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Your ultimate guide to pet-friendly houseplants

By Beverly Ngai 14 December 2020

Header image courtesy of @urbanjungle.pt (via Instagram)

Since the dawn of the COVID pandemic, the world has seen a surge of interest in houseplants and indoor gardening, flooding our Instagram feeds with plants galore. And who’s to blame? Whilst stuck at home, one of the best things you can do to instantly boost your mood, productivity, overall well-being is sprucing up your space with some greenery and botanical beauty.

However, things get a little complicated if you are a pet owner, as many plants can actually be very dangerous to keep around cats and dogs. We know you want the best for your fur babies, so to help you safely indulge your houseplant addiction, here is your guide to pet-friendly houseplants!

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Common houseplants to avoid

If you have a curious pet around, chances are your beloved companion will be tempted to take a nibble out of your leafy lovelies. Unfortunately, a large number of popular houseplants do not mix well with pets—and in some cases could even lead to deadly consequences.

Some common indoor plants that are moderately toxic to cats and dogs include aloe vera, Chinese evergreen, ZZ plant, jade plant, and fiddle leaf figs, while highly poisonous ones that should be avoided at all costs include lilies, devil’s ivy, sago palm, elephant ear, and philodendron.

With that said, the list of plants to watch out for goes on; so we strongly recommend checking the toxicity of specific plant species before you make a purchase!

Top pet-friendly houseplants

Photo credit: seven75 (via iStock)

Air plants

Perhaps you want to devote more of your attention to your four-legged friends, or maybe you simply don’t have a green thumb—either way, air plants are a great option for those looking for a low-maintenance houseplant that’s non-toxic to cats and dogs.

As their name suggests, these plants absorb most of their nutrients directly from the air and they don’t even need soil to grow! This means that you don’t have to worry about your pet knocking over a flowerpot and spilling dirt all over the floor and there are infinite possibilities of displaying your plants.

You could go the traditional route and have them on a windowsill, but why not break things up and fix your gorgeous greenery onto a wall or hang them from the ceiling?

Photo credit: @ plants.baby_ (via Instagram)

Maidenhair fern

Turn your home into an ethereal green oasis with the airy, fan-shaped foliage of maidenhair fern! This plant gets its quirky name from its unique fronds that resemble the full and lush tresses of a young lady—and that of the finicky type too, or so they say. Indeed, this plant loves moisture and requires a bit of diligence with watering to flourish, but luckily Hong Kong’s notoriously humid weather makes tending to them a much easier endeavour. Friendly note: Not all ferns are pet-friendly (one to steer clear of is the asparagus fern), so read the labels carefully and beware of what you are bringing home!

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo credit: @__p__a__t__t__y__ (via Instagram)

Spider plant

Although its arachnid namesake is not typically a welcome sight in most people’s homes, we guarantee this slender, green plant will appeal to your visual senses. Flaunting long, arched leaves that drape gracefully from its container, a spider plant will add a dramatic flair to any interior space, and it doesn’t require a ton of care either! As long as you keep it out of direct sunlight and remember to water it occasionally, this plant will stay in good shape. And the best part? It can even double as an air-purifier by removing toxins like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene from its surroundings!

Photo credit: @botanicchapel (via Instagram)

African violets

If a bold splash of colour is what you need to complete your room, look no further than African violets. Flowering year-round and coming in eye-catching shades of purple, blue, white, and pink, these velvety blooms are sure to brighten up your room (and day!) throughout all the seasons! Think of their needs the same way you would a human: They prefer a moderate temperature of between 16 and 25 degrees Celsius and thrive in bright, indirect light. Too strong sunlight would scorch their delicate leaves!

Photo credit: @littlestories.athome (via Instagram)

Areca palm

Longing for a tropical vacation? Introducing a palm plant to your space will boost those laid-back, resort-style vibes and instantly transport you back to your last beachside holiday. While many varieties of palm plants are safe for pets, we are partial to the elegant areca palm.

Growing up to two metres tall, this easy statement plant features long, upwards-curving fronds and a cluster of bamboo-like stems at the base. To ensure that your plant is happy and healthy, keep this palm in a bright but shaded spot and water it every two to three days just so that the soil stays slightly damp.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the guide 👇

Photo credit: @plantsoffice (via Instagram)

Watermelon peperomia

Both you and your fur kids will love this fun, leafy plant—how can you not with its beautiful, variegated leaves that look like tiny watermelons? Easily distinguished by the green-and-white striped pattern marking its waxy, teardrop-shaped foliage, this whimsical plant typically does not grow past 30 centimetres tall, making it an excellent décor option for your coffee table or bookshelf.

Like most of its peperomia relatives, the watermelon peperomia hails from the tropical rainforests of South America and prefers a warm, humid environment. As for light needs, it can tolerate a lower light environment, but it is best to keep the plant in a well-lit room and rotated regularly for even growth.

Photo credit: @succulentsofthemoon (via Instagram)

Echeveria succulent

When it comes to indoor plant décor, succulents are some of the trendiest and most sought-after choices; and for obvious reasons—they are delightful to look at, come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and can withstand a good deal of neglect. Many succulents are non-toxic to animals, but we particularly love echeverias, which are known for their stunning rose-shaped formations and pastel colour palette. From muted blues to powdery violets, the varieties are endless; you are bound to find one that will tickle your fancy!

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Beverly Ngai

Junior editor

A wanderer, chronic overthinker, and baking enthusiast, Beverly spent much of her childhood in the United States before moving to Hong Kong at age 11 and making the sparkling city her home. In her natural habitat, she can be found baking up a storm in her kitchen, journalling at a café, or scrolling through OpenRice deciding on her next meal.

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