Wednesday, 10 January 2018
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Houseplant Safety for Pet-Friendly Homes

Today is Houseplant Appreciation Day, and if you're a nature-loving animal-loving person (like me!) then you're keen to share you home with both plants and pets. With a little extra knowledge and some strategic placement to avoid unwanted nibbling, knock-overs, or (eek!) potty problems, indoor plants and pets can safely share your space. Not only can houseplants beautify your space, they can also help to purify the air (always helpful with pets...hehehe...), regulate humidity, and boost your well-being.

Red peace lily flower on a green background


This post has been created in collaboration with our partner blog Green in Real Life and by invitation from the creative folks at Fix to share their pawesome pet plant safety infographics.  The poisonous plant graphic below is an excerpt of a more comprehensive graphic and article at Fix.com. Check out their full How to Grow Houseplants without Harming Your Pets post for more great info on pets and plants.

Diagram of 10 common poisonous houseplants
Choosing Safe Plants As with pet-friendly gardens, indoor planting choices and placement are important for pet safety.   Many common plants can be toxic if eaten (like the peace lilies pictured above) and/or cause contact irritation.  The ASPCA has a great tool for checking for potential pet-toxic plants. This is especially important if you have a young puppy/kitten or a grazer.  It's worth a little extra effort to check for safer varieties and/or be aware of potentially hazardous plants if you have tiny paws (and/or tiny human feet!) at home.

Choosing Suitable Plants Safety isn't the only determining factor in suitability. Different plants will be better suited to your growing conditions depending on the ambient conditions of your home and the room/position in which they will be placed, such as temperature, humidity, and light.  By selecting well-suited varieties, it will be easier to grow healthy houseplants. Yay for simple!

Plant Placement Being safety conscious doesn't necessarily mean eliminating all potentially hazardous plants. Placement and access control can play a role in keeping your pets safer. Tip: Bouquets and seasonal decorations are lovely, but may also contain potentially harmful plants and require similar care. On the flip side, some plants are pet safe but highly attractive (catnip, anyone?) or doggone delicious and may also need to be access controlled.  For any plant, be cautious of placement to minimise tip risks.

Other Safety Considerations  Be careful with any chemicals used with your plants, including the actual potting soil mix itself as well as any sprays, plant foods, or fertilisers. Eco-friendly or natural products can still be toxic.  Read labels carefully, try to select safe alternatives, and store with care.

Potty Problems Large specimen plants, it might look like an attractive litter box alternative. Eek! I haven't (fortunately) experienced this, but have heard that topping soil with pebbles or similar can help.  If your dog decides a large houseplant might be a prime spot for marking, nip unwanted bathroom behaviour in the bud by gently and methodically reinforcing house training. Remember, punishment isn't the answer. 

Caution: If the behaviour starts suddenly without recent changes to your indoor jungle, consider whether physical/mental health or other environmental stresses may be causing your pet to behave out of character. Misusing houseplants might be a symptom, not the source of the issue. Have a chat with your trusted vet for guidance and advice.


Got your green thumb itching to start planting?  Perfect!  If you're feeling the plant-paw love, you can even create an indoor garden especially for your pets. This could be as small as a few pet-friendly herbs (you can share them) on your kitchen counter or as elaborate as an indoor garden. Size wise, this is perhaps a little more practical for cats than big dogs like mine - I'd need a whole room for our beasts and that would definitely create a few potty problem risks! Haha!  Fortunately, our climate allows us to enjoy our outdoor pet-friendly garden all year round.

Looking for more pawesome inspiration?  This post will be pinned along with plenty of other doggone great tips and ideas on our Better Living with Pets Pinterest board.  

Have a pet-friendly plant tip to share? Perhaps a tale of potted plant potty woe? Whatever your thoughts, we'd love to hear from you - comments are always welcome here, including related links if you wish to share.  To leave a live link, you can use the following format as a guide: <a href="http://www.yourlink.com">text you want shown for your link</a>. 

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