I love plants, especially beautiful houseplants. Healthy, economical plants can make any space warm and inviting — not just for humans but for pets, too! Some cats and dogs enjoy taking a nibble or two. And that’s a problem because some indoor plants are toxic to cats and dogs.
If you have pets but also enjoy beautiful indoor foliage, you want to find a few plants that are conducive to your home and design taste and then stick to them. With the exception of edibles like cat grass, it’s always better to keep house plants out of a pet’s reach if you can. The following options, (available at most garden centers or online) are recognized as nontoxic for pets by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
One of the most popular houseplants, African violets (saintpaulia), are amazing indoors because they have the ability to bloom in low light and love the same kind of indoor conditions that humans enjoy — moderate temperatures and average humidity. These beauties, with their velvetlike leaves, are available in many varieties and colors.
A popular houseplant favorite, the Boston fern (Nephrolepis), has beautiful shaggy leaves that are nontoxic to cats and dogs. What a terrific addition to a guest room, bathroom or any area in your apartment, house, condo or recreational vehicle. It will brighten up any space. Boston ferns love humidity and lots of bright, indirect light.
POLKA DOT PLANT
The white, pink and red splashes of color on the polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) are so much fun and add a bit of whimsy to any indoor space. Even though this beauty is not toxic to pets, should your cat decide to make a meal of it, he or she may experience mild digestive upset, if you know what I mean. Keep this in mind as you select the perfect spot for polka dot plants.
Peperomia is one of my favorite indoor plants because it is forgiving. It doesn’t mind being neglected, as in, forgetting to water it. The lush foliage of Peperomia is filled with a diversity of texture and color. It looks great in a hanging basket and is not toxic for dogs or cats.
While the mosaic plant (Fittonia spp.) has several common names, I prefer its common name “mosaic” to another of its monikers such as “nerve plant.” Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Like your cat might have a seizure should she get into it. But that’s not it at all. You can be assured that a mosaic plant’s white or pink veining is not at all toxic to cats or dogs. Mosaic plants enjoy low light and moderate watering.
This tough plant creates a lot of curiosity for pets but is not toxic to cats or dogs. Plus, it’s so easy to maintain. Just give a bromeliad (Bromeliaceae) plant a bright window and humid environment, and it will bloom like a champ! And grow to 20 inches or taller just to prove how happy it is to be gracing your pet-friendly home.
Large houseplants can make a beautiful, bold statement, but most are toxic to cats and dogs. One that is not harmful at all to pets is a banana tree (Musa acuminata). Give it rich soil in a big pot (it’s going to get really big!), bright light and regular watering to emulate its natural habitat. Then watch it grow right before your eyes.
Would you like more information? Go to EverydayCheapskate.com for links and resources for recommended products and services in this column. Mary invites questions, comments and tips at Everyday Cheapskate.com, “Ask Mary.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a lifestyle blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”