Plants are magical organisms which feed us, clean our air and have a number of other uses. But when you have pets, it can be tricky to choose the right plants to keep at home.
Some animals, especially cats, like to play with plants while you are gone, sometimes even nibble on them, and dogs may lick them, so it is important to make sure your houseplants aren’t toxic for animals. Some of the most common houseplants and flowers, such as Lilies, can be very dangerous for our pets (in this case cats).
Note that ingesting a lot of almost anything can be harmful to an animal and cause indigestion. Here, we are looking at plants you can safely have in your home and ingesting a few leaves or flowers won’t harm your pet. If however your cat or dog (or rabbit or other common pet) may take down the entire pot and eat the plant whole, then you should reconsider the idea of plants within reach of them.
3 pet-safe, air-purifying plants
Despite its name, the Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is one of the best indoor plants; it ticks all the boxes. If the name puts you off, just call it by one of its nicknames – Ribbon Plant, sounds much more pleasant.
It is pet safe, champion air cleaner, and easy to care for. The Spider Plant (sorry, Ribbon Plant) was tested by NASA back in the day in a study looking at air-purifying plants and showed amazing results. It removes carbon monoxide (as most plants do) but also Xylene and Toluene which can be found in houses due to leather, paints, adhesives, gasoline and cigarette smoke.
While some palms can be dangerous for pets, we picked out four types which will purify the air in your home and cause no harm to your furry friend. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix Roebelenii) adds a beautiful spot of green and white in your home and makes for a beautiful houseplant.
You could also get an Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens), which is on the larger end of houseplants. While it is non-toxic for pets, make sure you get a sturdy pot for it as some pets may still try to have a play, and if it falls over it could get a little messy. It may be best placed in a corner to lighten it up.
If you have a sunny place in your house, consider a Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) which grows to be quite big and tall and therefore filters air quite well. Or opt for a Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) which prefers cooler room temperatures and removes Formaldehyde, Ammonia and Xylene.
In the ferns, you should stick to two types which are non-toxic to your pets:
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is easy to care for and is safe – even if a young kitten or puppy decided to go have a little tasting session. It looks beautiful on a table or shelf and removes Formaldehyde and Xylene.
Alternatively, if you can find it in our parts of the world, a Kimberley Queen Fern (Nephrolepis obliterata) is one of the only pet-friendly plants to filter out Benzene, a chemical found in plastics, resins and synthetic fibres. It’s a plant native to Australia which will brighten up a room and doesn’t need too much care if you are a newbie.
3 pet-safe herbs
A lot of herbs are toxic for animals, but basil is a safe choice to grow in your kitchen and is a herb best enjoyed fresh. It’s an asset in your cooking and no danger to your pet if they decide to chew on the leaves.
Roast potatoes and veggies are not the same without Rosemary – even better, fresh Rosemary.
While it isn’t toxic to pets, consuming large amounts of it would cause a cat’s stomach to be upset and a dog may have kidney or liver problems. However, this is only when eating big amounts; having one plant in your house does not present a danger and Rosemary is actually good for dogs because of its iron, calcium and B6, so you could use a little if you are making dog treats.
Sage is another safe – and recommended – herb for pet owners.
Again, while eating the entire plant would cause an upset stomach or vomiting, most cats will enjoy a little bit of dried and ground leaves in their homemade cat food or treats.
Similarly, they are non-toxic for dogs (unless ingested in large quantities) and can be used in your dog treats – and, of course, in your own cooking. Sage butter anyone?
3 safe plants with other benefits
You may find a lot of information telling you Lavender is dangerous for your pet, but this is relating to the essential oils. The plant itself is not a danger. So while you should put the essential oils in a safe place, the plant itself is not toxic (unless ingested in unusually large quantities as explained above), as it only contains a small concentration of linalool, which causes the danger to animals.
The advantages of having Lavender in your house is that its smell is relaxing and can treat insomnia and anxiety. You can also use the plant to make sachets to keep in wardrobes and drawers.
Most mints are safe for dogs as you may have seen it is often included in dog treats, especially chewy treats to help with bad breath.
You need to be careful though: Peppermint is safe and can even be used to soothe a dogs nausea (in small quantities) while peppermint is good for their breath and repels fleas but can (in large quantities) cause vomiting and English Pennyroyal is toxic for dogs.
If you have cats, then catmint is safe to grow while garden mint may cause stomach problems for felines.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a great plant to have at home and it is non-toxic for your pets. Not only can you use it on your cat or dog (to treat indigestion for example) but also for yourself. It is used in traditional medicine as tea to help you sleep and aid a better digestion.