Over the past few years, we’ve been spending more time at home. Some of us developed a passion for plants. Some decided to get a pet, and most of us decided to do both. If you love plants, chances are you have at least one furry companion who might find your brand new succulent interesting. Although not all pets are keen on interacting and nibbling on plants. You can never know what might spark an interest. It’s always best to be on the safe side by growing ornamentals that are non-toxic. The good news is there are many pet safe plants available on the market, so you won’t ever feel like your home is lacking that unique vibe that exotic plants bring.
Before we get into more detail, it is important to mention that non-toxic doesn’t always mean 100% safe. Some pets might get an upset stomach by ingesting anything in large quantities, including plants that are not poisonous. Another thing that you should avoid is using chemical fertilizers and pesticides. These chemicals can cause health problems in both humans and animals, so it’s always best to avoid them altogether.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most popular non-toxic pet safe plants that you can safely grow around animals and at some that are extremely dangerous and should be avoided.
Examples of Pet Safe Plants
If you are looking for unique-looking ornamentals that are perfect pet safe plants to grow around your pets, succulents and cacti are perfect options. They are low-maintenance and don’t need much to thrive, so you won’t have a hard time growing them even if you are a novice gardener.
There are a lot of succulents and cacti that are non-toxic, so let’s take a look at some of our favourite ones.
Haworthia Fasciata commonly referred to as Zebra Haworthia is a non-toxic plant for both dogs and cats, according to the ASPCA website. Zebra Haworthias are small and adorable succulents that are native to South Africa and that happen to be among the easiest plants to care for. They are appreciated by gardeners thanks to their unique succulent leaves which grow in rosettes.
There are many different types of Haworthias available on the market, so there are plenty of pet safe plants to choose from such as Haworthia attenuata, which is just as attractive as Haworthia Fasciata but with slightly different texture, H. cymbiformis (Cathedral Window Haworthia), H. cooperi, H. limifolia (White Fairy Washboard), H. truncata (Horse’s Teeth), etc. To grow healthy and happy Haworthias, make sure you place them in a location where they get plenty of light such as a sunny windowsill and that you water them once or twice a month, whenever the soil feels dry to the touch.
Sedums commonly referred to as Stonecrops, are another perfect example of non-toxic succulents that you can safely grow anywhere. Sedum is a large family of flowering plants with hundreds of members that come in various shapes, sizes, and colours. A very popular and unique-looking Sedum plant is Sedum morganianum, commonly referred to as Burro’s Tail or Donkey Tail. This interesting succulent produces trailing stems covered in fleshy leaves. Other popular Sedums include S. Cauticola (Cliff Stonecrop), S.sieboldii (October Daphne), S. reflexum (Jenny’s Stonecrop), S. Spurium (Caucasian Stonecrop), and Sedum Autumn Joy.
According to the ASPCA, Echeveria succulents such as Echeveria glauca (Blue Echeveria) and Echeveria elegans (Mexican Snowball) are non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses. These succulents are very delicate and elegant, and they make perfect windowsill plants or desk companions. They need plenty of morning light, so a South-facing window sill is an ideal location for them. Echeveria glauca, Echeveria elegans, and other types of Echeverias can look quite different, but they are all unique-looking, safe, and will surely spruce up any dull corner.
Commonly referred to as Christmas cacti, Schlumbergera plants are very popular worldwide. They make great gifts, especially during the holiday season. The best good news is that unlike other Christmas plants such as Poinsettia and Mistletoe, Schlumbergera isn’t toxic to pets. According to ASPCA, Schlumbergera is completely safe to keep in your home, as it doesn’t even have spines or thorns making it a great option when looking into pet safe plants. This tropical plant is low-maintenance, so you won’t have any trouble keeping it alive. All it needs is plenty of bright, indirect light, occasional misting, and occasional watering when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Sempervivums, also known as ‘Hens and Chicks’, are worth growing both indoors and outdoors. They are non-toxic and are very easy to grow and care for. Sempervivum succulents tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions and they come in many different shapes, textures, and colours.
Other examples of non-toxic succulents: Aeonium, Graptoveria, Gasteria, Lithops, Graptopetalum, Dragon Fruit plant, Pachyphitum, Portulacaria Afra,
Now that you know what succulents to choose, you might be curious to learn what succulents to avoid. While there are many succulent plants that are perfectly safe to grow around pets, there are others that can be quite dangerous.
Toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Although it is a plant that has many beneficial properties to humans, it can cause serious health problems in pets if ingested.
These plants are quite toxic to animals. Agave plants contain oxalates which can cause a wide range of unpleasant reactions including digestive problems, skin irritations, and rashes.
These succulent plants contain a highly toxic milky sap, also known as latex. This can irritate skin and eyes and that is poisonous when ingested. Euphorbia sap is generally a natural deterrent to herbivores and other animals. However curious cats and dogs might not be cautious enough, so it’s best to avoid growing this plant. The Euphorbia plant family is large and diverse. It is important to mention that all varieties of Euphorbia produce toxic sap and as a result are not pet safe plants.
These plants are very popular thanks to their attractive blooms and forgiving nature. They don’t need much to thrive and are perfect ornamentals if you are not the owner of curious pets. But, if you are reading this article, chances are you have at least one furry companion. So your life will be easier if you avoid growing Kalanchoe plants. All members of the Kalanchoe plant family are toxic. K. delagoensis has even become a problem in various areas of Queensland where they’ve escaped cultivation and spread uncontrollably.
Everyone is familiar with the majestic Crassula ovata succulent. Commonly known as the Jade plant, but not everyone knows that this plant can be quite dangerous to pets. Jade plants are very poisonous to cats, dogs, horses, and other animals. Other members of the Crassula family such as C. arborescens are also poisonous.
Another popular ornamental that can be found in most plant nurseries but that is very toxic is Sansevieria. Commonly referred to as the Snake Plant, this beautiful ornamental can cause a wide range of gastrointestinal problems.
All parts of Senecio plants are very poisonous. So, it’s obviously not among the pet safe plants list. Cats might be tempted to interact with Senecio plants because they have dangling or cascading foliage. Some types of Senecio are more dangerous than others as they can cause liver damage. But it’s important to remember that all members of the Senecio plant family are poisonous.
Pet Safe Plants: Non-toxic Flowering Plants
If you enjoy gardening, you surely like to have plenty of flowering ornamentals around. Flowering ornamentals can bring colour to any room. They can brighten up your day, but they can also be a problem when your furry companions start munching on them. To be on the safe side, opt for non-toxic flowering plants. Here are some great examples:
According to the ASPCA, African violets are non-toxic to dogs, cats, and other pets. African Violets are cute and colourful ornamentals that produce clusters of purple, white, or blue flowers. They have fuzzy leaves that are also very attractive and they make perfect windowsill or balcony plants. If you’re not familiar with African violets, all you have to know is that these plants don’t enjoy getting their leaves wet. Other than that, they’ll thrive as long as you provide them with loose, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, light watering, and bright, indirect light.
Another great example of pet safe plants that is also a flowering plant that is pet-friendly and safe is the orchid. We’ve checked the ASPCA website, and learned that Phalaenopsis orchids, Tiger orchids, and other members of the Orchidaceae family are non-toxic to cats and dogs. However, you should still protect these majestic flowering ornamentals from curious pets because ingesting them might cause mild discomforts such as an upset stomach, vomiting, and other digestive problems. To be on the safe side, place your orchids in hanging baskets or on high shelves, to keep them out of reach.
If you’re looking for a perfect gift, check out our orchid section. We offer a wide range of products including classic white orchids, colourful Phalaenopsis orchids, birthday orchids, and elegant gift boxes that include a beautiful orchid and a bottle of champagne.
Gloxinias are popular gift plants and you’ve surely noticed them in nurseries and flower shops around different holidays such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Their flowers are stunning and you can offer them as gifts without worrying about them being poisonous. Gloxinias are non-toxic to animals, so they can be grown anywhere and without too much effort. Making its great option when looking for pet safe plants. All they need is a brightly-lit location and evenly moist soil.
These attractive flowering ornamentals are non-toxic and produce long-lasting blooms that look tropical and unique. They make great gifts and if you’ve received one and are worried that your pets might be tempted to munch on its leaves, there is no need to worry. Bromeliads are non-toxic. The Bromeliaceae family is very diverse; it contains thousands of species of plants including many popular ornamentals such as the pineapple plant, Tillandsia, Hechtia, Aechmea, Quesnelia, Guzmania, Billbergia, Dyckia, and Vriesea and they are all non-toxic and safe to grow around curious pets.
Beautiful and timeless, roses are the perfect plants to grow, both indoors and outdoors. We adore roses and we are happy to share that they are perfectly safe for dogs, cats, and other animals. Roses are edible and their petals have many different uses, from making potpourri, essential oils, rose water, syrups tea, and even jam and other desserts. Another amazing thing about the rose family is its diversity and the fact that they come in so many different colours, shapes, and sizes. So, if you don’t have a lot of room but love roses, you can still grow a miniature rose on your windowsill.
Beloved by gardeners worldwide, Petunias are perfect ornamental plants that are non-toxic and that produce vibrant and colourful blooms. They have a long flowering period and can be grown as either annuals or perennials, depending on the region. You can grow petunias both indoors and outdoors, in hanging baskets, containers, and even as groundcovers. Some petunias have a pleasant scent and there are many different types to choose from such as multiflora, Grandiflora, floribunda, spreading or trailing petunias, etc.
Did you know that you can have a lush and colourful garden that’s filled with non-toxic plants? Zinnias are another example of a safe and non-poisonous flowering plant that you can grow without constantly worrying about your furry buddies getting an upset stomach or worse. There are many attractive Zinnia varieties that you can grow both indoors and outdoors such as Zinnia elegans, California giant, colour crackle, crystal white, dahlia flowered mix, double Zahara yellow, Peppermint stick, and more.
Another perfect addition to a pet owner’s garden is the beautiful camellia. This elegant flowering ornamental can be grown indoors in containers, or outdoors, and it produces beautiful pink blooms. The most popular types of camellia plants are the common Camellia (Thea japonica) and Camellia sinensis. These plants are safe to grow around pets, but it’s important to mention that their leaves are commonly used to make tea and contain caffeine which can cause some discomfort if ingested in large quantities. It’s very unlikely for pets to consume large quantities of camellia leaves, but the plant might be dangerous for small children.
Toxic Flowering Plants
When it comes to plants that produce beautiful blooms, it’s safe to say that most of them are potentially dangerous to animals if ingested. If you’re growing a type of flowering plant that isn’t mentioned in the non-toxic section, we recommend double-checking to make sure the plant is safe. To make things a bit easier, let’s take a quick look at some of the most dangerous, yet popular, ornamental flowering plants.
All parts of the oleander plant are poisonous for humans and animals. Oleanders have such a high level of toxicity that even water can be contaminated by leaves or flowers. In addition to that, its sap can irritate the skin and the smoke from burning oleander plants is toxic. Even a small amount can cause severe health problems and even death.
All members of the aconite family (dogbane, monkshood, witches’ bane) are highly toxic. These plants contain a very dangerous toxin – aconitine that can be fatal to both humans and animals if any part of the plant is ingested.
Lily of the Valley
This delicate looking plant can wreak havoc if ingested. All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause a wide range of health problems. The leaves, the flowers, and roots, of the Lily of the Valley plant contain highly toxic cardiac glycosides.
This flowering plant is as toxic as Lily of the Valley as it also contains cardiac glycosides.
Contains lectin and wisterin glycosides, so all parts of the plant are toxic, but the seeds and pods are the most dangerous parts.
All members of the Liliaceae (the Lily family) are toxic to animals, especially cats. The leaves, the blooms, the stems, and even the pollen can cause serious health issues. A cat can get lily intoxication just by sniffing the pollen, so be extra careful about keeping these ornamentals in your home.
Irises, hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, and pretty much all types of bulb flowers are poisonous. You don’t have to banish all bulbs from your garden, but it’s best to be cautious when planting them, to place them on high shelves, and to keep an eye on your pets. Some bulb flowers are more dangerous than others. For instance, Calla lilies, Arum lilies, Peace lilies, and Peruvian lilies are considered low risk. They aren’t safe but aren’t fatal either. They contain oxalate crystals that can irritate the tissue and the internal organs. Alliums, daffodils, narcissus, and hyacinths are more toxic, but usually not lethal. Lilies, tulips, and crocus are the most toxic ones and can be lethal.
Contain cyanogenic glycosides, commonly referred to as cyanide so all parts of the plant are poisonous to animals.
Rhododendron and Azalea
These plants contain grayanotoxin, a dangerous neurotoxin that can be fatal to cats, dogs, horses, and other animals.
Other plants that are highly toxic and dangerous to animals: Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpet), Ipomoea (Morning Glory), Delphinium (Larkspur), Atropa Belladonna (Deadly nightshade), Strychnine tree, Castanospermum australe (Black Bean), Milky mangrove, Spurge, Nettles, Gympie Gympie.
Pet Safe Plants: Non-toxic Foliage Ornamentals
Foliage plants have a wide range of benefits such as elevating the interior design, purifying the air, reducing our stress levels, and regulating the humidity in our homes. Studies have shown that foliage ornamentals can improve our physical and mental health, but it is important to choose plants that are safe for our pets as well. There are many non-toxic foliage ornamentals on the market and our furry companions. Here are some of our favourites:
Peperomia is a wonderful family of tropical plants that are non-toxic and pet-friendly. Commonly referred to as radiator plants, peperomias thrive indoors, especially if they get plenty of a lot of bright, indirect light, a warm environment, and some water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Commonly referred to as prayer-plants, Calatheas are friendly houseplants that are non-toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets. They can adapt to low-light environments and they don’t need much to thrive, so in our opinion, they make perfect indoor plants. There are many types of Calathea varieties that you can choose from such as Calathea orbifolia (Round-leaf Prayer Plant), Calathea makoyana (Peacock Plant), Calathea Crocata (Eternal Flame), Calathea Ornata (Pin-stripe Plant), Calathea Zebrina (Zebra Plant), Calathea Lancifolia (Rattlesnake Plant), etc.
Most true ferns (Polypodiopsida family of plants) are non-toxic to cats and dogs, even when ingested. According to the ASPCA website, some examples of non-toxic ferns include Staghorn fern, Boston fern, Mother fern, Maidenhair fern, Bird’s nest firs, Button fern, Sword fern, and Rabbit’s foot fern. While eating them in large amounts can cause digestive issues, ferns are rarely a cause for concern as they don’t cause any serious or long-term health issues. However, it is very important to be cautious when it comes to plants that have ‘fern’ in their name but are not actual ferns such as the Asparagus fern and Foxtail fern which are toxic to cats and dogs. These two ferns belong to the Asparagaceae family and are not true ferns.
Containing hundreds of beautiful and most importantly non-toxic plants, the Pilea family of plants is rich, diverse, and perfect for our list. Although they belong to the nettle family, Pilea plants lack unpleasant stinging hairs, so they are completely harmless. Easy to care for and available in all plant nurseries and shops, Pileas make perfect house plants. Some of the most attractive and popular Pilea plants are Pilea peperomioides (Chinese Money Plant), Pilea cadirei minima (Aluminum Plant), Pilea ‘Dark Mistery’, Pilea involucrata (Friendship Plant), Pilea libanensis (Baby Tears), Pilea spruceana (Silver Tree), Pilea nummulariifolia (Creeping Charlie).
Ccommonly referred to as spider plant, spider ivy, or ribbon plant. Chlorophytum comosum is another non-toxic plant that you can safely grow in your home. Spider plant is non-toxic and won’t cause any problems if ingested. It also happens to be one of the easiest and most adaptable ornamentals to grow indoors. It can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. All it needs to thrive is well-drained soil, plenty of bright indirect light, and a little water every now and then.
If you’re looking for bold statement plants that are non-toxic for pets, you’ll be happy to learn that many ornamental palms are perfectly safe. The parlour palm (Chamaedorea elegans), Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens), ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), Chinese palm plants (Trachycarpus fortune). All are a few examples of palms that have non-toxic leaves and stems. And you can safely grow indoors without worrying about your curious munchers.
Probably the most interesting and unusual plant that you can find on the market. The Venus flytrap is non-toxic and perfectly safe to grow around your pets. Although it has a reputation as being a carnivorous plant. The Venus flytrap is only dangerous to small insects and is a pet safe plant. This plant is quite low maintenance. As long as it has access to tiny insects that I can trap and digest in peace. When it reaches maturity, the Venus flytrap can produce blooms each spring.
True bamboo plants that belong to the bambusoideae family are non-toxic and safe to grow around pets. The leaves of bamboo plants are very nutritious containing up to 22% protein. The only thing you need to be careful with is fertilization. Bamboo plants require fertilization in spring and fall, and chemical fertilizers can be toxic to pets if ingested. But, if you manage to avoid chemicals, your bamboo won’t do any harm.
Other pet-friendly plants that you can grow safely around your furry companions are various edible herbs. Growing herbs is a win-win situation because you get fresh condiments for your kitchen and attractive houseplants that are non-toxic. A few examples of non-toxic herbs that are safe for cats and dogs include catnip, rosemary, cilantro, mint, turmeric, sage, basil, dill, and thyme. So all the good ones.
Toxic Foliage Ornamentals
Although there are plenty of herbs that are safe to grow around curious cats and dogs, there are a few ones that are quite toxic and that you should avoid growing such as oregano, marjoram, tarragon, bay leaf, chives, borage, chamomile, lavender, lemongrass, and scallions.
Certain palm-like ornamentals
Although many commercially sold palms are non-toxic, it is always best to double-check before making a purchase. Because there are a few poisonous palm-like plants (not actual palms) that are very popular such as the sago palm (Cycas revoluta), Dracaenas, Scheffleras, and Philodendrons.
We’ve mentioned that true bamboo is safe, but what about ‘untrue’ bamboo? The problem with bamboo is the commercially sold ‘Lucky Bamboo’. Which belongs to the Dracaena plant family and isn’t real bamboo. As mentioned above, Dracaena plants, including Lucky Bamboo are toxic to pets. Heavenly bamboo/sacred bamboo (Nandina domestica) is also poisonous as it contains cyanide.
Other popular foliage ornamentals that are poisonous to animals: Pothos, Monstera, Dieffenbachia, Alocasia, Australian Ivy Palm, Peace Lily, Eucalyptus, Epipremnum (Devil’s Ivy), Sansevieria, Portulaca, Caladium, Ficus, Ivy.
What to do if a pet eats ornamental plants?
If you have reason to believe that your pet has chewed or ingested parts of an ornamental plant, the first thing you need to do is to check whether the plant is toxic or not. If the pet shows signs of distress, you can take a photo of the plant and go straight to the vet. Experienced vets are very familiar with poisonous plants. So they will be able to determine whether your pet is experiencing poisoning.
The quantity of plants consumed isn’t always important because some plants are more poisonous than others. It is always best to be on the safe side and to take your pet to the vet as soon as it happens. Unless you are absolutely sure that the plant is non-toxic.
It is important to note that cats don’t always show obvious signs of distress. This is because they have a complex defence mechanism that prevents them from asking for help. Cats can hide certain symptoms, except for vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhoea (which are major red flags that indicate poisoning).
Step by step guide
- Take a photo of the plant, remove it, and remove any material from your pet’s fur, skin, and mouth.
- Wash your pet with warm water and a non-irritating soap if necessary.
- If you think the plant may be poisonous, call the vet and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.
As you can see, many popular and attractive ornamental plants are perfectly safe to grow. Having them won’t have you worrying about your pets when you leave the house. On the plus side, you can fill your home with pet-friendly attractive succulents, luxurious orchids, and tropical palms. On the minus side, you might have also learned that some of your favourite plants are quite toxic. If that’s the case, you might want to find a new home for them. It might be a good idea to gift these plants to someone who doesn’t have animals or small children. With so many plant lovers out there, finding a great home for your Dracaena won’t be that difficult. You’ll feel much better knowing that your furry companion is safe.