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Sites like Bloomscape have started curating plants safe for cats and dogs.
Pets and plants can both bring a lot of joy into a home. Before I became a plant person and later adopted a dog, my studio apartment felt like a lifeless box of flat white walls that read more “dorm room” than “oasis.” Now when I come home, I’m greeted by a wagging tail and a bunch of bright, happy greenery. It puts a smile on my face every time.
I recently started noticing plant shops like The Sill and Bloomscape advertising collections of pet-safe plants—which in all honesty, I hadn’t realized was a thing I needed to worry about. Thankfully Mr. Dog and I haven’t had any drama in the plant-eating department, but a quick Google search informed me this can be pretty serious for dogs and even more so for cats.
A lot of popular houseplants including the weeping fig tree (Ficus benjamina) and the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) are toxic to pets. I’m noting the scientific names for each plant because it’s important to be specific when shopping—a lot of plants have a bunch of different common names, but when it comes to toxicity you really want to be certain about what you’re bringing into your home.
While some plants with spiny features (like cacti) may not toxic, it’s also a good idea for pet-owners to avoid these plants. It’s not worth the drama of your pet getting pricked somewhere painful or trying to digest something poky. It won’t be fun for your pet and the vet bill won’t be fun for you. And even with non-toxic plants, it’s not a bad idea to keep plants out of reach if you can—hanging plants is great, or you can display them on higher shelves. Ultimately, you know your pet and their curiosity level and access points.
It’s important to shop by scientific name for plants safe for cats and dogs.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has whipped up an exhaustive list of non-toxic plants for cats and dogs, which all of the picks below have been vetted against. While some plants are toxic for cats and not dogs or the other way around, everything on this list is safe for both cats and dogs, just to make it easy.
You’ll find a mix of easy growing plants, hanging plants, tree-sized greenery, and succulents—a little something for every skill level and style. Jot down the names and take them to your local nursery, or order live plants online and have them sent to your door from companies like FTD, Etsy, and even Amazon.
If you’re looking for something oversized to make a statement, check out the banana tree (Musa). It’s a pet-safe option that makes a great stand in for large house plants like the weeping fig, which is unfortunately toxic to cats and dogs. For the banana plant to thrive, give it plenty of room to grow, water often, and place in bright light. Also suitable outdoors.
Add a colorful punch to your greenery with the nerve plant (Fittonia albivenis) also called the mosaic plant. This easy growing house plant is pet safe and thrives in low light. It only needs moderate watering to stay happy, so as long as the soil isn’t too wet or too dry you can expect healthy, pretty leaves.
When the central red bloom of the bromeliad (Bromeliaceae) opens, it reveals a long lasting bloom surrounded by elegant but hearty green leaves, none of which will harm your sweet pet. This plant does well in bright spaces but avoid direct sunlight. Water weekly and you’ll have a gorgeous centerpiece that far outlasts flowers.
The striking Calathea has patterned leaves with purple undersides and is perfectly safe for cats and dogs. These stunners do well in low light—too much light will actually cause the unique foliage to fade. They’re tropical and love humidity, making them a great plant for the bathroom.
One of the best low-maintenance ways to ensure your plants are safe for pets? Opt for something artificial that looks like the real deal, such as this faux Sansevieria from our partners at Nearly Natural. Although it’s a manufactured version of the ever-popular “snake plant,” reviewers have said that many who see it in person don’t believe it’s fake. The plant is 33 inches tall with a pot diameter of 8 inches. Bonus? You never have to water it.
The parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) adds tropical flair to even the dreariest of spaces with its tall, happy, non-toxic fronds. This easy growing palm is happiest in indirect sun light and can tolerate low light, but will get crispy in direct sun. With careful repotting, this little guy can grow well over six feet tall.
The spider plant (chlorophytum) is non-toxic to dogs and cats and grows beautifully as a hanging plant, far out of reach. It’s also a pretty easy plant to care for, able to tolerate a range of light, moisture, and soil conditions. For best results, place in bright indirect light and water frequently.
The Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) is another great pet-safe option that can be hung high for extra peace of mind. These easy-care plants can thrive indoors with medium to bright light or outdoors with shade (very cute for the patio or porch, so long as it doesn’t get direct sunlight all day). Keep the soil moist and these guys will grow, grow, grow.
The playful ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is as easygoing as its name suggests, requiring little care to do its thing. Water every few weeks and let it sit in the sun to thrive. And no worries if your pet takes an interest in those long green leaves—a nibble of this non-toxic plant won’t hurt them.
The Peperomia species is diverse (and entirely pet-safe), but how sweet is the watermelon-esque variety? These popular houseplants are easy to care for, preferring indirect sun and while they aren’t totally drought tolerant, they’ll be fine if you space out on watering. Unfortunately, no watermelon can be expected to fruit. Sorry.
The distinct zebra plant is a member of the Hawthoria genus, which resemble aloe but—unlike aloe—are safe for pets. These succulents are easy to care for, requiring bright light and watering when the soil gets dry, about twice a month.