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Top 12 Pet Safe Indoor Plants for Cats and Dogs (and one that can kill)

As well as a good 100+ houseplants, my place is also home to two indoor-only cats (Bumble and Astro), and a very disobedient French Bulldog (Maggie). From one plant lover and pet lover to another, it has to be said: You absolutely CAN have both and do not have to choose between having pets and having plants. 


Yes, sadly it's true, many indoor plants can be toxic. Some have nasty sap if a leaf gets broken. Many have crystals in the leaves and stems that can make curious mouths itch and swell, or give unpleasant sore tummies. Most are only mildy toxic rather than panic stations. There's one that can be fatal within days unless you seek emergency Vet care (that one's at the end for you cat lovers).


And the same as us humans, some pets react worse than others, which can mean the same plant causes no reaction for one pet, yet a trip to the Vet for another. The good news? Most cats and dogs grow up to ignore your plants once you get past the puppy and kitten stage. More good news? There are LOTS of houseplants that are completely safe in the meantime even if they do turn into a snack. To the plant store!  Here are 12 of my favourites...  

 

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Yes, it's true, most pets do leave plants alone. I've (unknowingly) had toxic plants and pets living in harmony for years with no issues. Or you can shift them up out of harm's way, or hang them (to be clear, I'm talking about the plants here). However, if you're worried and want to be super safe, pick from these 12 pet safe plants and there's no risk of 'curiosity killed the cat' turning from proverb to reality. 

 

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#1 - Stromanthe Triostar


Starting with serious wow factor, first-up in the pet safe plants line-up is Stromanthe Triostar. The close-up above and both images below give you an idea of their amazing colours. This pretty pink beauty is a variegated blend of cream, green and soft pink. That hot-pink underneath their thin leaves means when they're back-lit they almost glow neon pink. Really something special. Not the easiest to care for but worth learning what they love to have such a statement plant in your collection. The Ultimate Stromanthe Triostar Care Guide > will help.

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stromanthe-triostar-pet-safe


#2 - Hoya Australis Lisa 
#3 - Hoya Compacta


Hoyas are one of my favourite plant families with a huge variety to choose from and the bonus of all hoyas being pet safe. I picked just two favourites so this whole list wasn't just different types of hoyas! The colour-changing Hoya Australis Lisa, below, reacts to a little sun-bathing with a gorgeous ruby blush that fades to pale pink on new growth. And if you're lucky enough to be blessed with blooms, Lisa's flowers smell like a mix of vanilla and chocolate. Another of my pet safe hoya favourites is Hoya carnosa 'Compacta' shown in flower below, with its curious curled leaves and flowers that smell strongly of chocolate. If your hoya is all foliage no flowers, here's How to Get Your Hoya to Flower > 

 


#4 - Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis)


Speaking of flowering indoor plants, Moth Orchids are also a pet safe indoor plant option with beautiful blooms. Buy one already in flower with a few buds yet to open and you should be blessed with blooms for up to 3 months. The problem comes when those blooms eventually die. Don't throw your plant out! Here's How to Get Your Orchid to Bloom Again (and again!) >

 

calathea orbifolia pet safe

#5 - Calathea Orbifolia


All Calathea are pet safe :) Like most Calathea, the stunning orb-like, paper-thin leaves of Calathea Orbifolia (above), are far from the easiest care on this list, but worth it for an experienced grower (or if you're blessed with the right conditions). They are one of those extreme plants plant parents seem to find either easy-care or easy-to-kill. Sadly when we moved I went from the first to the second, as I struggled to meet their needs at our new place. It doesn't help that I've changed from an over-watering helicopter plant parent to borderline neglectful under-waterer either, since Orbifolia prefer staying lightly, evenly moist (and love high humidity). One thing they won't cause you problems with is your pets. 

 

spider plant 

#6 - Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)


Creepy name, cute plant. Extremely easy care, low maintenance and pet safe. There are a few varieties of Spider Plants, such as Vittatum with white variegation in the middle, Variegatum or Reverse Spider Plant with the white variegation on the leaf margins (above), and the curly Bonnie (below).


They also put out tiny Spiderettes, also called pups, like this one's doing below. Spiderettes are mini spider plants which you can snip off and pot up for even more spidery cuteness. They make great gifts. My spider plants thrive kept in lightly moist in medium light (I admit I do cheat and wick-water mine since I'm an under-waterer).

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violet
 

#7 - African Violet (Saintpaulia)


The African Violet (above and below), is another blooming beauty that's pet safe. As if you needed another reason to love these little cuties (which by the way got voted 2024's Houseplant of the Year), it turns out Nana's favourite plant is also pet safe. I love these pretty plants with their soft, fuzzy leaves. And once you know how to care for an African Violet, they're really easy to look after. Here's The Ultimate African Violet care guide > to help. But they should also come with a warning. You can't stop at just one! They come in a variety of flower colours and shapes, including shades of white, pink and purple, and my favourites have variegated leaves and flowers.  

AV

 

#8 - String of Turtles (Peperomia Prostrata)


Don't get me started on String of Turtles (below). I'm obsessed with those tiny, turtle-shell leaves. Even though they're pet safe I still keep my turtles up high as my cats will tell you those long dangling strands of tiny leaves are made to be played with. These are another that can be hit or miss with nailing their care but once you know where they come from in the wild, and how to give them the conditions they love at your place, it all becomes much easier. This will help: The Ultimate String of Turtles Care Guide (and how not to kill them) >

 

string of turtles pet safe

pet safe peperomia


#9 - Watermelon Peperomia (Peperomia Argyreia)


Another eye-catching Peperomia to add to your pet safe list is the Watermelon Peperomia (above). Being a semi-succulent there's a little learning curve to know when to water their fleshy leaves that hold water in reserve, so these aren't the best choice for over-waterers. Another problem I found early on with mine was cracked and split leaves, which I later discovered was a simple fix. Here's why and how to fix it: How to Fix Curled, Cracked Leaves in Your Watermelon Peperomia >   


#10 - Birds Next Fern (Asplenium nidus)


Before you see the word Fern and jump ahead to the next pet safe plant on the list, wait a moment. The Birds Nest Fern (above), isn't your typical fern. It's one of the easiest care ferns out there and hardier than most. 


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#11 - Chain of Hearts (Coropegia woodii)


Pet-safe Chain of Hearts also make an awesome hanging cat toy (as my two four-legged furballs can attest to). I love their long vines of sweet little heart-shaped leaves, especially the variegated Chain of Hearts which turn pink in the sun (above). Happy, healthy Chain of Hearts might surprise you by growing a 'pod' or tuber. Those unusual looking white balls are actually a really good sign. Find out What Those White Balls Are on Your Chain of Hearts > (and what to do with them).  


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polka pet safe


#12 - Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes)


I had SO many Polka Dot Plants (above and below), at one stage because these pretty plants are super easy to propagate (I may have taken it a bit far). To keep them compact and bushy, pick a spot with really bright light, keep them lightly moist, and snip off those tips regularly, otherwise they can get a bit leggy. Keep the tip and plant it back into the soil or pop it in water as they root quickly and easily.   


polka white

pet safe polka dot plant

See? There's no need to choose between pets and plants! You can definitely have both live happily and safely together :)

 

PS: Watch out for lilies that kill 


No, NOT the innocent Peace Lily (which isn't a lily at all). It's day lilies and true lilies you must steer clear of, often found indoors in cut flower arrangements from the florist. Those types of lilies can be fatal and cause irreversible kidney damage for cats in particular within just days if not treated as an emergency without delay. Even just licking the pollen off their fur. Yes, it's scary stuff. That's not to say the Peace Lily is totally pet safe. It is still mildy toxic. Like most indoor plants it does still have calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves, which can irritate sensitive pets if chomped on, however it rarely requires vet attention. Find out more here: Will Your Peace Lily Kill Your Cat?  

 

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