Figaro's Blog

January 30, 2024

Pet-Friendly Paradise: A Guide to Pet-Safe House Plants

Featured image for “Pet-Friendly Paradise: A Guide to Pet-Safe House Plants”
A large tabby cat sits in front of potted evergreens at a nursery


It’s a question we’re asked almost daily: “What do you recommend for pet-safe house plants?” Pets are an integral part of Figaro’s Garden. We delight in doggie visitors—leashed and well-behaved dogs are always welcome in the shop (and may even get a treat). And then of course there are the cats: our own (hi, Huey!) and—sometimes—neighbourhood visitors. As such, guiding customers toward non-toxic tropicals is something we take to heart. In this guide, we’ll explore tropical plants that not only beautify your living space but also coexist harmoniously with your pets.

Why Plant Choice Matters

Many common houseplants can be toxic to pets if ingested, causing a range of symptoms from mild discomfort to severe, life-threatening illness. As responsible plant and pet parents, it’s important to choose greenery that doesn’t pose a threat to your pets. Note that ingesting a large amount of any plant material—even plants considered non-toxic—can cause stomach upset and other symptoms in pets. Read on for how to choose and place plants to limit risk to animals.

Know your Pet

Not all pets are interested in eating plants. Huey, the Figaro’s shop cat, is a rather picky eater and deigns only to eat the occasional Nepeta cataria (catnip) plant. Other pets, however, might delight in chowing down on your house plants. Many are somewhere in between: they might try a small sample just to satisfy their curiosity, but won’t eat enough to make themselves sick.

If your pet is exhibiting physical symptoms or behavioural changes after ingesting a plant, contact your veterinarian.

Pet-Safe House Plants

Pet owners have options when it comes to choosing plants to beautify their homes. We’ve divided this list into a few popular categories of pet-safe house plants:

Pet-Safe Ferns

A boston fern on a coffee table in a white pot. The background image of a couch is blurred.

Boston Fern is a popular pet-safe plant that does well in low-light conditions.

Most true ferns are safe for pets. Look for leafy Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata), delicate Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum), dramatic Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus), epiphytic Rabbit’s Foot Fern (Davallia fejeensis) or architectural Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum).

Beware the Asparagus Fern (Asparagus densiflorus), which is in fact not a true fern but a member of the Lily Family, whose members are nearly all toxic to people and pets.

Pet-Safe Palms

Not all Palm Family plants are safe for pets, but there are a couple that make the cut: graceful Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens) and compact Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans). While not a true palm, the popular Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) is also safe for cats and dogs.

Pet-Safe Succulents

A small haworthia in a white pot is a pet-safe house plant


While a few popular succulents—Aloe (Aloe vera), Jade (Crassula ovata) and String of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)—are mildly to moderately toxic to pets, there are still many great options to choose from if you have a sunny spot and a hankering for succulents! Try Haworthia (Haworthiopsis attenuata) or Echeveria (Echeveria spp.) with their striking rosette-shaped leaves, or, for a hanging option try Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum).

Easy-Care Pet-Friendly Plants

The popular beginner house plant Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata) is a no-go for pet owners. But new indoor gardeners have several options to choose from when looking for easy-care plants that are safe for pets. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum), Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura), Air Plant (Tillandsia spp.), and Hoya Australis (Hoya australis) make great easy-care house plants and are non-toxic to boot.

Pet-Safe Plants for Low Light

Unfortunately, many popular tropicals suited to low light are also toxic to pets, including ZZ Plant (Zamioculcas Zamifolia), Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum wallisii), Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata) and Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema). For low-light situations in pet-friendly homes, we recommend a couple of tough-as-nails beauties. True to its name, Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) is virtually indestructible and well-suited for low-light conditions. Calathea (Calathea spp.) are statement plants that thrive in bright, indirect to low light.

Tips for a Pet-Friendly Plant Paradise

Prayer plant in a black pot

Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura) is generally easy to care for, tolerates lower light conditions, and is pet safe.

Selecting pet-safe plants is just the beginning. Here are some additional tips to ensure  harmony between plants and pets:

  • Placement matters: Strategically place plants out of reach of curious pets. Hanging planters, shelves, or dedicated plant stands can help create a safer environment.
  • Monitor pets and plants: Check leaves for signs of pet damage, and keep an eye on pets to ensure they don’t show interest in nibbling on your plants. If they do, consider providing alternative greenery, such as cat grass, for them to chew on.
  • Regular maintenance: Some plants may shed leaves or require pruning. Regular grooming not only keeps your plants looking their best but also minimizes the risk of fallen leaves tempting your pets.
  • Include culinary herbs: Some pets enjoy nibbling on herbs: flavourful edible plants typically grown for seasoning our food or perfuming our homes. Some are also used as traditional medicinal. See our list below for herbs to try!

Culinary herbs for pets

A lot of fresh herbs get a bad reputation as potentially toxic because, in essential oil form, they can be. However, in fresh form and using just a leaf or two, herbs are actually beneficial. More is not usually advised (especially in the case of cats, which tend to be more sensitive). Offer your pet a leaf or two of the following plants; they may enjoy the new flavours!

  • Oregano leaf: A great herb for dogs that has good antioxidant properties. It is also known to contain vitamins A, C, and K as well as minerals. Feed a leaf or two at a time or puree and add to your pet’s meal.
  • Basil: Another great herb that is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants including beta carotene. It is also known to help increase insulin function in dogs. Cats should only eat just a tiny bit at a time as they are obligate carnivores.
  • Mint: Rich in vitamins A and C. mint is great for freshening doggy breath.

Creating a pet-friendly paradise with house plants is not only achievable but also rewarding.  By selecting the right plants and implementing a few thoughtful strategies, you and your pets can enjoy the benefits plants can bring to a space.

To see these and other pet-friendly plants, visit Figaro’s Garden, or contact us today to see what’s in store.


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