There are two things we love deeply in life: plants and pets. The bad news is that many common plants are not safe for cats and dogs. Certain plants can be toxic to pets when ingested, sometimes causing seizures, tremors, or worse. Even the most well-behaved animals are bound to take a bite of a houseplant at some point, so we reached out to New Jersey veterinarian Dr. Judy Morgan for her advice on how to select greenery that won’t harm the four-legged friends in our lives. Since we strongly endorse adding greenery to your home to clean your air and improve your mood, while also making sure your pet is safe and sound, check out 21 of our favorite houseplants that are safe for cats and dogs.
P.S. If you’re ever curious as to whether a certain plant is a safe investment for your home, the ASCPA also has an extensive list of plants to avoid, both indoors and out.
1. Rattlesnake Plant
The colors, distinctly shaped leaves, and easy watering schedule make the rattlesnake plant (a.k.a. Calathea lancifola) a great addition to a low-light living room. Can you imagine that funky purple on the undersides of the leaves against your midcentury chair? We can.
2. Spider Plant
A favorite among veterinarians, this plant is easy to grow indoors and incredibly resilient (yes, even to your black thumb!). Spider plants are also great air-purifiers, so they can help get rid of your home’s toxins.
3. Parlor Palm
Stick one on a credenza or nightstand that’s not too close to a window, as this palm needs only a few hours of indirect light a day.
4. Calathea Orbifolia
The leaf pattern on this particular Calathea is exquisite if you ask us. This houseplant needs partial shade, which makes it perfect for a plant stand or a shelf in a bedroom that doesn’t get much natural light.
5. Ponytail Palm
The ponytail palm, a.k.a. Beaucarnea recurvata, has so much character your pet might want to befriend it. Or swat at its draping fronds.
6. (Certain) Succulents
Add some pet-friendly succulents, like this Haworthia, Echeveria, or a group of air plants, to your countertop and you’re golden.
7. African Violet
If you’ve got open shelving in your kitchen, these flowers would be a great, colorful addition. (Just make sure the plant isn’t near a drafty floor vent or window.) With indirect sunlight, they will bloom beautifully.
8. Bird’s Nest Fern
This squiggly green fern thrives on the low light and varying humidity conditions that characterize bathrooms. Your teeth-brushing routine just got so much prettier.
Find a sunny window and these flowers (native to Brazil) will blossom in bright shades of purple, pink, red, or blue. Keep the soil moist and feed these blooms liquid plant food every two weeks for maximum health.
10. Venus Flytrap
Not only is this plant pet-friendly, it’s also super low maintenance. Keep your Venus flytrap thriving by placing it somewhere that gets at least four hours of direct sunlight and watering it with distilled water. As far as soil is concerned, opt for peat moss or sphagnum moss. Placing it on a porch is ideal, as it can feed itself with passerby flies. It needs only one to two insects per month to sustain itself.
11. Boston Fern
The beautiful Boston fern is also on the lower end of the maintenance spectrum since it requires food only every two months. Your kitty can bat at the ferns all he wants and your puppy can even take a bite—this plant is safe for cats and dogs.
12. Polka Dot Plant
This striking plant grows up to three feet tall outdoors in its native Madagascar. In a pot inside your home, however, the spotted beauty grows to only about 10 inches tall.
13. Watermelon Peperomia
The Peperomia family includes lots of varieties, but we’re partial to the Watermelon (a quick look at its leaves makes clear how it got its name). They prefer to be kept out of direct sunlight and don’t need a ton of watering to stay happy.
Few plants lend as elegant an air as an orchid. Luckily, you can add one to your home without posing a threat to your pooch. With proper care, orchids can last up to four months. They do best in partial light. Water once a week during the winter, and twice a week in hotter months.
14. Staghorn Fern
This fern has two different kinds of fronds and grows wild in Australia. The pet-friendly plant can be potted, mounted on a wall, or hung in a basket. The staghorn fern will do well in any room with bright or indirect light but never in a dark room. Depending on the weather and humidity, you can water it every one to three weeks. The more humidity, the less you need to water it. If you place it in a bathroom, then, you’ll need to water and mist it only every three weeks.
If you want bring a tropical vibe to your space, look no further than a bright bromeliad. Bromeliads, which have blooms that can last up to a few months, will liven up any room you put them in. They need plenty of air flow, so we suggest an open area with windows and indirect sunlight, such as a living room, kitchen, or bedroom.
17. Baby Tears
This plant’s dripping tendrils were practically designed to attract cats. Even if you place this high up in an indoor hanging basket, your clever kitty just may find a way to get to it. But don’t worry—it can’t hurt him. In addition to being a pet-friendly plant, this is also a good choice for beginner green thumbs. Choose a location with filtered light and keep the soil moist. If this plant gets thirsty, it will start wilting immediately. Water at any sign of thirst!
18. Friendship Plant
The friendship plant boasts intricately patterned leaves that are soft to the touch and harmless to your pets. The small plant grows 6–12 inches high, and can survive in low light as long as it gets a few hours of sunlight each day. Occasionally, the plant will flower with pale pink buds.
19. Areca Palm
Want to wow your guests while also protecting your pets? Look no further than an areca palm. Also known as a butterfly palm, it grows up to five feet tall and has big, bold fronds. It will become a focal point in any room you choose to grace with its presence.
Basil, rosemary, and thyme are great kitchen herbs that are totally safe for your pet to snack on. They love direct light, so leave them to hang out by a window all day long.
21. Prayer Plant
Rounding out our list of plants that are safe for cats and dogs is the prayer plant. With its eye-catching leaves and elegant coloration, you can hardly blame your pet for being curious about its beauty.