Pet Friendly Plants: A Guide to Protecting Your Food and Friends


Pet friendly plants are the best alternative to co-existing in the same space. Let’s say that you live in the city and you want a garden and you have pets.  You want them to co-exist amicably.  It can happen.  Whether your fur baby is a cat or a dog, they and your plant life can thrive.  Let’s examine the plants: herbs, vegetables, and florals that will make your indoor garden an oasis.  And how to make your oasis safe for every member of your family.  There is a list of plants safe for pets. Maybe that is the best option to keep your pets safe while enjoying the zen of plants.

Pets and Indoor Gardening

Whether you are a cat person or a dog person, or even if you have no preference, pets and indoor gardens can exist in harmony, especially by getting common houseplants safe for indoor pets.  This is a guide to help you protect your plants and protect your fur babies. The indoor garden is your oasis in the middle of the city.  The fur babies are your family.  Both exist to make your life better.  But some plants can be toxic to some members of your family, so it’s wise to learn how to keep cats out of flower beds.  And some members of your family can be quite toxic to your plants.  Let’s try to minimalize both in your urban oasis.

Indoor Cats

Cats exist both indoors and outdoors.  If your cat exists indoors there are few items, you will need to keep their minds off your plants, including a cat repellent or just purchasing pet friendly plants. But first, don’t bar the cats from the plant room, because as you know, the cat will become curious as to why he isn’t allowed there, and then bad things will happen when she gets around to getting in there…and she will. Don’t get plants toxic to cats.

The most common malaise for an indoor cat is not enough exercise.  Any cat tree, cat house that requires her to jump and climb is helpful if the climb isn’t getting her close to your spider plant (more on that later).  If your cat isn’t getting enough exercise, she becomes bored and that’s when plant life becomes imperil. 

A scratching post is a great idea.  It will keep them from scratching your furniture, it may also keep her for using your potting soil and the base of any sturdy plant as a scratching tool.   Also, one windowsill will be the cat’s windowsill, if you insist on having plants in that window, make sure there is room for both to co-exist.  And ensure the plant in the windowsill are houseplants safe for cats, maybe some cat grass or catnip?

Best Dogs for Apartments

Some dogs are better in apartment living than others.   Here are seven breeds that are the best, although there are many more:

  1. Rescue dogs, go to a shelter and adopt a dog.  A senior dog or a puppy, they are all perfect and all need a home.

If you can find ones that have a mixture of these breeds even better.

  • Mastiff: Don’t be fooled by their size.  Mastiffs are active and go through a “destructive puppy” phase…so be patient but once they are out of that stage, give him a daily walk and they are a great companion for apartment dwellers.
  • Greyhound: Tall and lanky, but they love their naps.  Greyhounds laid-back dogs who rarely bark and are easy to train.
  • Pekingese: They are small dogs whose loyalty is beyond question.  But they like to be the only child so socialize early.  Pekingese also tend to be protective so expect that bark when a stranger approaches your space.
  • French Bulldog: They love to play and love human contact.  But the French Bulldog is a low activity dog.  And if he is barking, there is usually a reason.
  • Great Dane:  Size matters and they are sizeable as most weigh over 100 pounds.  But as far as exercise, they are not a fan.  They are also not real big on barking so if that is your worry, worry not.
  • Bulldog: Did you know a bulldog won “Best Snorer” in the American Rescue Dog Show, so there is that. 

These by far are not the only dogs that like the urban lifestyle, there are many more.  Check out a more completed list on Dogtime.com. And did I mention your local shelter has your best friend feline or dog, just waiting for you?

Indoor Plants that are toxic to dogs and cats

  1. Alocasia: the leaves, stems, and roots are moderately toxic
  2. Aloe: The pulp and juice are mildly toxic if ingested, but for your medicinal purpose the aloe plant is good to have around.  For that end find a safe spot to grow your aloe.
  3. Arrowhead plant: all parts of the plants are moderately toxic if contacted or ingested
  4. Asparagus Fern: also called a lace fern its foliage and berries are mildly toxic if ingested
  5. Begonia: the whole plant contains insoluble oxalates making it mildly toxic
  6. Cactus: The whole plant but the spikes are moderate to highly toxic. The cactus plant itself is usually a good deterrent for most pets. 
  7. Daffodils: the entire plant but specifically the bulbs are toxic
  8. Dracaena: is a genus that consists of 40 species of woody and shrubby plants; all parts of the plants are mild to moderately toxic
  9. English Ivy: all parts of the plants are poisonous if ingested
  10. Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil can cause lethargy and irritation to a dog, and the smell of eucalyptus oil can trigger the bad mood of your dog, something to remember when burning incense. 
  11. Gardenia: all parts of the plants are mildly poisonous if ingested
  12. Geranium: all parts of the plants are toxic
  13. Lilies: the call lily, kafir lily, flame lily, peace lily, are all toxic
  14. Oleander: it is a poisonous plant, the whole plant is highly toxic
  15. Ornamental pepper plant: all parts of the plants are toxic
  16. Philodendron: all parts of the plants are mildly toxic
  17. Sago Palm: the whole plant is highly toxic if ingested
  18. Tulips and Hyacinths
  19. Weeping Fig and Rubber Tree Plant: all parts o the plants are mildly toxic
  20. Poinsettia: Mildly toxic to pets keep this in mind around the holidays. 

There are many more house plants that are toxic to both cats and dogs, so that is why it is best to get pet friendly plants.  There are also some that are only toxic to cats and not to dogs and visa versa.  This link to the  ASPCA contains the Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number as well as a more complete list of toxic and non-toxic plants.

If you have one of these plants and you can’t stand the thought of getting rid of the plant, in addition to keeping the plant out of reach (as much as you can), water the leaves and cover them in cayenne pepper to make the plant much less palatable. 

    This is not a comprehensive list, but a list of herbs that are toxic to your pets that you may think of growing in your indoor garden. 

Herbs that are toxic to dogs and cats

  1. Chamomile: Chamomile is safe is products.  The plant is toxic to dogs, if ingested. 
  2. Chives: Dogs can handle low doses, however again you don’t want to see your dog chomping on chives. 
  3. Garlic: Dogs can tolerate some garlic, but keep a close watch because garlic is five times as toxic as onions.

Vegetables that are toxic to dogs and cats

  1. Tomatoes: if you are the brave one trying to grow a tomato plant inside, don’t fret.  Tomatoes are themselves not harmful to pets BUT the stems and leaves of the plant are toxic to your friends. 

Remember the roots, vines, foliage of eggplant, garlic, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and mushrooms as well as unripe fruit should never, ever be eaten by your dog or cat. 

Plants that are safe for dogs and cats

In addition to your herbs and vegetables you just might want to have some plants that are not only pleasing to the eyes but are taking out the toxins that may be lingering in your apartment. 

  • African violet:  This plant needs a nice warm sunny spot.  So as your cat curls up next to it, rest assured that it is not doing her any harm.
  • Areca palm: Most varieties of the palm family are safe for your pets; the areca palm is the easiest if you are just starting out.
  • Bamboo: The potted kind will grow as large as you let it. 
  • Boston Fern: This plant is great if you live in an environment known for its harsh winters.  As you are blasting yourself with heat, the fern is acting as a humidifier. 
  • Cast Iron Plant: Is particularly great for those who don’t think they can grow anything.  And even if your fur babies decide to nibble on the leaves, they are non-toxic and both the plant and the nibbler will survive. 
  • Money tree: Known to reduce toxins in the air, and bring you good luck, the money tree is also pet friendly.
  • Spider plant: so first the good news, the spider plant is a good-looking plant and clears the air of toxins, but its beauty is also it’s downfall.  The plant leaves hang down in various lengths making it much to interesting for your cat.  Hang it high and there should be no problems.
  • Tradescantia Zebrina:  Okay the name is ridiculous, but you know the plant, it blooms with a mixture of purple and green leaves.  It is non-toxic.
  • Wax plant: This plant reduces toxins found in paint, gasoline or smog.  And while it is doing that it is non-toxic to both cats and dogs.

Plants listed above in addition to being non-toxic to your pets, are also known as plants that will aid in purifying your environment.  When you grow plants, herbs and vegetables inside, your urban dwelling becomes your own little oasis for you and your furry friend.  When you grow these plants you are eliminating benzene, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde from your living space.

And even though the plants are non-toxic, avoiding the nibbling on the leaves, steams and flowers should be avoided.  It deters bad habits, and the plant will thank you for it.

Herbs that are good for dogs and cats

While these herbs are good for your pets, that doesn’t mean we want them chewing on them while they are growing.  As we all know cats are by nature curious and puppies are by nature biters.  So, while these herbs are non-toxic and will provide benefits to you and your pet, it is important to keep them as far from temptation as you possibly can. 

Also remember when growing your herbs to use non-chemical fertilizers.  That is the benefit of an indoor garden, no pesticides on your herbs and vegetables. 

  • Basil:

Basil acts an antioxidant, antimicrobial and antiviral, let’s just call it, it is a power plant.  There are some studies that suggest it might also aid in helping your dog with arthritis. 

  • Catnip:

The one herb you will not be partaking in, is good distraction for your cat.  Keep your cat from digging as the plant is growing as it is a delicate early on.  Once you have solid growth allow your cat to chomp away, or clip the plant, let it dry and put it in her favorite toy.

Also used to keep the curious from what you don’t want and steer her towards something that is both beneficial to her and non-worrisome to you.

  • Oregano:

This is a power herb, known to aid in arthritis, Lyme and other tick borne diseases, while also providing immune system support

  • Parsley:

Is the world’s most popular herb.  It is a “chemoprotective” food because it may help neutralize a variety of carcinogens including the benzopyrenes in cigarette smoke.  Mix a small amount of your freshly cut parsley into your dog’s food to help freshen his breath.

  • Peppermint:

Not only will the smell of fresh peppermint liven up your surroundings, but it can also be used to settle an upset stomach in you and your dog.  But for cats, if eaten in large amounts will cause an upset stomach.

  • Rosemary:

High in iron, calcium and B6, it also acts as an antioxidant. 

According to Dogs Naturally, herbs help maintain dogs at a healthy performance level with just a sprinkling on their food.  You can either use the herb fresh or dried and remember size matters.  For smaller dogs just a pinch to their food should do the trick.  For larger dogs, a teaspoon should be enough.  Try adding one herb at a time over the course of a week to ensure it agrees with your dog’s system. 

Vegetables that are good for dogs and cats

Once your indoor vegetable garden has harvested, then consider these fruits and vegetables good for your pet.  And yes, some are fruits and vegetables that may be slightly more difficult to grow inside, but if you are the daring type…these edible plants are pet safe.

  • Asparagus: Not for the faint of heart indoor gardener, asparagus’ reach heights of one to three feet with a width of three and six feet.  Very few containers will be able to handle that mass.
  • Broccoli: Each plant needs six hours of sunlight a day and three feet or more of growing space.
  • Carrots: The easiest vegetable to grow indoors, you can have baby carrots or get a larger pot and grow out the carrots.
  • Celery: Another plant that can be grown from the base, by putting the base in water and placing it in a sunny window, you have started your own celery farm.  
  • Cauliflower: It is salad time.  The roots of a cauliflower plant are shallow, just get a wide base.
  • Cucumbers: Choose a type that of cucumber that is made for indoors.
  • Lettuce: If you have 12 hours of sunlight you can have the base of your salad right indoors.
  • Spinach: The spinach plant needs some shade, it is ideal for indoors.
  • Zucchini: It may sound crazy, but zucchini can be grown indoors as long as you have a window that will give plenty of sun.

You have your herbs and you have your vegetables.  Your salad game is strong, chances are your furry friends are going to be thinking the same thing.  While all these vegetables are non-toxic, as with any plant you want to keep the nibbling, while growing at a minimum or eliminated.  The plant will thrive and you won’t have those anxious moments.

The emergencies you didn’t see coming

  • Cat decides to use your plant as a litter box.

This is going to happen.  It’s okay.  First and foremost, replace the soil immediately, if the cat smells the urine, she thinks she has found a new litter box.

Next, spray the new soil with a mixture of lemon juice or peppermint and water (three parts water one-part peppermint or lemon juice).  Spray daily but just a couple of squirts should do the trick. 

If your cat is stubborn and still insists on the plant as her litter box, make sure you are using positive reinforcement to get her to understand the difference between the littler box and the plant soil.  Give her treats when she goes to the litter box.  In dire situations or training, you may have to confine the cat to the room with the litter box for a couple of days.  Make sure she has food and water and you check in and see how she is doing while talking calmly (stress in your voice can cause stress in her reactions).  It is better if the room is where the permanent home of the litter box is located. 

  • Dog decides he doesn’t want to wait for the plant to grow before eating

A simple solution is, of course, moving the plant out of the reach of the dog.  But sometimes that may prove detrimental to the plant and not such a great idea if your oasis consists of more than one tasty plant.

Spray the plant with the aforementioned mixture of lemon juice and water as a cat repellent or even for dogs.  Dogs do not like the smell of citrus.

You can also spray your vegetables with a white vinegar mixture.

And since we are talking about gardening the following foods may be dangerous to your pet

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Apple seeds
  • Apricot pits
  • Avocados
  • Cherry pits
  • Chocolate and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol
  • Coffee
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Gum
  • Hops (for you homebrewers)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Mushroom plants
  • Onions and onion powder
  • Peach pits
  • Potato leaves and stems
  • Raisins
  • Salt
  • Tea
  • Tomato leaves and stems
  • Walnuts
  • Yeast dough

If you believe your pet has consumed any one of these, or for the more rambunctious ones several at one time, monitor the pet.  There is a 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center if you can’t get ahold of your veterinarian.  Pet Poison Helpline number is 855-764-7661.

These are outdoor plants that are safe for dogs

And if you are interested in having a “sensory garden” for your dog

   Think of planting these plants in your indoor garden:

  1. Barley grass: It has the added benefit of helping a dog’s upset stomach.
  2. Chamomile: This is a calming agent.  But keep account of how much is ingested.  If a dog ingests large amounts for a long time it can have a negative effect on your dog.  As it is toxic to your pet, keep it out of reach while growing.  Their sense of smell will still get the whiff it needs.
  3. Lavender: Is also calming and soothing for dogs.  But it should not be used around cats.
  4. Mint: Is refreshing for the sensory and gives them fresh breath.
  5. Rosemary: Is energizing.

Your indoor garden and your furry friends can coexist, it just might take a little planning and a bit more patience, but it’s worth it.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

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