Plants and Pets: Our 10 Favorite Pet-Safe Indoor Plants and 7 to Avoid

Posted on Jan 22, 2015 in Nursery | 20 Comments

All too often in our nursery, people fall in love with a plant, only to remember, to their dismay, that not all houseplants are pet-safe. “Is this plant safe for dogs? Cats?” they ask.

The answer, as it turns out, is a bit complicated. Many of the most common varieties are not pet-safe indoor plants. That said, the majority of plants that are “poisonous” to your pet will actually only cause them some temporary discomfort, such as indigestion, of course depending on the size of your pet and how much of the plat he or she makes as a snack.

While pets munching on plants isn’t a problem we’ve personally experienced in our homes, it’s always a good idea to play it safe. That’s why we’ve assembled this list of our favorite pet-safe indoor plants that we commonly carry in the nursery and ship from our web shop. Plus, we’ve listed a few that you should avoid (or isolate from pet areas), just to be sure.

Pet-safe Indoor Plants

All these beauties are pet-safe indoor plants! In the image: Ficus alii, Mounted Staghorn Fern, Bird’s Nest Fern, Giant Bromeliad, Tillandsia species, Jungle cactus cork mount (rhipsalis sp), Hoya Carnosa, and Tess, our shop dog.

Our 10 Favorite Pet-Safe Indoor plants:
  1. Rhipsalis  – Mistletoe Cactus
  2. Asplenium nidus – Bird’s Nest Fern
    • Beautiful, rosette-like fern that is happy in medium light and looks beautiful as a kokedama.
  3. Giant Tropical Bromeliads
    • Low light tolerant, easy to care for, and shooting out enormous, long-lasting flower spikes
  4. Hoya Carnosa – Wax Plant
    • A classic houseplant that lives for years and likely crept around your grandmother’s kitchen. Works well in a kokedama.
  5. Tradescantia – Wandering Jew
    • Beautifully variegated and lustrous leaves, prolific grower and easy as pie to propagate. [note: safe for cats only – there is mixed information about whether this plant is safe for dogs]
  6. Spider Plant
    • Long, leaves, often variegated and curly, and produces lots of baby plantlets to share with your friends! Plus, it’s said to be a great air purifier
  7. Echeveria – Hens and Chicks
    • Beautiful rosettes that spread easily with little root space and love a sunny window.
  8. Staghorn Fern
  9. Tillandsia – Air Plants
  10. Fittonia – Nerve Plant
    • Pink and white leaves look almost embossed with nerve-like lines. Loves to stay wet – great for the over-waterer.
Plants to Avoid or Keep Away from your Pets

Unfortunately, many of our favorites fall onto this list of unsafe plants for pets. Here’s a few to keep away from your dog or cat.

  • Pothos species
  • Philodendron species
  • Monstera deliciosa
  • Euphorbia species
  • Schefflera species
  • Jade plant
  • Sansevieria

We hope this list of pet-safe indoor plants helps you liven up your home with confidence that everyone in your household will benefit from the greenery!

20 Comments

  1. Fran Saperstein
    March 10, 2016

    I have pet birds. Always have. Originally had 25 finches that absolutely loved and lived in my 2 or 3 ficus trees. I always worry about the insecticide sprayed on these trees before purchase. It must be impossible to find one that has never been sprayed. Am I correct? Before allowing my birds in the tree, I washed them outdoors with plain water, then soapy water, then plain. Must have washed the damn things 10 times. Birds loved the trees and survived. Thank God.

    Now I have Love Birds. Real chewers! I literally have no live plants in the house but I have to be careful even with the artificial tree I have because I believe the bark is treated with fumaldihide (sp?) . Am awaiting a new ficus
    for the bird room I’m decorating in my home..

    You listed several save plants for pets but didn’t say anything about the insecticides sprayed on them before purchase. So exactly how worried should we be about this? I know I’m absolutely paranoid and hate feeling like this.

    Would love hearing back from you….

    Fran

    Reply
    • Jesse
      March 11, 2016

      Hey Fran,

      Thanks for writing in. Your bird room sounds really cool!

      You’re correct that it would be hard to find these trees and other tropicals grown without being sprayed (though I’m sure organic indoor plant nurseries must exist). Pesticides certainly can be dangerous to pets. That said, I’ve never read anything specifically mentioning poisoning from pesticides – only from the plant itself. Unfortunately I don’t know much about birds, and so I can’t say with certainty whether it would be safe or not, but I think that your effort to wash plants before allowing your birds to get in them is good precaution.

      Best of luck,
      Jesse

      Reply
  2. Tracey
    April 3, 2016

    Note that the wandering jew plant is considered toxic to dogs and non toxic to cats. I think you should consider removing this one from your list. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/wandering-jew

    Reply
  3. Lindsay
    April 3, 2016

    I am relatively new to growing houseplants – we just moved into a house recently and I received a Creeping Charlie (pilea nummulariifolia) as a housewarming gift. I have never had success growing anything before, but my first Charlie has already made 3 babies from cuttings and they are all growing like crazy!
    I am frankly surprised with all the searching I have been doing for easy-care and pet-safe houseplants that this plant has not been on any lists, as it is completely safe for pets (http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/creeping-pilea) and is so incredibly easy to grow (seriously – put in pot and throw water in periodically). Mine don’t seem to care about what light they are in either.
    Can you pretty please add this plant to the list next time this page is updated? If there are other fur-baby parents that have black thumbs like me, I think they’d really like the Charlie plants 🙂
    Great content on your site – next one I am planning on is a Hoya Carnosa!

    Reply
    • Jesse
      April 6, 2016

      Thanks for the info, Lindsay! We’ll definitely keep Creeping Charlie on our shortlist of safe plants for the next post on the subject. So glad you found the site useful and that you’re having success with your new houseplant hobby! We have a good post up about hoya care as well, so check that out if you decide to go on to the Carnosa!

      Best,
      Jesse – Pistils Nursery

      Reply
  4. Lex
    April 14, 2016

    Howdy guys!
    I’ve been dying to get a fiddle leaf fig, had one in my arms, and then remembered my cat.

    ASPCA says that it IS poisonous to cats. I’m curious to know if you guys have found that its just an irritant, or if its actually dangerous

    Reply
    • Jesse
      April 15, 2016

      Hey Lex,

      I think it depends on how much your cat ingests. Personally, I have plenty of “poisonous” houseplants around my pets, since they’ve never shown any interest in chewing on the leaves. It’s always best to stay on the safe side, especially if your cat likes to nibble. But we have found that most are just irritants or cause indigestion/discomfort.

      Hope this helps – sorry we can’t be more specific,
      Jesse

      Reply
  5. Bry
    May 20, 2016

    Hiya, just wondering what the nice plant with the darker green leaves in the white pot hanging down over the table near Tess’s head is please?

    Tx

    Reply
    • Jesse
      May 23, 2016

      Hey Bry, The plant is a Hoya Carnosa. There are a lot of different cultivars with slightly different leaf shapes and colors, but they’re widely available at most nurseries!

      Best of luck,
      Jesse

      Reply
  6. Susan
    June 4, 2016

    Also want to buy a fiddle leave fig….but have dogs and want to plant it in the yard here in Arizona. Want to make sure my dogs would get hurt? What does everyone think?

    Reply
    • Jesse
      June 8, 2016

      Hey Susan,

      I’ve removed the ficus from the list of safe plants as there seems to be mixed information. That said, do your dogs have a history of nibbling on trees? Would the plants be large enough that the leaves would be out of their reach? From what I can tell, ingestion of the plant may cause gastrointestinal distress, so I’d take a look at how your dogs have behaved in the past and decide if it’s worth it.

      All the best,
      Jesse

      Reply
  7. Deb
    June 5, 2016

    I have checked out about for my cats, and between what I’ve researched, and my vet, they can make cats and dogs very sick, poisonous. For our kids’ safety, please double check on this one! Thank you

    Reply
    • Jesse
      June 8, 2016

      Hey Deb,

      Thanks for writing in. I’ve removed the ficus species from the list, as it does seem that there is mixed information about these trees, and it’s not worth the confusion!

      All the best,
      Jesse

      Reply
  8. Gail H
    June 7, 2016

    I have been REALLY wanting a Fiddle Leaf Fig but keep hearing they are poisonous? Would you say its more of an irritation than a poison?

    Would love to have one but my cat likes to munch plants.

    Reply
    • Jesse
      June 8, 2016

      Hey Gail,

      If you have a cat that likes to munch, I’d say it’s best to err on the safe side and avoid the ficus. From what I’ve read, it can cause gastrointestinal distress, but you never know how your particular animal would react depending on how much they eat and it would be so sad if your cat were harmed. Alternately, you could try to get the plant and then place it somewhere in the house that’s inaccessible to your pets.

      Best of luck,
      Jesse

      Reply
  9. Lexi
    January 20, 2017

    I have 2 parakeets and they enjoy nibbling on our household plant. The problem is I’m not sure the type of tree but it resembles a ficus alii. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  10. Leila
    February 8, 2017

    Since my cat always had plenty of live catnip, grass, and other plants outdoors to nibble on (and she did, daily), I didn’t worry about my indoor plants. She has a kitty-door so comes and goes on her own. However, this winter, after two months of deep snow, ice, below freezing temps and no outdoors time (not to mention no live catnip), I discovered leaves missing from my purple shamrock plant. ??? Finally caught her in the act. She kept at it, so the shamrock plant has left, and I read up that that is a good thing. I am now trying to sprout some catnip indoors, and will also look at purchasing a spider plant. I had no idea that she would develop this hankering for vegetation when cooped up for the winter. So, end of story … even if it hasn’t been a problem, prolonged lack of access to easy vegetation may cause nibbling on a previously ignored plant.

    Reply
  11. Ashton
    March 26, 2017

    I really love the look of philodendron plants indoors for their large leafs and tall heights. Is there a replacement plant that gives a similar texture that is non-toxic to dogs? I am not a big fan of fern plants and smaller textures. I have two small dogs that would come visit me occasionally and I don’t think they would eat anything but just in case I don’t want anything that could harm them if they did. Are the banana looking plants ok?

    Reply

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