There’s nothing like having a houseplant. They add a bit of cheer to a small space, can bring the great outdoors inside, and hey, they produce oxygen. But can they co-exist with our furry roommates?
Plants Safe for Dogs
Polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
Featuring wide leaves with a “freckled” appearance, Hypoestes phyllostachya, more commonly known as the polka dot plant, is a fun addition to any household.
The leaves and dots come in various colors, though the white speckles against a green leaf are very popular. This spotted houseplant is a great alternative to the poisonous dieffenbachia, or “dumb cane”.
Haworthia (Haworthia fasciata)
Also known as a zebra plant, these cheerful succulents are a great alternative to the poisonous aloe vera plant. Sporting thick, spiny foliage with fun stripes, these little plants are easy to care for and don’t take up much room.
They may not have the same healing properties as aloe but haworthia is still a verdant addition to any windowsill.
Swedish ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus)
While the traditional English ivy plant is toxic to dogs, this creeping beauty is just as prolific and easy to care for.
Preferring bright, but indirect light, Swedish ivy produces small purple and white flowers during the spring and summer months if the conditions are right.
Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)
Hardy and easy to care for, Christmas cactus plants have plump, glossy leaves. A great alternative to the toxic jade plant, these festive plants have red or bright pink flowers if the right conditions are met.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Easy to grow and hard to kill, spider plants are a popular and safe option for pet owners. They thrive in hanging baskets and add a splash of green to any room.
Please note while technically spider plants aren’t toxic to cats, they apparently have compounds related to opium and may attract inappropriate nibbling. So it’s recommended to keep these houseplants out of reach of your cat.
Plants Safe for Dogs and Cats
Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior)
Thriving in places that have low light, the cast iron plant, or Aspidistra elatior, sports robust dark green leaves.
This is the plant for busy people that don’t have the time to devote a lot of time or energy to plant care but want some green in their space. It’s a great alternative to toxic plants such as the zz plant.
Money tree (Pachira aquatica)
If you’re looking for a small tree to grace your home, a money tree is a non-toxic alternative to popular poisonous options such as the sago palm.
Money trees are known to thrive in places with artificial light and are a popular housewarming gift. (In case you’re looking for a fun option for the pet-loving friend in your life.)
African violet (Saintpaulia spp.)
A great choice for the advanced or dedicated indoor gardener, African violets are a beautiful addition to any home. They do require precise care, but their appearance more than makes up for the extra effort.
When the right conditions are met, this bushy plant produces colorful flowers in white, blue, pink, purple and red. They replace toxic plants such as primroses in the pet-friendly home.
Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
A great alternative to the dangerous asparagus fern, Boston ferns are attractive and thrive in hanging baskets.
They grow well in cool spaces with indirect light as well as high humidity and are safe for both dogs and cats.
Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura)
A lovely alternative to toxic leafy plants such as Philodendron, prayer plants are low-maintenance and thrive in hanging baskets.
In addition, these hardy plants are slow-growing and enjoy low, medium and filtered bright light.
Plants Safe for Cats
Cats love plants, though they do have the unfortunate habit of nibbling them to death or launching them off surfaces by “accident”. It’s important to make sure the plants in your home aren’t toxic to your feline friend.
Note: The ASPCA does not recommend allowing your cat to snack on any houseplant, even if they’re nontoxic. One way to keep your cat out of your plants is to place them out of reach on shelves or in hanging baskets, or, offer them cat safe wheatgrass to satisfy their plant-eating urges.
Bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea)
Hardy and easy to grow in low and artificial light, bamboo is a popular choice for a cat-safe indoor plant. Not only are they low maintenance, they can also withstand some kitty abuse without dying.
One thing to watch out for, however, is that not all plants called bamboo are actually bamboo. Plants such as corn plants or nandina, also known as heavenly bamboo and sacred bamboo, are not actual bamboo plants and are toxic to cats. (In addition to dogs and children.)
Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis sp.)
An attractive alternative to lilies, which are all toxic to cats, the Phalaenopsis Orchid is a surprisingly easy to care for flowering plant.
Sporting large white flowers, this orchid is a safe addition to your home that has the added benefit of making you look like an accomplished gardener without all the work.
Bromeliads (Neoregalia spp.)
Colorful and easy to care for, bromeliads are the perfect substitute for dangerous plants such as azaleas.
They come in a wide variety of shapes and colors and are another plant that makes any gardener look like a pro.
Burros tail (Sedum morganianum)
Burro’s tail is a fun succulent with draping, tail-like foliage. This unique succulent thrives in partial sun or bright shade and doesn’t need to be watered often.
The tail shape of this plant may attract a cat to come to play, however, so be mindful where you keep it to avoid a smashed pot and unrepentant kitty.
Lipstick plant (Aeschynanthus humilis)
If you’re looking for a unique cat-safe plant, you can’t go wrong with the lipstick plant. Named for the appearance of its flowers, which are red and peek out from dark tubes, this hardy flowering vine looks stunning in hanging baskets or draped from high shelves. (Again, keep in mind how adventurous and/or playful your cat is.)
In addition to its unique look, the lipstick plant is easy to care for, needing bright light but infrequent watering.
In addition to picking pet-safe plants for your home or garden, there are a few other considerations to be aware of including fertilizer, compost and common insecticides and pesticides. Learn about what to watch out for, and happy planting.