Ask A Plant Queen: How Do I Keep My Pet Babies From Harming My Plant Babies? & Vice-Versa

Welcome to Ask A Plant Queen, where with the help of Tula founder and bona fide plant expert Christan Summers, we'll answer every question you've ever had about the care, keeping, and presentation of houseplants. No need for you — or your pretty green pals — to thank us.
Question: "What’s your advice for plant/pet cohabitation? Are there certain plants that are safer to have around pets? Are there certain varieties that pets are less likely to nibble on or mess with? Is there anything I should or should not do to ensure pets and plants can exist together safely?"
Christan's Answer: The cohabitation of our furry and green friends can be a hairy situation (pun, intended). I always say that every pet is different, so it’s best to consider the behavior of yours, and then find your best plant to match. If you’ve never grown plants and pets together, you may need to try a few things when you bring one or the other home for the first time. For instance, when you bring a plant home, place it where you’d like it to grow, but have a backup location that is out of reach in case you see your furry friend take a great interest in the newest member of the family. It’s also good to give your pet some time to get bored of the plant. So, if they show interest, don’t move it away immediately. Let them scope it out, but keep an eye on them to ensure they don’t ingest any leaves or branches.
Your pet may not be allergic to certain plants but allergic to others. For example, the Chlorophytum comosum aka Spider Plant is said to be safe for pets, and our cats LOVE this plant. I have it growing on the top shelf of a bookcase, unreachable by them and without fail, every time I bring it down to water, those felines are behind me, stalking in no time. In the past, I let them chomp away but quickly realized (after a few upset stomachs) that the Spider Plant is, in fact, not safe for my cats. On the other hand, we have a Ficus elastica aka Rubber Plant, which is said to be extremely toxic to pets and one day, our cat took some healthy bites into the leaf. By the time we realized (we found bite marks in the leaves), it was days later and there had been no upset stomachs. Since that time, she’s never shown interest in it again so we never moved it to another location.
Now, in saying that, there are some basic tricks and tips that apply to pets and plants:
Cats love to bat and chew at hanging plants. So you may want to steer clear or find an unreachable shelf for the following plants: pothos, spider plant, philodendron cordatum, maidenhair fern, and certain varieties of pilea when they get long.

Cats and dogs love to eat plants that looks like grass (spider plant, maidenhair fern, etc).

Spiky plants are usually fair game. The worst that usually happens is they prick themselves, and learn. And with cats they can easily knock a cactus/euphorbia off the window sill as they climb over it, which has happened to our Euphorbia Ghost a few times (ugh).

Anything that looks like a stick may not be the best idea for a new pet (especially a puppy). The Euphorbia tirucalli aka Pencil Cactus is one of those plants and is also extremely toxic to pets and humans if ingested.

You can also try to train your pets with a spray bottle. When they start to nibble or scratch, spraying a little water their way usually does the trick in communicating, off-limits! And if you’re against actually getting water on your pet, you can just spray in their direction and that usually works just as well.

Euphorbia plants have a milky white latex that is toxic if ingested and a skin irritant to humans. So you may want to steer clear of this specie if you have very curious pets.

We’ve also found that pets who are seeking attention usually find the prized possessions in the house to nestle, chew, or bat. So if you find this happening often, perhaps your furry friend just needs a little loving. Put down the spray bottle and pick them up for a little one on one time.
With all this in mind, below is a list of plants below that are characterized as generally pet-friendly. Again, your pet may be sensitive to certain plants on this list, so introduce plants slowly and consider your pet's behavior when doing so. It may turn out that your furry friend could care less about your plants and you can grow whatever you want.
Pet-Friendly Plants List:

Adiantum capillus-veneris, Common Maidenhair
Aeschynanthus radicans, Lipstick plant
Aspidistra elatior, Cast iron plant
Bambuseae, Tropical woody bamboo
Beaucarnea recurvata, Ponytail palm
Calathea Lancifolia, Rattlesnake Plant
Calathea makoyana, Peacock Plant
Calathea Zebrina, Zebra Plant
Chamaedorea Elegans, Parlor palm
Chlorophytum Comosum, Spider Plant
Dypsis lutescens, Areca Palm
Fittonia albivenis, Silver fittonia (mosaic plant)
Hedera Helix, Common ivy
Hoya Carnosa, Wax plant
Hypoestes phyllostachya, Polka Dot Plant
Maranta leuconeura, Prayer Plant
Nephrolepis exaltata, Boston Fern
Pachira aquatica, Money Tree Plant
Pilea cadierei, Aluminum plant
Pilea peperomioides, Chinese Money Plant
Plectranthus australis, Swedish Ivy
Polystichum munitum, Sword Fern
Saintpaulia, African Violets
Schlumbergera x buckleyi, Christmas Cactus
Sedum Morganianum, Burros tail succulent
Tillandsia, Airplant


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