Today we’re chewing on the idea of pet-friendly house plants. While they’re a great way to bring rooms to life, the drawback is that some house plants are unfortunately toxic to our pets. Out of curiosity, pup (or kitty) may chew or lick leaves that could bring on a negative reaction. The good news is many house plants are pawfectly safe. You just need to know what to look out for and where to eliminate temptation, so pup can continue helping to water the plants and find treats tucked behind your prize orchid.
Aside from aesthetics, house plants can also help naturally purify the air. After researching how to naturally clean the air in space stations, NASA published a clean air report detailing common indoor plants that provide a natural way of removing toxic agents like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and trichloroethylene from the air. These agents have been linked to health effects like headaches, migraines, dizziness, skin allergies and eye irritation in humans. The same NASA report cross-references pet-friendly house plants that also offer air purifying qualities.
The not-so-humble spider plant is great for house plant newbies as it is known for its resilience. It will quietly battle toxins including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and xylene while also offering a safe set of leaves for your furry friend. Simple yet stylish bamboo is also featured on NASA’s clean air report as a great air purifier, reducing benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and xylene and is non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Bring on the colour
Some members of the orchid family are great air purifiers and also fabulously pet-friendly. Dendrobium Orchids such as the Pink Rock Orchid will help reduce xylene while proving to be a great housemate for your four-legged friend. Indigenous to eastern Australia, the very pretty Pink Rock Orchid prefers shady conditions so is a great UK indoor plant option. Similarly, the beautiful Moth Orchid reduces xylene and is long-lasting and easy to care for. Commonly found in most garden centres and supermarkets, the Moth Orchid is a safe gift idea for any friends or family with their own four-legged chums.
Time for a pet-friendly bold pop of colour! If you and pup enjoy keeping things big and bold, you’ll love the Calathea. More commonly known as the Prayer Plant, the Calathea’s large signature leaves look airbrushed with gorgeous greens and maroon markings. Tip: the Calathea likes misting and being kept clean of dust, so ask pup to help you dust the leaves every couple of weeks. For another bold colour pop that will spruce up any well-lit home office try Guzmania, a Brazilian tropical plant that blooms a lovely rich red flower. The impressive bloom will have you and pup dancing the samba in no time.
Let it all hang out
Humans with inquisitive pups may shy away from house plants with extra-long hanging stems. But you can risk a little chew here and there with our top, pet-friendly draping house plants that help bring a little elegance to any room. Our favourite is the Gaia (Saxifraga Stolonifera Tricolor to be exact). Often nicknamed the Strawberry Saxifrage, this beautiful little plant daintily spills over its pot over shelves and from walls. Great for hanging baskets, tails will wag when the cream-coloured leaves turn rose pink. Tip: give your Gaia plenty of sunlight to watch this chameleon effect happen.
And they call it puppy love! Our alternative draper houseplant, the Ceropegia Woodii, otherwise known as the String of Hearts, is also safe for pets. It often drapes a little longer than the Gaia and is made up of heart-shaped leaves that pup will love sniffing. The trailing stems look lovely draped over shelving and bare brick. An easy one for those less green-pawed pups, the Ceropegia Woodii does well without a lot of attention so you can go easy on the watering. This one will be very tempting for cats though so keep it up high!
While not dangerous to eat, non-toxic plants won’t necessarily make pets feel great if chewed or eaten. If you think your four-legged friend has had a nibble, keep an eye on them nonetheless. Happy planting!
For more helpful ideas for your life with pup, check out the handy Tips and Trends content in our Magazine section.
*Information on whether these plants are safe for pets comes from the NASA Clean Air Report, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s (ASPCA) directory of toxic and non-toxic plants, and from plant ordering website Patch.