Summer is officially here and plants are on our minds!
Thanks to the miracle of chlorophyll, even during winter plants are fantastic at keeping our indoor air clean and fresh. They’re also great for supporting our mental health by reducing our stress levels. Unfortunately, many indoor horticulturists’ favorite plants are dangerous to the health of our four-legged family members.
Lilies, asparagus ferns, and even aloe vera can be dangerous for curious pets and cause discomfort, illness, or even endanger their lives. Unless you keep your plants high out of reach and are careful about picking up any fallen leaves, it’s best to proactively protect your family by making sure the plants you do bring home won’t pose any risk.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 6 beautiful and commonly available plants that are perfect for improving your home while keeping your pets safe.
Pink Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum): This beautiful plant (pictured above) will bloom nearly all year long starting in February, filling your home with it’s wonderful scent and providing you with beautiful star-shaped white and pink blossoms. In the summer months it loves lots of indirect sunlight, and during the winter it doesn’t need as much, making it perfect for those Pacific Northwest grey days. During the summer the soil should be moist, though you can let it dry between waterings. Water it less through the fall, and let it be slightly dry in the winter and spring seasons. The blossoms require a humid atmosphere which isn’t too hard to achieve in the Portland area, but if you’re finding it’s dropping it’s blossoms too quickly you can set the pot on top of a pan filled with pebbles and add a small layer of water to the pebbles that will evaporate and add moisture to the air.
Note that not all varieties of Jasmine plants can withstand living indoors. Some can grow up to 15’ tall and while that would definitely provide you with a huge wall of gorgeous flowers, it would probably be a little difficult to care for. Make sure that when purchasing a Jasmine plant you find one that can thrive in the indoors. It will also want to trail, so it’s best to set it up on a high shelf, put it in a hanging basket, or give it some scaffolding to climb.
For more information about growing Pink Jasmine indoors, check out this blog post from Dave’s Garden.
Madagascar Jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda): Despite being called “Madagascar Jasmine” this plant is not part of the Jasmine family. Unlike Jasmine which is native to China, Stephanotis floribunda is native to Madagascar. It too has beautiful star-shaped white flowers and smells wonderful, but you’ll find it’s leaves are larger and darker than that of Pink Jasmine. Madagascar Jasmine is a bit more sensitive than Pink Jasmine, but you’ll never have to worry about them when you leave for vacations (maybe to Madagascar!) because here at Hot Diggity! we’re always careful to follow all your household care notes.
Madagascar Jasmine requires strong, but indirect sunlight. They need loamy soil that drains well but maintains moisture. Don’t worry about creating your own mix, just be sure to buy high quality potting soil when going plant shopping. They too need to have humid air, so also consider putting their pot on top of a rock plate with a small layer of water that can evaporate over the day for them. Misting with a spray bottle can also be effective.
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Spider plants are classic, easy to care for, and they sprout lots of new shoots so it’s easy to share them with your pet (or plant) loving friends! They grow well in low-light conditions so they can bring some color to our grey winter days without the need for a grow light. They need a fair amount of water and like to dry out between watering. They’re hearty so even if you’re notoriously bad at keeping houseplants alive (we get it) this is a great starter option!
Spider plants can be grown in pots or hanging baskets, so keep in mind that their stems and grass-like leaves have a tendency to dangle. It might be a good idea to place them high up to avoid any cat-induced accidents – those little tufts can look a lot like feather toys to some – though this is more for the plant’s sake since they’re safe for any curious cat or dog.
African Violets (Saintpaulia)
African violets can bring a beautiful pop of purple, pink, blue, or white to your home (depending on the variety). This generally low-maintenance plant can thrive without bright light and bloom throughout the year, though just like many cats we know, they do enjoy warmth and a sunny spot as much as possible.
Added bonus – they also bring air purifying goodness to your indoor spaces!
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis)
Thanks to Garfield, we know that ferns are not harmful to cats (and the ASPCA confirms that Boston ferns are safe for both cats and dogs). It’s like bringing a little bit of the beautiful Pacific Northwest forest indoors, and just like in their forest homes, they do well with high humidity and indirect light.
If you need to have the fern in a dryer environment (like when we’re all blasting the heat mid-January) you may want to mist it once or twice a week or set it in a tray of pebbles and water. Placing your fern in the bathroom where it naturally gets a steam bath is a great hands-off option!
The Boston fern is one of the easiest to care for, but all true ferns such as the maidenhair are great for pet-friendly households. However, beware some so-called “ferns” such as the asparagus fern, which is in fact part of the lily family.
There are many types of palms that are safe for the furry members of the household, including areca, bamboo, parlor, and ponytail palms, and they’re all relatively easy to care for as well! Despite the sunny beach association the name inspires, palms don’t need a lot of light and do well in just about any room in the house.
The parlor palm (pictured) is a charming houseplant grows in clusters. The areca is a more quintessential tree-like version that can grow to seven feet, while the ponytail palm grows to around three feet, and the bamboo palm really makes a statement at up to 12 feet tall and five feet wide. Keep the size in mind when selecting the location and the pot!
Palms like their soil to dry out between waterings, so you will only need to water once a week (or less). Test the soil before you water and make sure they’re draining well and not sitting in water. Ponytail palms are in fact succulents so their trunks store water and only require minimal watering in the winter. The ponytail palm likes bright light, so in Oregon it could do well being outdoors in the summer and indoors in the colder months.
Keep in mind that (like the “fern”) seeing “palm” in a plant’s common name isn’t a guarantee that it’s safe for pets. The sago palm, for example, is not true palm but rather a cycad and is toxic to pets.
There are many options for pet-friendly indoor plants depending on your style and space and all of these listed are relatively easy to find at the local garden center or nursery. They range in size, color, and shape, and are fairly easy to care for in an indoor setting in the greater Pacific Northwest region so feel free to bring that green indoors!