Pet Safe Plants

If your pet likes to nibble on the greenery from time to time, it’s important that they can only access plants that are safe for them to ingest! Rather than memorising a full list of safe and unsafe plants, it’s better to group them into easy categories that make plant shopping a breeze.

Safe Plants

Ferns

Generally, ferns like a consistent level of moisture in their soil, which means that frequent watering is key. For you, this may mean watering once every one or two weeks. They aren’t low-light plants, and need to be in a well-lit spot. Morning sun is great for them, but otherwise you want to keep them in a bright space.

Ferns are very easy plants to grow but get a lot of bad press; generally, all they need is a bright spot and moist soil! It is much simpler than you think!

Common varieties to look out for in Melbourne indoor plant nurseries: Maidenhair Ferns, Boston Fern, Macho Fern, Hare's Foot Fern, Blue Star Fern, Leather Leaf Fern, and Birdsnest Ferns.

Palms

There are a huge variety of amazing palms to choose from. Some of them, like the Rhapis Palm or Cascade Palm, can handle low light, while Golden Cane Palms and Kentia Palms need a bright space and can even grow outside in Melbourne. Palms have sensitive roots, so if possible leave them in their plastic pots and do any re-potting with care. Keep your palms slightly moist with small regular waterings.

Common varieties to look out for in Melbourne indoor plant nurseries:
Kentia Palm, Cascade Palm, Rhapis Palm, Parlour Palm, Golden Cane Palm. 

Prayer Plants - Marantaceae

These plants are very easy to identify due to their very vibrant leaves, and large pulvinus, a thicker part of the stem you will find just below the leaf which allows the leaves to move throughout the day (nyctinastic movement). At night the leaves stand upright and then come down during the day to catch the light, hence the common name of Prayer Plant.

These plants will often tolerate low light, but if given a bright space they will grow very fast. Keep them out of the path of the heater/air conditioner and any drafts, as this will dry them out quickly. Many of these varieties are more tolerant of dry soil than they appear, with many of them happy to have their top inch or two of soil drying out.

Common varieties to look out for in Melbourne indoor plant nurseries:
Calathea, Ctenanthe, Stromanthe, and Maranta 

Pileas & Peperomias 

These are perfect if you are looking for something that stays small. These plants are all very low-maintenance, and generally will only need water once they are very dry, because they are so succulent. Peperomia obtusifolia can definitely tolerate lower lighting, but generally these plants do best in a well-lit space.

Common varieties to look out for in Melbourne indoor plant nurseries:
Peperomia obtusifolia, Peperomia caperata, Pilea peperomioides (Money Plant), Pilea cadierei (Aluminium Plant). 

Hanging Plants 

Finding a hanging plant that is pet friendly can be hard, but there are definitely still heaps of options. Hanging jungle cacti such as Rhipsalis, Epiphyllum, and Lepismium have super unique foliage and beautiful flowers. These are all super low maintenance.

There are tons of Hoya varieties to choose from. These are very well-known for their stunning flowers and fast growth. They love to be in a cramped pot and are happy to dry out! Definitely keep these in a bright space.

Cissus rhombifolia/antarctica are very fast growing plants that come from the grape vine family (Vitaceae), and are happy to grow inside or outside in a bright spot. These plants can hang, but can also climb using their tendrils to wrap around any support they find.

Chain of Hearts are a fast-growing option that requires very little water. They actually grow quite well in a dimly lit space too! Their vines will hang straight down and can become several metres long. 

Other plants to check out!

Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), Orchids (Phalaenopsis), Bromeliads, Fittonia, and air plants (Tillandsia). 

How to check for yourself:

If you’re unsure about a plant or it’s not in this article it’s super easy to figure out if it is toxic. Google the plant name and add ‘ASPCA’ or ‘toxic’ for some good results. If you find a plant that is safe or toxic then generally most of the other plants in that family will share that characteristic making it easy find what you want quickly. 

Toxic Plants

It is important to note that just because these plants contain toxins, it does not mean you should be afraid of them. The toxins of indoor plants only have any effect if the leaves are chewed on and swallowed. Simply touching them or being in the same room won’t hurt your pets.

Most animals have no interest in these plants, and even if they bite or nip the leaves they will not be affected. 

Araceae

This family makes up the majority of common indoor plants. Their toxicity comes from a defence mechanism found in their cells to discourage grazing from animals. Chewing and ingestion of the leaves may cause irritation. Common varieties to look out for in Melbourne indoor plant nurseries: Monstera deliciosa, Monstera adansonii, Devil’s Ivy, Peace Lily, Philodendrons, Anthuriums, Zanzibar Gems, Syngoniums, and Dieffenbachia.

Figs - Ficus - Moraceae 

The sap of figs contains latex which some people can be very allergic to. These plants also contains an enzyme called ficin which can cause irritation if ingested, or comes into contact with skin and eyes.

Common varieties to look out for in Melbourne indoor plant nurseries:
Ficus elastica (Rubber Plant), Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig), Ficus pumila, Ficus microcarpa (Pot Belly Fig), Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig). 

Other Common Toxic Plants:

Schefflera (Umbrella plant), Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise), Sansevieria (Snake plant), String of Pearls (Senecio sp.), Dracaena, and Begonias.

Common Misconceptions:

Peace lilies are not true lilies. They are in the family Araceae and are totally fine for your pets to be around even when they are in flower. Do not let you cats near true lilies (Lilium) or daylilies (Hemerocallis), as all parts of this plant will cause renal failure. Dogs, rabbits, and rats are not affected. These kinds of flowers are typically used in flower arrangements and bouquets. If your pet eats some leaves of a toxic plants they aren’t going to die and most likely you won’t need to go to a vet.

I've found this article to be a great resource if you want to learn more.

What else can you do?

A lot of amazing plants contain toxins. In some cases you may be better off to completely avoid them. If you do decide to have some toxic plants in the house there are a few things you can do to help your pets do the right thing!

- Keep your pets occupied. Bored pets may chew leaves even if it hurts their mouth.
- Walk your pets enough!
- Remove the temptation by moving plants to a high up place.
- Train your pets. Positive reinforcement works best.
- Rewarding your pets for not biting the plants. This works better than punishing them.
- Provide alternatives like cat grass.
- Start with non-toxic plants to test your pet’s reaction.

In most cases they probably won’t even notice your stylish new plants. Check out this article for more training tips.

Disclaimer: Greener House takes no responsibility for what you do with your plants, and your pets. We are not trained veterinarians. Use this article as a guide to help you make your own informed decision. Contact if your veterinarian if you have concerns.

Greener House is an indoor plant nursery based in Melbourne, Australia. Find us at 95 Sydney Road, Brunswick. We focus on houseplants but also stock a great range of pots, and accessories!