Finding Pet-Safe Houseplants for Your Home

Considering the health of your pets when picking out houseplants for the home.
It’s important to know which plants you can or can’t have with pets.

Photograph courtesy of Fern Shop Cincinnati

In the years since the pandemic and the long hours spent indoors, many have sought the influence of the outdoors in their home. Houseplants provide many benefits to one’s life and home, including purifying the air, improving mental health, and increasing focus.

When bringing greenery into your home, it is important to think of your furry friends. To avoid potential health scares and large vet bills, it is important to understand each plant before your purchase. Many indoor plants can be toxic, but that doesn’t mean your dream of being a plant parent is over.

Safe Plants For Your Pets


Boston, maidenhair, and rabbit foot are just a few Fern varieties that will keep your home looking lush, while keeping your pets safe. Ferns love hours of indirect bright light and must be watered frequently. Keep an eye out for asparagus “ferns” though. While resembling many fern varieties, this plant is more closely related to the lily family and is very toxic to pets.

‘Prayer Plants’

Known for their folding foliage which bends and dances with the light throughout the day, “prayer plant” is a common name that is often used to reference several varieties of houseplants. Pet friendly varieties of the “prayer plant” are part of the calathea and maranta plant families. While calatheas and marantas are often thirsty and somewhat dramatic, their bold foliage and unique design are a crowd pleaser amongst plant hunters.


The pilea family is best known for the popular and bouncy houseplant: Pilea Peperomioides. Commonly called the “Chinese money plant,” these fun and funky houseplants are a perfect fit for a pet-friendly household. This plant is appreciative of once-weekly watering and bright indirect sunlight throughout the day.


This fun plant family holds many different shapes and colors, with leaf foliage often round or dewdrop in shape. Peperomia watermelon, named after its close resemblance to the fruit itself, is a favorite amongst the plant community, along with other more mysterious and strange varieties like peperomia Silver Ripple, Rosso, Moon Valley, and Pixie Lime.

Plants To Avoid

When it comes to keeping your pets, it is always a “better safe than sorry” mentality. The toxins in many plants can cause mild mouth irritation, swelling of the gums, and vomiting. There are many plant varieties commonly given as gifts and seen as staple houseplants that are best kept far away from pets.

Peace Lily

Spathiphyllum, or Peace Lily, is a common houseplant that is often associated with solace and remembrance, given as gifts of condolence, or chosen for their crisp white blooms and ability to thrive in low light. All parts of the Peace Lily contain microscopic needle-like crystals known as insoluble oxalates. When the oxalates come in contact with the mouth and tongue, they cause an immediate burning sensation leading to drooling, excessive licking, pawing at the mouth, vomiting, and pain swallowing.


Common names for this variety are rubber tree, fiddle-leaf fig, Ficus Audrey, and Ficus tineke. This species of plant belongs to the genus Ficus and contains a sap that can even cause irritation to human skin. It can cause many concerning symptoms in pets that encounter it, including decreased appetite, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.


Lilies in the Lilium genus, often called “true lilies,” are not a houseplant but are commonly used in flower arrangements brought into the home. These flowers are highly toxic to cats, and exposure to any part of the plant— leaves, flower, pollen, or even water from the vase— can lead to sudden kidney failure.

How To Keep Pets Safe

It is important to always take your cat to the vet if you suspect a toxic plant has been ingested. More preventative ways to keep your pet safe include keeping plants out of houseplant-accessible areas, instead displaying plants on high shelves or cabinets, or inside small indoor greenhouses.

Local Plant Spots 

Fern Shop Cincinnati

A local favorite, Fern Shop offers a variety of pet-friendly houseplants that are brought in on a weekly basis with staff ready and available to help you find the perfect plant for your space. 6040 Hamilton Ave., College Hill, (513) 541-1269

Gia and the Blooms Findlay Market + OTR

A well-loved local spot to find flowers and houseplants with several pet-safe varieties to choose from, you’ll find more than one happy houseplant addition. Findlay Market: 1801 Race St., OTR: 1227 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 487-0915

Growing Trade Pet & Plant

A unique combo of pet supply shop and plant nursery, Growing Trade offers many varieties of indoor and outdoor plants along with supplies for your four-legged friends. 3840 Spring Grove Ave., Northside, (513) 541-1321

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