25 Best Pet-Friendly Plants
For those who have pets, especially curious, climbing cats or dogs who love to nibble anything they find, the world of houseplant ownership is a rather stressful one. And caution is fair: A wide range of plant species are harmful or even toxic to dogs, cats and other animals (causing seriously unpleasant reactions ranging from prolonged digestive troubles to organ damage).
But amidst the harmful options you’d be best to avoid, there are still a variety of plant choices that are completely harmless to your pets, even if they decide to take a bite. So, if you’re keen on spicing up your home decor and freshening your space’s air with some lovely plants, these are the safest ones to choose if pets are around.
But do be cautious still: While your pets won’t be harmed by these plants, your overzealous pet may, in turn, harm the plants! Placing them carefully or considering high shelves or hanging planters is always the safest bet for all parties.
Air Plants (Tillandsia)
A classic and very easy houseplant starting point, air plants are just as their name indicates: plants that grow freely in the air, without a need for planting in soil or even water.
They’re about as low-maintenance and simple as houseplants come and often find their purpose as both home decor and pleasing plant life.
Best Practices: Air Plants
As they’re quite small and stay that way (most topping out around a foot in diameter), placing one on a shelf, windowsill, bookcase or in a little hanging terrarium adds a great pop of greenery with no need to worry about soil. These will be at their best in bright, indirect light and like a nice soak in some water once a week or so.
They may be tempting for dogs or especially cats to nibble on, but keeping them out of reach solves that problem, and they’re non-toxic to your pets.
Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea Elegans)
If you want a more eye-catching and focus-grabbing pop of plant life in your space, a larger, tree-like houseplant is a good start.
Parlor palms do the trick, reaching heights commonly up to 4 feet, and even capping out around 7 or 8 feet in perfect growing conditions.
Best Practices: Parlor Palm
Not only are they safe for curious pets, but they’re a low maintenance option for beginners. As with many more tropical varieties, parlor palms will prefer bright, indirect light but will allow for even some periods of low light.
You can let the top inch or so of soil dry out before watering, though make sure yours is planted in a pot with proper drainage.
Spider Plants (Chlorophytum Comosum)
A safe bet for houseplant beginners, and easy to come by in several varieties at most plant shops, spider plants are quick growers and add a great look to your space with their wide-reaching “tentacle”-like leaves.
Often recommended by vets and pet owners alike, spider plants are perfectly safe for your home’s companions, and they’re also excellent air-purifiers, cleansing the air in your space of toxins and leaving fresher air behind.
Best Practices: Spider Plants
Spider plants are hard, if not almost impossible to kill and will bounce back from most challenges.
But to keep yours thriving, aim for the brightest sun spots in your house, and water only when the soil gets dry (watering more in the summer and less in winter).
If you prefer your houseplants flowering and colorful, these charming and sweet blooms are a great indoor option that won’t cause harm to pets but will look lovely on your counter or windowsill.
African violets like some bright light but will be easily scorched in direct, hot sunlight, so keep these in a sunny spot that’s not getting blasted with sun rays.
Best Practices: African Violets
As with most houseplants, let them dry out between waterings. Your best bet with these beauties is to water from the bottom by placing your pot (with drainage hole) in a tray of water and letting it suck up as much as it needs.
Then, enjoy the pretty purple blooms and multi-colored leaves that appear.
While there are a variety of ivy plants popular both for houseplants and outdoor climbers, only some varieties are safe for pets while others can be toxic or cause illness. So, do your research before selecting any other ivy.
Swedish ivy has long been a vet-recommended ivy choice, as it’s safe for animals and looks lovely.
Best Practices: Swedish Ivy
Swedish ivy is also a bit of a plant-lover’s dream: quick to spread and easy to propagate. Propagation, particularly for houseplant enthusiasts, is the process of growing new plants from pieces of parent plants — trimming cuttings from a thriving plant, leaving them in water for a few days or weeks and then planting them once rooted for a brand new baby plant.
Ivies, like this pet-safe Swedish ivy, do so with ease and look great, too.
An adorable plant with an equally cute name, this stripey beauty is one of several peperomia varieties and one of the most coveted, mostly for its charming pattern and color.
Its leaves are light green with stripes of darker green, and it has stems in bright pinky-red. The effect is as the name indicates — a bit like a watermelon.
Best Practices: Watermelon Peperomia
These plants start small but grow quickly and satisfyingly with the proper care.
They will grow best with some nice indirect light and infrequent waterings.
Prized by many houseplant lovers, prayer plants are striking to look at and add beauty and texture to a space.
When properly cared for, they grow quite expansive and stretch beautifully, with stunningly patterned leaves that are their trademark (no matter the variety or color).
Best Practices: Prayer Plant
With their size and stretching leaves they may be hard to keep away from particularly curious cats and dogs, but you don’t need to worry about your pet if they do take a bite; prayer plants are non-toxic.
However, to keep your plant as safe as your pet, try to place it somewhere they can’t reach.
Bird’s Nest Fern
A variety of fern species are pet safe, and they make for surprisingly good houseplants.
Bird’s nest ferns are both non-toxic and lovely on the eyes, with their crinkling, curling leaves that spread out in all directions.
Best Practices: Bird’s Nest Fern
With proper care, these will grow hearty and large, making for great statement plants for a space that needs to be filled.
They’ll even do well in places like bathrooms, as they don’t mind low light and extra humidity.
Beautiful, sometimes-challenging and almost elusive, orchids are known to be a hobby plant. Those who love and care for orchids often dedicate plenty of time to a large collection, and it’s easy to see why they get hooked.
These plants are stunning in bloom, and coaxing out those delicate flowers is a rewarding process.
Best Practices: Orchids
Orchids are also not going to do any harm to your dogs or cats, but if you have curious pets, it’s more likely they could harm your well-tended orchid, so try to keep the two separated for that reason alone.
Orchids like plenty of humidity and water, but as with most plants, let them dry out between waterings.
Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachya)
These fun and aptly named little houseplants add a nice pop of color and pattern to your space and stay rather small, no more than a foot tall and usually less than that.
The sweet patterned leaves are the typical draw for these plants.
Best Practices: Polka Dot Plant
The fact that they’re totally non-toxic to the animals you live with is another great benefit.
And the small size means they fit great on a windowsill or shelf (bright light preferred) where dogs are unlikely to get into them, but watch that curious cats don’t knock them over.
Friendship Plant (Pilea Involucrata)
Another selection for those partial to sweet, petite and patterned plants, friendship plants are popular and easy to care for.
Their small delicate leaves are soft and pleasant to touch (and will do no harm to your pet if they decide to sample a snack). Better yet, they’re sweetly decked out in a unique striped pattern.
Best Practices: Friendship Plant
This houseplant will thrive with minimal maintenance, even in fairly low light or winter light. It just needs a couple hours of sun per day.
Expect it to grow to no more than 10 to 12 inches max in height, as small stature is the name of the game with these guys.
There are a range of hoya varieties out there with a lot of variations in appearance and color. They’re all similar to succulents but on the larger side, with more propensity for spreading and expanding.
The characteristic thick waxy leaves of succulents can be expected with hoyas.
Best Practices: Hoyas
As with most succulents, most hoyas are also pet-safe.
Check out hoya obovata or hoya carnosa for some fairly common and very attractive varieties. They’ll add an elegant and sophisticated pop of plant life to your room, without any concern for pet safety.
Another great and safe fern alternative, Boston ferns are more full and expansive.
When healthy, they fill out and look bushy and lively, catching the eye of any guest in your space.
Best Practices: Boston Fern
Keep in mind, this means they’ll likely catch the eye of curious cats or puppies.
But since they’re fully non-toxic, it’s never the pets you have to worry about, just the plant safety.
Among less traditional houseplants, but one of the more practical choices, several popular herbs are pet-safe, and basil is one of them.
This delightfully aromatic addition to your home offers several benefits at once. It adds a pop of greenery, smells like an Italian restaurant all day and provides a continuous supply of fresh basil for your cooking.
Best Practices: Basil
Once thriving and healthy, the leaves of your basil plant can be plucked as you cook and added to sauces, soups, pizza, pasta and plenty of other dishes.
Delicate herbs like these may not thrive in cold and dark winter climates but will do great indoors or outdoors during the spring and summer when there’s plenty of light and warmth.
While these carnivorous plants may not be safe for the flies and insects that pass by them, they won’t do any harm to your dog or cat if they decide to take a little bite.
But do still keep the two separate if you can: Venus flytraps are delicate plants, and until they’re mature and well-established, an aggressive interaction with a curious pet is more likely to harm the plant than anything.
Best Practices: Venus Flytrap
These popular plants are fascinating to have around and do act as a bit of home pest control once grown.
They prefer a soil base of peat moss or sphagnum moss and distilled water, with several hours of bright light each day. You can even leave them outside when the weather allows or in a screened porch.
Bromeliads are a wide, sweeping family of plants, noted for their typically curving leaves (forming a charming umbrella structure) and colorful flowering centers.
Besides being easy on the eyes, they’re cat- and dog-friendly.
Best Practices: Bromeliads
With some attentive care, bromeliads can grow quite large and become the centerpiece of a room’s decor.
For the best luck, offer bright light with minimal direct sun, decent humidity and pots with proper drainage.
Another pet-safe herb option that adds a great pop of greenery to a kitchen windowsill, rosemary is as practical as it is potent and vibrant.
Left to its own devices, rosemary plants outdoors can grow to massive sizes, filling in walkways or creating almost hedge-like shapes. But smaller plants potted indoors will maintain reasonable size, while offering fresh herbs for your baking and cooking anytime you like.
Best Practices: Rosemary
Pets may be particularly drawn to herbs like rosemary for their scent, so try to leave them higher up and away from curious paws.
But even if your pet does get into your plant, you have nothing to fear from this non-toxic shrub-like plant.
Almost a no-brainer, but perhaps not a “houseplant” that typically comes to mind, cat grass grow kits are easily accessible online or in stores and typically grow quickly right in their provided trays.
This is best used as a diversion for those cats that are particularly keen to sample some plants.
Best Practices: Cat Grass
Putting your other plants higher out of reach and then offering accessible cat grass as an alternative may provide a great distraction, as cats love to nibble it, and it grows back quickly.
Better yet, it still adds a nice pop of greenery to a space.
A tropical plant native to Brazil, zebra plants are popular in the houseplant community for their striking features: thick, shiny leaves decked out with characteristic white stripes.
As an extra treat, they even bloom bright yellow flowers at certain times of the year, adding to the plant-lover appeal.
Best Practices: Zebra Plant
While zebra plants are sometimes a bit harder to come by, if you do happen upon one, they’re a great choice for pet owners who love tropical plants.
They’ll thrive with bright, filtered light and nice moist soil.
Quite easy to come by, and certainly not just for one particular season, Christmas cacti look beautiful and add great color and life to a room all year long.
While other “seasonal” plants like amaryllis are toxic to pets, these cacti aren’t (though still avoid your pets chomping on them, as they can cause a bit of digestive discomfort, even though it’s not too serious).
Best Practices: Christmas Cactus
Christmas cacti bloom with colorful flowers and can expand and grow to a couple of feet.
You just need to make sure to give this plant the right light and water conditions.
Lace Flower Vine
A great sprawling option, particularly for a hanging planter, lace flower vines are sweet and simple with rounded leaves that trail off and expand beautifully with the right care.
Hanging planters are always a good houseplant option, even for non-toxic ones like this, especially if you have a particularly determined climber.
Best Practices: Lace Flower Vine
All this plant needs is some bright, indirect light and water only when its soil starts to feel dry.
If cared for properly, it will trail and sprawl in lovely vines up to 3-feet long, making for a gorgeous option in the corner of a room.
Another great hanging planter option, though totally safe for furry friends if they should get curious, baby tears are a more delicate trailing plant with sweet dainty leaves.
Given the right care, over time they’ll grow to impressive sizes, but even as young plants, they’re sweet and attractive.
Best Practices: Baby Tears
This plant is fairly easy for beginners, but it will react to being thirsty very quickly, with obvious wilting.
Water at the first sign of thirstiness, though, and you’re good to go.
Another member of the Peperomia family, lipstick plants live up to their name, with bright-red blooms that do bear a passing resemblance to tubes of lipstick.
It’s a great option for plant-lovers who enjoy more colorful selections.
Best Practices: Lipstick Plant
Lipstick plants are tropical and will do well living outdoors in the warm months.
These also houseplants prefer plenty of light and water, so, again, water at the first signs of thirst to keep them thriving.
Succulents are a huge category of plants and extremely common to find at any store any time of year. Most plant owners have at least one or two, so you may be wondering if they’re pet-safe.
The answer is that some are and others aren’t, so it should be taken on a case-by-case basis.
Best Practices: Succulents
If you have a particularly curious, plant-chomping pet, it might be best to avoid keeping succulents to play it safe. But if your pet ignores plants, succulents are generally a safe call, especially ones like hens and chicks or echeverias.
Jade, however, is one to avoid.
Another palm option, great for filling your interior space with beautiful greenery, areca palms are full and bushy and truly delightful for sprucing up a sun-filled space.
Have an empty corner that gets a lot of light but needs something more to spruce it up? This is a great solution.
Best Practices: Areca Palm
With the right care and conditions, these can grow up to 5-feet tall, even indoors, with beautiful, expansive (pet-safe) fronds jutting every direction.
In the summertime, they’ll also thrive outdoors.