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Hundreds of common plants are toxic to dogs and cats and can cause sickness or death if ingested.
We spoke to veterinarians and a master gardener to round up some of the best pet-friendly plants.
Here are 15 nontoxic plants for safely beautifying pet households indoors and out.
This article was medically reviewed by Sorin McKnight, DVM, a veterinarian at Wellborn Road Veterinary Medical Center in College Station, Texas.
If you have pets, there may be danger lurking in your garden. More than 400 common plants, including lilies, tulips, oleander, and English ivy are toxic to cats and dogs when ingested or inhaled. While a variety of symptoms are associated with plant poisoning, gastrointestinal distress as well as neurological, cardiac, and respiratory problems are common, according to veterinarian Shermaine Wilson Cox of Royal Paws & Purrs Mobile Veterinary Services in Stone Mountain, Georgia. In the worst cases, toxic plant exposure can even result in death.Pet-loving green thumbs need not despair, however. From annuals to perennials to succulents, there are hundreds of pet-friendly plants that are just as beautiful as their toxic counterparts. We consulted with two veterinarians and a master gardener to come up with some of the best pet-safe plants for indoors and outdoors, along with additional tips on how to keep your pet safe around them.
Here are 15 of our favorite pet-friendly plants to freshen up your space inside and out:
Dose of Succulents/Etsy
Burro's Tail, available at Etsy and Mountain Crest Gardens, from $4.49If you live in a drought-affected region or often forget to water your houseplants, Mary Collins, UC Master Gardener with the UCCE Master Gardener Program of Santa Clara County, California, recommends burro's tail, a succulent that requires very little moisture. The adaptable vine-like succulent cascades beautifully over containers or hanging planters indoors and can be planted outdoors in warm, dry climates. Best of all, because the plant propagates easily from stem cuttings, a single burro's tail can quickly go from only child to one among many.
Orchids, available at The Sill and Urbanstems, from $58One of the world's most seductive and highly sought-after plants, orchids are, mercifully, safe to grow around pets. Because warmth-loving orchids can be finicky, you'll want to prevent pets from wreaking havoc on their delicate stems and petals. Collins recommends keeping these, and other houseplants, on top of bookshelves or other tall furniture where dogs and less agile cats will be unable to reach them.
Thor Backyard Nursery/Etsy
Star Jasmine, available at Etsy, The Home Depot, and Almost Eden Plants, from $12.99Star jasmine produces clusters of fragrant, white flowers against a backdrop of glossy, dark green leaves. Star jasmine can be coaxed into climbing a fence or trellis or used as ground cover and does well in different types of light. Once established, it requires minimal care. But just because star jasmine is nontoxic to pets doesn't mean you should let them munch away, according to Wilson Cox. "In most cases, excessive consumption of any plant material may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset for pets," she explained.
Potting Shed Creations/Etsy
Snapdragon, available at Etsy and Almost Eden Plants, from $9.99For a pet-safe annual that grows well in warmer climates, Collins likes snapdragons which produce spikes of bright, cheery flowers throughout the summer. Attractive to bees and other pollinators, snapdragons can be planted in containers or as part of a landscape or garden. Established snapdragons can withstand temperature drops down to the low- to mid-20s for short periods.
Basil, available at Etsy and Annie's Annuals, from $6.95For a delicious addition to a garden or windowsill, Collins recommends pet-friendly basil. Not only does the herb taste great, some varieties like the lavender blooming "African blue" are as much a feast for the eyes as for the stomach. Keep your basil's soil moist for the best flavor.
Cat Grass, available at Chewy, $13.95Both cats and dogs enjoy eating grass, and while veterinarians aren't exactly sure why, they do know that it provides them with a number of benefits, including added dietary fiber, niacin, and vitamin B. Cats, in particular, use cat grass not just to assist them in coughing up hairballs and vomiting unsettled food but as a source of enrichment and stimulation, Wilson Cox told us. Cat grass, which is a blend of wheat, oats, rye, barley, and flax seed, is easy to grow indoors in moderate sunlight. Look for organic seeds that are free of harmful pesticides.
Jacob's Ladder, available at Bluestone Perennials and Romence Gardens, from $14.95The perennial Jacob's ladder, with its striking purple, blue, or white flowers, blooms in late spring with a fruity, fragrant scent. The hardy, long-lived plant and its fern-like foliage can be used anywhere your garden needs a splash of color, growing best in full or partial sun. Mulching can help to retain the soil moisture Jacob's ladder prefers. Around pets, Collins recommends staying away from highly toxic versions made from cocoa beans and using one made from wood, instead.
Zinnia, available at Romence Gardens, $7.99The beautiful, blooming zinnia is a colorful garden addition that is surprisingly easy to grow. When planting the heat- and drought-tolerant flower, veterinarian Brian Roberts, mid-Atlantic regional medical director of VCA Animal Hospitals, recommends choosing your fertilizer and potting soil carefully. "Many fertilizers contain fish meal, bone meal, and even blood meal, which are very attractive for dogs to eat and can lead to vomiting and diarrhea," he said. Fertilizers containing high levels of iron can also lead to vomiting and even internal bleeding.
Calathea, available at The Sill and Bloomscape, from $36Calathea are uniquely patterned perennials known for lifting and lowering their leaves along with the movements of the sun. These pet-friendly plants are ideal house guests that thrive in bright indirect or low light. To keep prying kitty claws and exuberant pups away, Collins suggests growing them beneath a glass terrarium or upside-down fish tank.
Sunflowers, available at Romence Gardens, $14.99Sunflowers are a gorgeous, hardy plant that Collins enjoys planting in pet-friendly spaces. With long-lasting yellow blossoms that bloom in deep summer and fall, sunflowers are also a great way to attract butterflies and songbirds to your garden. Once established, this drought-tolerant perennial will keep them coming year after year with little maintenance.
Nasturtium, available at Etsy and Annie's Annuals, from $5.95Nasturtium is a no-fuss plant that requires minimal care in exchange for bright pops of color that taste great in salads. The flowers come in a variety of shades and will grow in just about any climate or light. While nasturtium are nontoxic, the pollen from any plant could cause allergies to flare in a pet, said Roberts. If your pet suddenly begins to tear up, sneeze, or cough, a new plant in the garden could be the culprit.
Parlor Palm, available at The Sill and Bloomscape, from $40The festive plumage of a parlor palm adds pet-friendly greenery to any home decor. Parlor palms are easy to grow and, with weekly watering and indirect sunlight, can reach heights of over 6 feet. The tropical plant even helps to purify the air. For more great nontoxic indoor plant ideas, Wilson Cox recommends checking the ASPCA's Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List.
The Home Depot
Roses, available at The Home Depot and Romence Gardens, $24.99If your garden needs a little color, you can't go wrong with roses. Collins likes them not only because they're not toxic to pets but because they're easy to grow in most climates. Just watch out for their thorns — they're sharp little buggers that can easily penetrate a soft paw pad.
Dill, available at Etsy, Romence Gardens, and Annie's Annuals, from $5.95A great tasting herb with delicate yellow flowers, dill thrives both in containers and planted directly in soil. Anytime you plant something new, it's best to keep pets away until it's had a chance to take root, said Collins. Dogs are prone to digging up freshly planted things while cats may see freshly tilled soil as an attractive alternative to the
The Home Depot
Echeveria, available at Etsy, The Home Depot, and Mountain Crest Gardens, from $4.95Echeveria is a charming, easy-to-grow succulent painted a shifting ombre of blues, greens, and pinks. While echeveria can be grown outdoors in warm climates, it, along with succulent cousins like haworthia, makes an excellent indoor plant for all pet households, said Collins. "They are low maintenance and there are so many different varieties of them."
What to do if you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic plant
If you believe your pet has eaten a toxic plant, the first step is not to panic, Wilson Cox told us. Call your veterinarian immediately or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435. If your pet is experiencing a seizure or loss of consciousness, or is having difficulty breathing, though, get straight to your regular clinic or a veterinary emergency room. If you know what your pet ingested, Wilson Cox recommends bringing a sample along with you to help them determine what course of treatment is best.
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