When the weather turns cold and winter is on the horizon, most people retreat to the comfort of their own homes — but that doesn’t stop them from wanting a few pieces of greenery around to add color and comfort to a room.
Unfortunately, not every houseplant is safe for your pets to be around. Cats and dogs alike tend to nibble on the leaves of any accessible plants, and some common houseplants are actually very toxic.
While you should try to keep any houseplants out of reach for your pets, it’s still wiser to have a good idea of what you can — and can’t — safely bring into your home, especially during the holiday season.
What Plants Are Toxic to Cats and Dogs?
Some traditional holiday favorites are off the list of “safe” plants when you have pets. The poinsettia, for example, is well-known to irritate the mouths and stomachs of both cats and dogs.
What other plants are toxic — or even fatal — to your pets? The list includes:
- Mistletoe: While not all varieties are toxic to animals, some can cause seizures, heart problems, vomiting and diarrhea when ingested by pets.
- Holly: The spiny leaves can injure a pet’s mouth and digestive system and the chemicals in those leaves can cause severe intestinal distress.
- Christmas Cactus: These popular holiday shrubs are very dangerous to both dogs and cats, causing bloody vomiting, breathing problems and more.
- Most Lilies: Lilies of all kinds, including the popular Peace Lily, can cause fatal electrolyte imbalances and kidney failure in cats.
Some of the other plants on the “no” list may surprise you. Aloe, for example, can cause vomiting and tremors, while Pothos plants can cause breathing problems and swollen mouths.
What Plants Are Safe for Your Fur Babies?
Sometimes it’s just easier and smarter to avoid trouble in the first place. If you pick plants that are non-toxic to your pets, you won’t have to worry about keeping them away from your cat or dog.
Some of the top choices for pet-safe houseplants include:
1. African Violets
Between their velvety leaves and their colorful blooms, these beautiful plants are always a low-maintenance favorite for indoor beauty. They thrive well in low light and they prefer consistent temperatures and average humidity — just like humans.
2. Basil, Sage and Thyme
If you have culinary aspirations, it’s great to have fresh herbs at your disposal. While lavender and oregano can be problematic with pets, basil, cooking sage and thyme are all safe. Plus, these plants are easy to pot and keep in a kitchen window where they can get plenty of sunlight during the day and lend their aromatic fragrance to the air.
3. Spider Plants
The spider plant is hardy enough to survive most “black thumbs,” and they’re great when it comes to purifying the air. Once they get going, a single plant can produce tons of little “babies” or offshoots, that you can plant separately or let hang for extra ornamentation. Spider plants are considered completely safe for pets, so you don’t have to worry about your cat chewing on any stray shoots.
4. Royal Velvet Plants
If you love purple, you’ll love these plants. Their leaves have an iridescent purple fringe that never fades, so you’ll always have some color in your home when they’re around. These plants are also very easy to manage because they require little care and infrequent watering to thrive.
If you have a sunny window seat in your home that seems barren, liven it up with some Gloxinia blooms in blue, red, purple or pink. These plants are popular gifts, but they pose no threat to your furry friends. (You do, however, need to remember to water these plants regularly if you want them to thrive.)
6. Baby Tears
You may really love the look of hanging vines in your home. Since Pothos plants aren’t safe for your pets, however, finding one that meets your needs can be tough. We’d recommend the “Baby Tears” plant. Their tiny, lush leaves can form a thick drape down the side of a hanging basket or shelf and make a great background plant when you need to fill up a space.
7. Venus Flytrap
If you like the idea of having an exotic plant around, the Venus Flytrap is perfect. These plants are safe for pets, fun for kids to watch and great at keeping your house free from winter flies. They take little effort to maintain and make a neat conversation piece, as well.
8. Boston Fern
There’s something wonderfully “summery” about fern plants, so bringing a Boston Fern into your home can refresh the air, add beauty and lift your spirits in the middle of winter. They don’t require a lot of care, and you can let your cat bat at the leaves to their heart’s content. It won’t hurt a thing if your dog takes a nibble, either.
Orchids are heartbreakingly lovely and delicate-looking, and they’re a lovely addition to any home. If you love them, you can safely have as many as you want without putting your pets in harm’s way. Their fragrant blooms can brighten up your home for months, so long as you maintain them.
There are plenty of ways to liven up your home’s decor, but natural elements are always helpful if you want to create a soothing retreat from the world — which is exactly what your home should be.