Mixing pets and plants can be tricky, and it’s hard to know when you’re shopping whether or not a houseplant is safe for pets. So, we’ve put together a handy list of popular houseplants that won’t send your cat or dog to the vet, with information from the ASPCA’s website on plant and pet safety. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but it’s a great place to start.
1. Air Plants (Tillandsias)
Air plants of any kind are a great pet-friendly plant choice. They don’t contain any compounds that are harmful to cats and dogs, so even if they chomp a whole leaf they’ll be just fine. They also look great in terrariums, which protect them from curious mouths.
2. Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants are easy to grow and produce tons of little plants to share with friends. And as an added bonus, they are nontoxic to pets.
However, that nontoxic label comes with an asterisk. Even though spider plants won’t kill your pet, they’re mildly hallucinogenic for cats. This effect is believed to be harmless, but cats can also experience mild gastrointestinal discomfort after eating the leaves. Because of this, it’s best to place the spider plant on a high shelf or in a macrame hanger out of reach just in case.
Fans of these stunning plants will be happy to know that they are safe for both dogs and cats. And that isn’t limited to just one type of calathea- rattlesnake, peacock, beauty star, orbifolia, all of them are fine to have around pets. If your pet is a chewer, moving your calatheas to the bathroom can help keep them isolated and protected. Plus, they’ll love the humidity.
Just like calatheas, the hoya family of plants are all safe to have around cats and dogs. Unlike calatheas, they work very well in hanging pots or up on high shelves because of their cascading vines.
5. Banana Tree (Musa)
If you’re looking for a plant that makes more of a statement, banana plants are becoming increasingly popular indoors. Along with being impressive size-wise, banana trees are completely safe for all pets.
6. Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
These colorful little plants are safe for cats and dogs according to the ASPCA. However, while most animals will be just fine after sneaking a bite or two, eating more than that can cause mild diarrhea and vomiting.
7. Ferns (But Not All of Them)
There are plenty of “true ferns” that are perfectly safe for dogs and cats- these include Boston, staghorn, and birds nest ferns. But it’s important to note that there are some “ferns” out there that are not true ferns and thus not guaranteed to be pet-safe.
For example, the Asparagus fern (Asparagus aethiopicus), is a member of the lily family and is highly toxic for cats. When purchasing a fern, make sure to get the full scientific name so you can research if it’s pet safe or not.
Peperomias are possibly some of the most pet-safe plants available. They come in tons of varieties, many of which have very striking foliage. One of the most popular is Peperomia argyreia (aka watermelon peperomia) which contains no compounds toxic to animals.
9. Venus Fly Traps (Dionaea muscipula)
These carnivorous plants are dangerous for small flying insects, but not for your furry friends. However, they are fairly delicate so keeping them out of reach of furry paws is a good idea.
10. (True) Palms
While not all palms are safe for pets, there are a few species that are pet-friendly. These include parlor (Chamaedorea elegans), areca (Dypsis lutescens), and ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata). Note- ponytail palms are not “true palms,” but they are still verified as safe for pets by the ASPCA.
One type to stay far away from if you have pets is the sago palm. It isn’t a true palm, and every single part is toxic to animals. It’s a member of the Cycadaceae family, a very toxic family of plants. Cycad seeds are known to be appetizing to dogs, making the plants even more dangerous.
11. African Violets (Saintpaulia sp.)
Fuzzy-leafed and flowery African violets are a popular indoor plant, with lots of different colors and patterns. Fortunately, both the leaves and flowers are completely safe for cats and dogs.
Another beautiful flowing plant, orchids are also safe for pets. The ASPCA specifically lists the Phalaenopsis orchid (moth or moon orchid) as safe for cats and dogs, but orchids as a whole are considered non toxic. If in doubt about the species, it’s always safest to do some research on it.
Closely related to air plants, bromeliads have similar light and humidity requirements and are also safe for animals. They are larger and harder to place on high shelves, so placement of the plant should still be a consideration if your cat or dog is prone to munching on leaves.
14. Prayer Plants (Maranta leuconeura)
There are a few different types of marantas, commonly known as prayer plants because of the “hand folding” movement they make at night. They are considered safe for dogs and cats, and if you’re still worried about having them within reach of pets they work well in hanging baskets.
This category of succulents includes the darling fasciata (“zebra plant”), the unusual-looking truncata (“horse’s teeth”), and the jewel-like cooperi. Succulent lovers will be happy to know that haworthias are safe for both dogs and cats.
One of the most popular succulents on the market, echeverias as a family of plants are considered safe for cats and dogs. All are considered non toxic, however it’s best to keep pets from ingesting them if possible.
17. Money Tree (Pilea peperomioides)
A popular and easy to care for plant, pilea peperomioides are sometimes also known as “friendship plants” since they have a habit of sprouting lots of pups that can be shared with friends. They are safe for both dogs and cats, though their drooping (dangling) leaves may prove tempting for cats to play with.
18. Nerve Plant (Fittonia albivenis)
Fittonias are known as the drama queens of the plant world, since they have a habit of “fainting” when their water levels get too low. In spite of the ominous-sounding “nerve plant” name, they are safe for dogs and cats.
Now that you know some safe plants, here are five types of popular houseplants that are verified as toxic for pets and should be avoided (and a few examples of their common names):
- Dracaenas (corn plant, janet craig, marginata, warneckii)
- Dieffenbachias (dumb cane)
- Sansevierias (snake plants)
- Euphorbias (very wide family of plants, some are popular succulents that produce a toxic white sap)
- Aroid family- includes Epipremnum (pothos), monsteras, and philodendrons