Houseplants add warmth and coziness to any room of the house. But if you're also a pet parent, you should know there are a lot of indoor plants that can make your fur baby very sick. "Many plants contain chemical compounds that can be harmful or fatal to pets," says Kevin Kelley, DVM, emergency service head at Bluepearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital. "Toxicities can range from GI upset to cardiovascular symptoms to neurologic side effects such as seizures, coma and death." If you're a pet parent, it's imperative that you choose pet-friendly plants when adding greenery to your space.
Common houseplants that are toxic include snake plant, pothos, and aloe vera. But some plants are more dangerous than others. Kelley says the most common plant toxicity vets see is caused by marijuana, whether it's from refined products, buds, or smokable versions. Symptoms include erratic muscle control, lethargy, urinary incontinence, or death. Other toxic plants which can lead to death include lilies for cats, sago palms for dogs, and ornamental pepper plants for both cats and dogs.
If you have a pet with a history of munching on plants (or a new fur baby whose habits you don't know yet), it's best to keep your houseplants out of reach. True, that's easier said than done—especially with cats— but it's necessary for your pet's safety and your own peace of mind. If you've got a persistent pet who won't leave your houseplants alone, get rid of your plants or keep your plants on an inaccessible shelf high out of reach, in a room where pets aren't allowed, or hanging so that pets can't get to them, says Kelley.
The good news is that many houseplants don't contain toxic substances, so they're safer choices around potential nibblers. But don't forget that any plant, even ones considered pet-friendly, can cause vomiting and tummy upset if your pet ingests them in large enough quantities. "Even non-toxic plants can cause problems passing through the GI tract if sufficient amounts are ingested because they're not digestible and don't break down and can cause obstructions of the intestinal tract," says Kelley. So, any time you suspect your pet has noshed on one of your plants, call your vet immediately. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
Here are the best pet-friendly plants that are generally safe to keep around cats and dogs. (Plus, tips on how to care for them!)
1. Prayer Plant
The prayer plant has pretty red-veined leaves that curl up as if in prayer in response to darkness. It likes moderate light and slightly moist soil.
2. Ric Ric Cactus
The fishbone-shaped leaves of this cute plant look best in hanging baskets. It occasionally blooms with orchid-like flowers. Give it bright, indirect light, and water every 1 to 2 weeks.
3. Parlor Palm
Popular since Victorian times, the parlor palm has beautiful, feathery fronds that lend a tropical feel to any room. They will tolerate lower light levels but prefer to stay lightly moist.
The cute little puckered leaves of peperomia make a mounded shape. It tolerates low to moderate light. Because its thick, glossy leaves retain water, let the soil dry before watering again.
With handsome markings, this easy-care plant needs bright light to thrive. Give it constant light moisture.
6. Air Plant
These fun plants are epiphytes, which means they grow without soil. They come in many different shapes and sizes, and they're often sold in a glass globe or mounted on wood. Give them bright light and swish around in the sink about once a week. Let dry before replacing in its display container.
7. Spider Plant
Spider plants have strappy green and white leaves that arch elegantly out of the pot. They make great hanging plants! They like bright light but will tolerate lower light levels, too. Snip off the plantlets when they get roots, and tuck into a new pot to make baby plants. Let them dry out between waterings.
8. Money Tree
The money tree has an attractive upright form and glossy leaves and is often sold with a braided trunk. It's reported to bring good luck! Give it bright indirect light, though you should turn it every few days so it grows in a more upright position. Let it dry out between waterings.
These unusual-looking plants have interesting foliage and colored bracts, a sort of modified leaf. The flowers last for months! Give them lots of bright light and add a few tablespoons of water to the cup of the bromeliad, near the base of the plant, and fill it occasionally.
10. Lady Palm
The elegant fronds in a fan pattern make this a stylish plant for any décor. It's less fussy than many other types of palms. Give it bright light and water when the top inch or so of soil feels dry.
This cute little succulent has dark green leaves striped with white. It likes bright indirect light. Water it when the soil feels dry to the touch, which is usually every 2 to 3 weeks.
12. Moth Orchid
Orchids bloom for months, so they're a great plant for bright east or west-facing windows. They're usually planted in bark or moss. Let them dry out between waterings because they don't like to stay wet.
13. Polka Dot Plant
Pretty pink or red speckled leaves make this a colorful plant for any room! They like moderate light. Let it dry out somewhat between waterings.
14. Christmas Cactus
This plant can live for decades! Give it bright indirect light, and water when the soil feels dry to the touch. It's a "short day" plant, meaning it needs 12 to 24 hours of uninterrupted darkness starting in September to bloom. To ensure blooms by the holidays, keep it in a room that's not used at night.
15. Boston Fern
These beautiful ferns need tons of light. Put them on a tray of pebbles filled with water to boost the humidity level around them. A bathroom is the ideal setting.
16. African Violet
These old favorites like bright indirect light (not direct sunlight, which will burn them). Water from the bottom when the soil feels slightly dry to the touch. They'll bloom year-round with the right conditions.
17. Herbs (Rosemary, Basil, Thyme)
Many culinary herbs adapt well to indoor conditions Plant these in pots and keep on a sunny windowsill for greenery that's pretty and useful! Water when slightly dry.
Echeveria holds water in its leaves, so it can go weeks without watering. Give it lots of bright, indirect light.
19. Areca Palm
The plumes of this palm need bright indoor light and constant light moisture. But don't let it get too soggy. It can reach 6 to 7 feet tall in time.
This adorable plant has round leaves that resemble coins. It likes bright indirect light. Let it dry out slightly between waterings.