5 Pet-Friendly Houseplants and What to Avoid

Olivia Elsher

Feb 21, 2023


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Indoor plants are all the rage as more self-proclaimed “plant parents” took up gardening during pandemic lockdowns. According to a 2021 Garden Center magazine report, indoor plant sales increased 18% year-over-year (YoY) from 2020 to 2021. 

The Floral Marketing Fund’s (FMF) Consumer Houseplant Purchasing Study 2021 further highlighted the dramatic impacts of COVID-19 on the horticultural industry. For instance, 52% of respondents owned one houseplant, while nearly 12% owned more than six. Additionally, about 72% said they strongly agree or agree that their plants make them happier. 

Meanwhile, nearly 23 million households adopted a pet at the height of the pandemic, meaning plant-loving pet parents must find greenery their furry friends can live amongst safely. After all, the last thing any dog mom or cat dad wants is for their beloved pet to get sick. 

Here are five pet-friendly houseplants that are easy to care for and other plants you should avoid to keep your animals safe from harm.

1. Spider Plant

Spider plants are non-toxic to animals and ideal for beginner growers. Usually, spider plants grow between 12 and 15 inches tall with broad, fleshy roots that store water to help the plant survive infrequent watering.

Spider plants might also produce small flowers ideal for propagating and planting in other places during the summer growing season.

2. Boston Fern

Not all ferns are considered pet-friendly houseplants, but the Boston fern is an exception. Its feathery leaves can grow to about three feet long, making this plant a stunning addition to your indoor greenery. 

Boston ferns don’t need much to thrive — keeping them in an area between 60–75° Fahrenheit with indirect sunlight is sufficient. However, providing occasional direct sunlight and humidity can encourage plant growth.

3. Christmas Cactus

According to PetPoisonHotline.com, the white sap in poinsettias might cause mild sickness in cats and dogs, including vomiting, drooling and diarrhea. While a visit to the vet may not be imperative if your faithful friend ingests it — unless symptoms are severe — nobody wants unnecessary trouble or concern during the holidays.

A much safer pet-friendly houseplant is a Christmas cactus. Also known as a “holiday cactus,” these perennials thrive indoors all year round, blooming bright red and pink florals in the winter and every year after with proper care.

Prune your Christmas cactus by twisting the ends or using scissors shortly after it blooms to allow a new growth cycle. Removing up to one-third of the plant per year is possible without harming it. 

4. Hoya Varieties

Plant parents love how hoyas drape over their pots’ sides — a beautiful plant to position on a shelf or bookcase. Even better, the University of Connecticut says all hoya varieties are considered non-toxic to humans and pets and can even improve indoor air quality.

Those prone to loving their plants to death might prefer hoyas’ low-care requirements. Hoyas don’t particularly enjoy being moved around or repotted and require very little light or watering. 

5. Peacock Plant

Few pet-friendly houseplants are as unique and visually captivating as the peacock plant. Perhaps a little trickier to maintain than other indoor flora, peacock plants boast dramatic green, white, gold and burgundy-striped leaves. 

Peacock plants prefer bright sunlight — you’ll even see its leaves move and spread open at the start of the day. Just keep it out of the direct sun to avoid scorching the plant.

Toxic Houseplants to Avoid

Try not to stress too much about buying pet-friendly houseplants. Vertical planting is an easy way to get toxic plants off the floor and away from your fur baby. Just ensure they’re held up with waterproof materials like metal or plastic to prevent damaging walls and floors.

However, seeing that plants tend to shed their leaves and tempt naturally curious cats and dogs, there are certain toxic species you should absolutely avoid.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), lantana, hydrangeas and azaleas might cause mild stomach upset unless consumed in large amounts. In contrast, the seeds and nuts from sago palms could induce severe symptoms like blood clots, liver damage and death.

Of all the toxic houseplants to avoid, lilies might be the most dangerous for cats. Even licking the pollen off their fur could cause fatal kidney failure within three days, while signs of lily poisoning might appear within the first 12 hours after exposure.

Keep Your Furry Friends Safe With Pet-Friendly Houseplants

With so many pet-friendly houseplants to choose from, you can spruce up your interiors and keep your furry friends safe from harm. Be sure to research a plant’s toxicity to your dog or cat before purchasing to avoid a trip to the vet or worse. 

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