There are many things that enhance our lives, among them our pets and plants. However, plants and pets don’t always mix. Some plants are not good for them if ingested, while others are toxic enough to kill.
As pets do eat plants, even when you think they can’t get to them, choosing plants that are non-toxic to your pets will help keep them from getting sick, as well as ease your mind, while still allowing you to add some natural beauty to your Waterloo Region home.
Plants can do more than that too. Houseplants help purify the air indoors as well And, studies show that having plants in our home enhances our mood and productivity, as well as the decor. So adding at least a few is a good idea in many ways. Here are some houseplants you won’t have to worry about when it comes to your pets.
Grown for its variegated spiky foliage and endearing baby plantlets, spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) has long been a standby of houseplant lovers. This tropical African native, also known as airplane plant and ribbon plant, forgives neglect and poor conditions, making it a good choice for beginner gardeners. Especially attractive to pets who like to chew are the grass-like leaves, but all parts of the plant are safe if they do chomp down.
The attractive fleshy leaves of radiator plant (Peperomia) come in a myriad of shapes and patterns, making this a versatile design choice as living decor, from small tabletop accents to hanging planters. All species are non-toxic to cats and dogs.
Radiator plants have limited root systems since they thrive in their natural rain forest environment as epiphytes (without soil), so they prefer smaller pots with well-draining soil. These tropicals, which, depending on the species, go by a host of other common names, prefer bright indirect sunshine and humid conditions, though they are also drought-tolerant.
Known for their vibrantly patterned leaves that fold up at night (hence the name) most prayer plants come from the genus Maranta, and some (also referred to as peacock plants) come from the genus Calathea.
Both are good options for low-light rooms and are safe for pets, so you can be comfortable about putting them in the house anywhere. Since these plants remain compact (around 8 to 10 inches tall and wide), they are ideal for small spaces such as bookshelves or end tables.
Some ferns have toxic properties, but others such as Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata) are perfectly safe for pets. While the lush fronds are pretty to look at, they are also appealing to dogs and cats who like to chew.
Fortunately, no parts of the plant are harmful. In a hanging basket, these attractive ferns look amazing, so set up a retro macramé hanger out of the reach of curious pets and put it in a den or living room corner where you’ll enjoy it the most. Since Boston ferns like moisture and strong, indirect light, bathrooms are a great place for them as well.
The round scalloped leaves and trailing habit of Swedish ivy (Plectranthus verticillatus) make this a perfect choice for hanging planters. Also known as Swedish begonia, creeping Charlie or whorled plectranthus, this vining plant—which is not from Sweden, nor is it a true ivy—is actually a coleus relative native to tropical regions of Africa, South America, and Australia.
While some ivy varieties are toxic to pets, Swedish ivy is safe for cats and dogs. This easy-care plant prefers a well-draining potting medium and indirect lights and roots easily from cuttings.
CAST IRON PLANT
For those with busy lifestyles, the cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is virtually indestructible, hence the common name. The glossy leaves and upright habit make this a good choice as a floor plant in a hallway or living room.
Though some pets may find the leaves attractive to chew on, all parts of the plant are safe. Cast iron plants can withstand low light, irregular water, and temperature changes, making it a great choice for novice gardeners.
One of the most popular flowering houseplants, African violet (Saintpaulia) does well in low light found in typical homes. Perfectly safe for pets, these tropical gems are a little more challenging to grow, preferring rich soil and regular fertilizing to achieve optimal flowering. Since the air in homes is particularly dry during winter, place plants on a saucer filled with pebbles and water to increase air humidity.
The horizontally-striped foliage gives zebra plant (Haworthia attenuata) its unique appeal. This diminutive succulent is slow-growing and does best in bright light, making it perfect for adorning a window sill or tabletop where a splash of color is needed. In winter, don’t overwater, and keep plants away from cold drafts. Like other haworthias, this distinct-looking plant is safe for pets.
If you’re lucky enough to have a bright spot in your house, Echeveria, with their fleshy rosettes and bold structure, are a great choice for adding a dramatic splash of living color. They require little water and are low maintenance, perfect for those with busy lifestyles or who are usually not so good at indoor gardening!
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