Pet-Safe Plant Choices
By Sarah Heidtke, Master Gardener
There are a lot of us in Dakota County and beyond who love both plants and our pets. Not all plants are compatible with the dogs and cats who live with us. Read on to find out about safer plant choices to make for our furry family members - and a few plants to keep away!
I adopt new houseplants every year around January. Some fresh green helps me through the winter months - whether I’m expanding my collection or filling in for some plants that weren’t a good match for my environment (Master Gardeners get brown plants sometimes, too!) We have beloved dogs and cats in our family, so we want to make sure any plants we have within reach are going to be safe for our pets. If you are gifting houseplants, it is a good idea to keep in mind all of the household residents who can access the plants! I would recommend leaving any plant identification instructions and labels with the plant. This extra care also includes floral bouquets, so watch for danger there (think lilies, tulips and gladiola as examples).
Today, I’m offering some houseplant options that are safer for dogs and cats:
1. Hoya Hearts (Hoya kerrii), just in time for Valentines Day!
2. Boston Fern - Many true ferns are nontoxic. This plant loves humidity and is a great option in a bathroom with a shower. Be careful, though, of plants such as “Asparagus Ferns” (Asparagus densiflorus cv sprengeri), which are not true ferns. These plants are actually related to the lily family - and are not safe for pets!
3. Rubber Plant (Peperomia)
4. Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)
5. African Violets (Saintpaulia spp.)
6. Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
7. Bamboo or Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans) - but be careful of Sago Palms (Cycas revoluta), these are very toxic to pets!
8. Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis sp.)
9. Holiday cactus (Schlumbergera) make great year-round houseplants
10. Many other succulents, such as Echeveria and Burro’s Tail are safe options as well. Check out this article from the Minnesota State Horticultural Society for more helpful information:
A good general rule with all plants is to know your pets and double check plant labels. I have senior dogs that are more inclined to reach for the peanut butter spoon than any old plant, so I feel comfortable keeping riskier plants elevated and check for fallen leaves regularly. Some common plants in my home that are toxic to dogs and cats are Aloe, Amaryllis, Dieffenbachia, English Ivy, Eucalyptus and Philodendron. If you have a new puppy or kitten that can get to and munch plants in the house, you’ll need to adjust accordingly and stick to safer plants. Most plants can cause upset tummies if ingested or chewed on, but the above options will help avoid some more serious consequences. You can search toxicity by plant on the ASPCA’s website here.
If your fur-baby has gotten into something they shouldn’t have, time matters. Here are a few resources if you are concerned your pet has ingested, touched, or inhaled poisonous substances - plants or otherwise:
The University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine recommends Pet Poison Helpline.
- For emergency help, you can call them at 855-764-7661 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org (please note there is an $85 incident fee applicable in this case)
ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) also has a poison control line (888) 426-4435 and some additional resources on their animal poison control website.
Check out this website from beChewy and Monrovia for some great outdoor container “recipes” filled with pet-safe plants. They also have great tips on gardening around pets. You and your pets will have a shopping list ready when the weather warms up in the spring.
Have fun enjoying your plants and healthy pets!
Photo credits: Brooke Nesbitt (1,6), Sarah Heidtke (2,4,5), Wiki Creative Commons (3)