The Pet Safe Plant You Didn’t Know You Needed

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but sometimes all of the cool plants are toxic to pets. If you have pets, you know what I mean. You may feel like you’re left with some less-than-fun-looking plants to collect and I say this because I do/try not to feel this way. And so began the hunt for some plants that won’t kill Harlequinn but are also just plain cool.

Finally, I found one.

Behold, the Chenille plant. Also called The Pet Safe Plant You Didn’t Know You Needed. Actually referred to as the Cheeto plant, it brings the yum factor (not like that it doesn’t taste like Cheetos). It’s fuzzy. Check. It’s non-toxic. Check. And it’s a hanging plant OR a shelf plant which means my options are endless. I can perch it on a shelf, Harvey’s head, or very precariously from the ceiling from fishing line, which I know nothing about.

What are Chenille Plants?

My Chenille baby is Veronica, and I found her at a regular old garden center around this time a few years ago. In warmer climates (ie, not New York) they may be considered an annual, so one could be hiding in the annual section.

Known scientifically as Acalypha hispida (“cheeto” is not the scientific name apparently), they’re part of the spurge family. And if you’re like “what is spurge?” This is spurge.

The weed that SOMEHOW and always grows in between dry, sandy concrete and will be the only plant to continue to grow after the apocalypse. So this plant from Dune is Veronica’s cousin.

Anyway, they’re primarily a tropical plant mostly found in New Guinea and grow to be huge. Here in the US where we have dumb seasons, they do best as a houseplant and can be left outside during warmer months. Here is what Veronica could have been:

Maybe one day Veronica, maybe one day.

Caring for a Chenille Plant

If you manage to find a Chenille plant, congrats, and now it’s time to care for them. They’re not difficult per se, just require a few things to stay pink and fluffy.

Light: I have Veronica in very bright light (but not super direct sun, more on that later). Bright, warm sun is best and keeps those little snacky flowers coming back again and again.

Watering: They like to be moist. The leaves get super crispy and sad if you let them dry out or get scorched by sun. I check the soil every day in summer and every few days in winter. This might be the moist important part about owning this plant – keep it moist.

Soil: Peaty, high quality potting soil. No need for crazy drainage. Because these like to be on the wetter side, a loamy, peaty soil is best without orchid bark or a lot of perlite.

Humidity: Ok so here is where the higher maintenance part comes in. First off, I like misting plants. I mist my Hoyas all the time and I swear I have big gorgeous leaves because of it. If you were me, I would mist my chenille plant at least a few times a week. It keeps the leaves moist and also spider mites at bay, which are the main pest that you need to look for. I also avoid those fancy glass steampunk misters and go for something like this.

Pruning: Pruning is crucial. I’ll be honest, they kind of grow like little weeds (thanks, spurge). Keeping them pruned once the flowers die off helps with new growth and keeps them looking voluptuous.

Where to find Chenille Plants

Like I mention above, your local garden center is the best bet. Also, unrelated but important, make friends with your garden center! I frequent mine often and know much of the staff, allowing me to request plants or just ask for advice when I need it. It’s something I strongly urge all plant people to do, if you have a local garden center that is.

If you do not and live in the middle of nowhere, that’s ok. The internet is your best bet. Just don’t buy any plants in cold months, it’s not worth it and it probably won’t survive the trip. I found a few on Amazon here, here and here. There are a lot of seeds for sale too, I noticed, but I wouldn’t bother with those. You can always experiment sure, but you will end up waiting forever for plants to grow and they may not even grow. I’d opt for small to large adult plants. I also found one from Caribbean Garden Seed Co. and there are also quite a few on Etsy and eBay. Etsy and eBay are underrated for buying plants.

I really hope someone reading this can experience the pure joy a chenille plant brings, because they really are amazing and unique. And pet safe! How fun.

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1 reply
  1. I have just found your blog. I am very happy I have. I’ve always had cats and obviously kittens but! I was bought a young fella Bennu (Egyptian mau) . My lovely boy Harvey passed over the rainbow bridge and my friend decided to surprise me. Oh boy! This little fella is well, so clever but wants to eat everything. He pretty much has an assault course through the front room over the dogs and up the wall. I have spider plants but have tried to hide the money plant. Now I don’t have too woohoo! And my orchids are safe for him
    He’s the only kitten I’ve ever had that wants to chew on my plants 😆.. Thank you so much for doing what you do. I have a safe incredibly clever, mad, loving kraken I mean kitten. 😻❤️

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