​5 Pet-Safe Plants (& How to Keep Your Furry Friends Away from Them, Anyway)

​5 Pet-Safe Plants (& How to Keep Your Furry Friends Away from Them, Anyway)

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Katie Holdefehr
May 23, 2016

If you scroll through any of our most-admired house tours, you're likely to spot two things: pets and plants. Caught on camera, they appear to be living together in perfect harmony, but as most pet- and plant-owners can tell you, a behind-the-scenes battle often plays out. If your pets love munching on leaves and digging in the dirt, it's a good idea to bring only non-toxic varieties into your home. And while we would choose Fido over a fiddle leaf fig tree any day, there's no reason not to let your houseplants fight back with some pet-friendly protection.

Below are some of our favorite pet-approved plants that are non-toxic for both dogs and cats. To get the full list of safe and harmful varieties, visit the ASPCA's plant database.

Boston Fern

Oversized, scene-stealing Boston ferns are non-toxic to both dogs and cats. Hang them from the ceiling, as far away from furniture as possible, where it's unlikely even the most acrobatic of cats will be able to reach them.

Spider Plant

If this is your first foray into pet-plant cohabitation, try a non-toxic spider plant. They're easy to care for (just avoid over-watering, which can lead to root rot), and they often sprout baby plants called spiderettes, which can be propagated. Before long, you'll have an entire forest for your cat to prowl.

Chamaedorea Palm

Perch a leafy palm plant on a ledge your pup can't reach. When you're at the nursery, double-check the type of palm tree you're buying. Many types, including dwarf palms and feather palms, are pet-safe, but low-growing sago palms are toxic to dogs.

Zebra Cactus

See, proof that there are pet-safe plants with big personalities. This graphically striped variety of succulent, also known as a Zebra Haworthia, would look great on a high ledge. But be careful: This plant looks similar to aloe, which is toxic to both dogs and cats.

Staghorn Fern

A plant with antlers is a must-have for any apartment with pets. This sculptural statement piece is mounted on a wooden board, so it can be transported wherever your animals are least likely to pounce on it.

How to Keep the Peace

While all of the houseplants above are completely non-toxic, "It's still wise to ensure your pets don't ingest them," says Inga Fricke, Director of Pet Retention Programs at The Humane Society of the United States. "Consuming even safe plants in quantity, along with potting soil and potential fertilizers, can at a minimum cause stomach upset," she warns. Here are her tips:

  • Always keep plants on tables or shelves where pets can't reach them.
  • Don't put dangling tablecloths or runners under plants—pets might use these as tug toys.
  • If you have cats, try putting aluminum foil, covered by a layer of soil, inside potted plants. Cats don't like the feeling of foil under their paws.
  • Line the rim of the planter or the edge of the shelf with double-sided tape, another material cats hate to walk on.
  • Avoid placing plants on narrow ledges or shelves where your furry friends might knock them over. Toppled plants not only make a mess, but sharp broken edges could cut your pet's paws.
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