It is possible to have lush and stylish houseplants that are pet safe. It just takes a bit of know-how and label reading.
The main reason I began Leaf & Paw was because I spent years researching safe, non-toxic plants that wouldn’t send my cats to the ER. In the realm of the internet with so much misinformation, it was somewhat difficult to find a consistent list. Many trendy blogs and websites that recommend plants for your home don’t specify toxicity to animals or children. So I’ve made my own list of five plants to get you started as you begin to build your indoor jungle. And rest assured, they are all safe for Mittens and Fido.
This classic summer outdoor plant can actually be brought inside and made an indoor plant. It looks best suspended from the ceiling. 100% safe for pets, these are stunning in a dining room or bathroom. Cat consumption level is medium – my cats haven’t eaten my fern but they do eye it surreptitiously. Basic care is to keep the soil moist (checking about 1-2x a week) and spritz with a spray bottle to keep the air humid. Perch in a mildly sunny location.
I think Fittonia are underrated. More recently marketed at “fairy garden plants,” they are really a unique speciman and perfect for low light areas. They don’t stay small, but instead grow quickly if they like the conditions you offer them. What makes these stylish is their appearance grouped together. Single, they are a tad sad-looking, but bunched together they look stunning in a contrasting planter, such as mine. My cats also don’t touch this plant – probably because the leaves are crinkly, almost paper-like (not that that has stoped them before). Fittonia come in a variety of colors, too. They prefer lower light areas that are warm. They benefit from being misted a few times a week and always like to be kept moist – don’t let these guys dry out.
These tutfy cacti look so bright and cheerful (ideal), and they are convenient scratching posts for my kitties (not ideal). I like these because they aren’t dangerously spiny (so cat head scratching is fine, I guess), they’re super cute, and look best in a planter with other pet safe succulents (see this post) or grouped together. Basic care is pretty, well, basic. Let dry out completely and water once a week at most. Remember, these usually live in a desert.
Staghorn ferns can either stay in pots or hang on the wall. And they’re fuzzy!Mount this fern on a wall as a vegan alternative to antlers or hang from the ceiling using kokedama. They’re pretty neat ferns, and are completely safe for pets and really stunning. This is a really great tutorial from Gardenista about mounting a fern. As far as care, they are actually related to air plants (see my post here) so they respond best to misting 1-2x a week and watering (if in a pot) once a week. If you wish to mount your Staghorn Fern, you’ll need to use different watering methods. They also like high humidity and medium light, not direct sunlight.
The ability to make any room look like it is out of a spa, the Majesty Palm is the most common palm seen at big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. They are relatively easy to care for and make a great houseplant. Be warned – cats are obsessed. Both ate my first palm almost down to the stump, which looked awful and made me sad. You can always place them on a pedestal out of cat-paw reach or make a simple repellent to spray on the fronds. Keep palms in medium sunlight, not in bright direct sun, which will turn the leaves brown. As far as watering, I soak my palm once a week (less in winter), let it drain, then return it to its saucer. They also like temperatures above 70 degrees, generally. Look for the name Ravenea rivularison the plant label.