme also. 'The guilt was awful, I couldn't believe I'd so carelessly put her at risk. I vowed never to let her get access to any toxic plants ever again. Luckily, Cocoa was fine and suffered no lasting damage, but it heightened my awareness of just how toxic some plants can be.'
Thankfully, you can still enjoy the many benefits of houseplants even with your cat or dog in tow, as there are many pet-friendly plants available. We’ve gathered together a selection of house plants guaranteed to keep you and your pet pals happy.
ECI Software Solutions also teamed up with Phil Gaskin of Little Plant Guys to share some insight to reveal which plants are a safe for not just pets, but kids too! He says 'Anyone with a pet or a child will know that plants love to be pushed over the second your back is turned, leaving soil all over the floor. Of course, no plant should ever be ingested but these are safer alternatives for inquisitive minds of children and pets!'
Ransom adds, 'Pet approved plants include the Calathea, which are known for their unique leaves and patterned foliage. Evergreen ferns, like Asplenium, are safe and have rosette shaped leathery leaves.
1. Some palms
In cooler climates, palms make wonderful additions to a home. However, caution must be taken when selecting an appropriate species. Whilst Sago palms are toxic to pets, Kentia, Areca and Parlour palms are perfectly safe.
'Kentia Palm - this has big grass like leaves that cats love to chew on –- but don’t worry, it’s non-toxic.' Adds Gaskin, 'Parlour Palm - large floor standing plants like this one are pretty hardy. They might get their ends chewed on by the cat or a dog might knock against it, but kids are pretty safe.
2. Blue star fern
Lots of ferns are safe for cats and dogs, and this funky number actually came in highly on our houseplant trends this year. Its curly, blue and green tinged spear-like fronds will add natural texture to your house decor. They adapt well to different climates but as all ferns, they love humidity so a kitchen or bathroom will be perfect.
3. Fishbone cactus
Unsurprisingly known as the zigzag cactus, this pet-friendly house plant is native to Mexico and a beautiful addition to your living space as not only is it simple to care for, but it will flower when happy too. 'Fishbone Cactus - very easy to look after and can live up high out the way with the occasional water.' Says Gaskin.
4. Spider plants (Chlorophytum Variegatum)
Thank goodness that Spider plants are pet-friendly house plants as cats and dogs love nibbling at their billowing spears – that are often full of Spider plant babies ripe for the picking and propagating. Spider plants are pretty timeless and super simple to take care of also. Add a touch of the 70s to your home decor, with naturally air-purifying Chlorophytum helping rid your home office, bedroom or lounge of any nasty toxins.
Gaskin adds more on the Spider Plant. 'This produces long stems with little baby plants at the end that any cat will love to reach for, so keep it up high out of the way. Alternatively, trim off the babies when they appear and watch your home garden grow.'
5. Banana Plant
Banana Plants grow naturally in the Canary Islands so will without a doubt add some tropical vibes to your space. Especially if yours gets to full size (2-3 metres!) The Dwarf variety is also safe for pets says Gaskin, 'Dwarf Banana Plant – a crowd pleaser with big luscious leaves. Should withstand a knock or two, especially when placed in a big, sturdy planter.' Much like its origins imply, Banana plants will enjoy warm spots with bright light and a good amount of humidity.
- See all our indoor gardening ideas for more inspo.
6. Boston fern
This super air-purifying pet-friendly house plant, the Boston fern adds fun and drama wherever it is placed with its soft spears. Note that as strokable as this houseplant is, ferns don't like to be touched too much as our hands are oily (not their jam) so pick a humid spot near the bathroom or kitchen where you can keep it out of paw reach if possible!
For a slightly more leafy option, Calathea are worth a thought. Best positioned in a shady spot, alongside some other plant companions, there are a few different varieties of Calathea that are pet-friendly.
Namely: 'Calathea Stromanthe Triostar – this plant loves a sunny spot and needs a good drink. It will happily show off its amazing coloured leaves around any spot in the home or home office. Perfect for brightening up a dull corner' according to Gaskin. As well as 'Pinstripe calathea – a beautiful plant that almost looks fake, but don’t forget to water it. It doesn’t like to be touched too much, so keep it out of arm’s reach of any little grabbing hands and inquisitive paws.' Both of which make great desk dwellers. And, finally. 'Calathea Rufibarba - these lovely soft, velvety plants are a big corner filler and super safe all rounders.' Is a great pet-friendly floor plant.
8. Money tree
You could recognize that magically twisted trunk anywhere and this hardy but pet-friendly houseplant will brighten up your indoor space, with very little upkeep also. It doesn't require much water as its trunk holds that and it's a great one to keep in your bedroom or office space as it's perfect for balanced feng shui. So, as well as bringing good fortune to your home, Money trees are a safe addition to a home shared with pets. Win, win!
9. Chinese Money Plant (Pilea)
Pilea originates from East Asia, and these pet-friendly house plants want indirect sunlight or a shady spot and not so frequent watering. Treat yours well and you will be blessed with many new pups to propagate and share with pals also looking to liven up their WFH space or other spot in the home. I've had one of these for a couple of years now, not knowing myself that it was pet-friendly and also not knowing that it likes the shade rather than a windowsill... Thankfully, these guys are fairly indestructible.
'Chinese Money Plant (Pilea) - a lovely and compact little plant that will happily sit on your desk looking pretty. It will also occasionally send some new pups out from the soil, which makes it great for repotting and giving to your children to look after too. It’s robust and can handle a bump and a scrape. The leaves may pop off but they’ll grow back in no time.' Phil Gaskin says.
10. Selected succulents
The pet-friendly plants are particularly popular due to their low-maintenance care routine, making them a welcome addition to many a desk, bedroom or other space. Opt for species such as Blue Echeveria, Burro’s Tail, Ruby Heart and Opuntia if you have furry friends around. Kalanchoes and Jade are to be avoided as they are unsafe for pets and often cause sickness in animals.
11. Guzmania Bromeliad
'Bromeliad plants are perfect for injecting a bit of colour into your plant selection whilst keeping pets safe. Their colourful bracts last several months, making them the ideal house plant to sit in a sunny spot. However, when left in a particularly warm conservatory or glasshouse in direct sunlight, the leaves may start to become bleached and scorched.' Recommends Ransom.
What plants are toxic to pets?
Unfortunately there are many plants that, although aesthetically pleasing and safe for humans, just aren’t an option for a home shared with pets. If you have furry (or not furry) friends around, it is worth avoiding the following toxic indoor plants all-together, or keeping them completely out of reach.
- Aloe Vera
- Lily (Belladona and Kaffir are particularly toxic)
- Hawaiian Ti
- Ornamental Pepper Plant
- Sago Palm
- Winter Cherry
- Rubber plant
Claire Ransom, the founder of Lazy Flora notes also that 'When cut, the leaves of a rubber plant will secrete sap that can be harmful to humans and pets alike, so take care when handling.' And remember to always research the exact house plant species you're planning on purchasing beforehand as guidelines can vary with species. If in doubt about a plant you already own, pop it up out of reach until you are clued up.
How can you stop pets eating plants?
According to the experts at BloomBox Club, 'The best method is to move your plants out of reach (using high shelves that tiny paws cannot access). Cats hate the smell of citrus, so you can spray diluted lemon juice onto your plant to put them off.
To an animal plants can look like toys, so giving them their own pet-safe toys to play with may help to distract them and keep them away from your plants.'
Ransom seconds this 'To keep curious paws away from danger, it is best to remove these plants from easily accessible areas of the garden and house.'
Happy pets = happy home!