It’s such a wonderful thing to be a pet owner. In return for a little food, water, and shelter, pets offer unconditional love and affection. Personally, I take issue with that old cliché, “they fight like cats and dogs”—just about everyone I know who has both tells me they get along like family! If I could rewrite the expression, I’d change it to reflect a much more common occurrence: “they fight like pets and houseplants”.
Obviously, the best-case scenario is for all the living things under our roof to get along. However, it’s only natural that cats and dogs would get curious about their leafy roommates. Every pet owner knows that, sooner or later, a piece of plant is going to end up in your pet’s mouth. Therefore, keeping cat- and dog-safe houseplants is not just practical—it’s the smart choice. Here are the 8 best pet-friendly plants for your home.
Particularly trendy in the world of pet-friendly houseplants is the lovely echeveria, a succulent plant known for its beautiful rose-like foliage in luminous shades of blue, green, lilac, and blush pink.You may have seen the plastic versions of these guys in home accent stores around Guelph, but they can never truly mimic the appeal of a live one from our garden centre.
Echeveria is easy to care for but very picky about light exposure. It needs a very sunny spot in the house and doesn’t like to be moved or disturbed. Without sufficient light to keep it happy, echeveria will start to stretch out toward the sun. Echeveria is also highly sensitive to excessive water. It needs to be kept in extremely well-drained soil and watered whenever the soil dries out. When watering yours, make sure to point the water stream at the soil (not the rosette!) and give it a good drink until water leaks out of the drainage holes. Discard the water that leaks out immediately.
String of Pearls
Another member of the cat-friendly succulents club is the lovely string of pearls, a quirky-looking plant characterized by long vines of spherical foliage. While your cats might be tempted to play with the tendrils of little green balls, it’s completely safe if they decide to smack a few off to chew on. String of pearl plants have the same care requirements as echeveria, favouring very bright light and sandy, well-drained soil. Try planting your string of pearls in a hanging planter; the vines will eventually spill over, creating a spectacular focal point in the room.
Tillandsia (Air Plants)
My favourite pet-friendly plants are both non-toxic and unique-looking, and tillandsia fits the bill perfectly. These houseplants have a root system that requires no soil, which opens a lot of options for displaying these pet-friendly beauties. You can set them on a piece of driftwood, place them in a decorative terrarium, or simply leave them on your mantel. While air plants are non-toxic, many of the smaller ones could be mistaken for a cat toy by your resident felines, so you may still want to keep them protected from little paws. Tillandsias don’t need much—just bright, indirect light, a spritz of water every few days, and a bi-weekly, 2-hour soak in a cup of plain water.
If you’re in the market for large, cat-friendly houseplants, rubber plants are a perfect choice. These plants have stunning, glossy, dark-green foliage and grow to an impressive 6-10 feet tall indoors. Rubber plants are non-toxic to pets and sturdy enough that most cats won’t be able to knock them over. They do require bright, indirect sunlight and watering whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry. Rubber plants have a tendency to collect dust on their leaves, which can get in the way of photosynthesis, so you’ll need to wipe down the leaves regularly to keep them looking their best. If you already find yourself dusting pet hair off your furniture every week, you’ll hardly be adding an extra step!
If pet-friendly hanging plants are your fancy, nothing beats the spider plant. With their fountain of arching foliage, spider plants look just right in cute macrame baskets or handmade ceramic planters. These guys are also the poster children of low-maintenance houseplants. Spider plants are perfect for folks with new puppies, who may forget to water their plants for weeks as they try to manage feeding, training, and constant cleanups. They can develop root rot if overwatered, so you’re actually better off watering yours a few times per month rather than every other day. Just make sure the soil drains well, and you’re golden!
One of the original houseplants, Boston ferns are easy to care for and completely safe for pets. Their fine-textured fronds add a lush accent to any area of the home, and with such busy-looking foliage, no one will notice if your furry pal steals a nibble here and there. Boston ferns like bright, indirect light and evenly moist soil. The air can get pretty dry in the Guelph area, so take note that your Boston fern craves humidity. You’ll need to mist your fern daily or sit the planter on a shallow dish filled with pebbles and some water. You may find it easiest to keep your Boston fern somewhere near a water source, so it’s easy to keep its soil damp.
Prayer plants are beautiful, eye-catching houseplants with light- and dark-green variegation and pretty pink contrasting venation. They also happen to be completely pet-friendly houseplants. Like Boston ferns, prayer plants prefer bright, indirect light and evenly moist soil. Again, the dry Guelph air is working against you with prayer plants, so keep a mister handy. If you can keep your prayer plant happy, it’ll look positively stunning wherever you keep it—in hanging planters, on your desk, or in large pots where it can grow up to 3 feet tall.
One of my favourites, this charming houseplant has adorable disc-shaped foliage. I always found it amusing how its name sounds a little bit like “pepperoni”, while its foliage also bears some resemblance to the popular pizza topping. Of course, if your dog mistakes it for “pup-peroni”, you’re in the clear—this plant is 100% pet-friendly. Bright, indirect sunlight is just the ticket for this cheerful little plant. Pilea peperomioides is more tolerant of underwatering than overwatering, so let the soil dry out between drinks.
If pets and houseplants have anything in common, it’s how much life they bring into your home. A little extra greenery in each room is a healthy way to bring you and your pets closer to the natural world. Visit Royal City Nursery today to stock up on this pet-safe stunners!