We love our furry friends, but any dog owner knows that sometimes, pets and houseplants just don't mix. Whether it's a wagging tail knocking over a pot or a pup that decided to chow down on your favorite plant, caring for an indoor garden and an energetic dog can be a challenge.
Luckily, there are plenty of beautiful, easy-to-grow, non-toxic houseplants you can use to decorate your home that won't endanger your beloved canine if they decide to take a bite. Here are some of our favorite plants that are safe for dogs.
Few houseplants are cuter than Fittonia, also known as Nerve Plant—so named because of its veiny leaves outlined in pink, white, or red against yellow-green or dark green leaves. This plant thrives on the gentle, indirect light of a north-facing or east-facing window. If you have a brighter window facing south or west, keep it several feet away from the glass and consider using translucent blinds or shears to soften the light. Group your nerve plant together with several other plants to help create a humid environment in which it can thrive.
Colorful, brightly patterned Calathea are some of the prettiest houseplants out there—but they can also be a challenge to keep healthy, especially if your space is very dry. Luckily, there are several ways to give yours the jungle-like humidity it needs. You can group it together with several other plants, which naturally give off moisture; site it in a room with other humidity-loving plants and run a humidifier nearby; keep it in your warm, humid bathroom; or use a pebble tray. Simply fill a shallow tray with a layer of small pebbles and place the plant on top of the stones. Add a bit of water to just below the bottom of the pot, checking to make sure the surface of the water doesn't come into contact with the pot. The water will slowly evaporate and humidify the air around your plant. Just don't forget to check the water level occasional and add more as needed.
This charming, rosette-shaped succulent, which has many different cultivars, is known for its pointy green spines, often adorned with stripes. Luckily, the whole species is designated by the ASPCA as non-toxic to dogs, from the classic zebra-striped cultivar (Haworthia Fasciata) to the translucent, pastel-toned Haworthia Cooperi. Keep an eye out for rare variegated types at plant shops and nurseries.
This rosy Bromeliad, also known as crimson cup or aregelia, is just one of these tropical plants that are designated as dog-safe, along with the varieties Earth Star, Silver Star, and Mosaic Vase. The main thing to know about this Bromeliad is that it's epiphytic, meaning it doesn't grow best in regular soil but in a growing medium like sphagnum moss mixed with coarse sand. You could also use a blend of equal parts perlite, peat moss, and orchid bark. Keep the mix lightly moist but not soggy. Keep this plant in a warm, humid spot with bright, indirect light. Keep the central cup of the plant filled with distilled water or rainwater, refilling it with fresh water once a month or so.
The lush, feathery fronds of the Boston Fern evoke classic elegance—and no wonder, since ferns have been popular houseplants since the Victorian period. This type of fern can grow quite large and full, making them an excellent candidate for hanging in big bay windows or displaying on a spacious side table. Make sure you display them in a place with bright, indirect light that's away from drafty areas or air vents. Unless you're aiming to grow a particularly large specimen, plan to divide your Boston Fern and repot with fresh soil each spring. It gets a fresh start for the season, and you get another beautiful plant to care for or give to a friend.
The Staghorn Fern is one of the most striking houseplants out there, with its green, antler-like foliar fronds radiating from a papery base of foliar fronds. Like Bromeliads, Staghorn Ferns are epiphytes, clinging to tree branches and absorbing moisture and nutrients through their roots from the air. For this reason, they need a loose, well-aerated growing medium like sphagnum moss or a blend of equal parts succulent soil and orchid bark. They can be grown upright in a pot, but they're displayed best mounted on a wooden plaque, board, or branch and hung on the wall (another plus when you're hoping to keep them away from curious pets). Seeking a plant with longer, more ornate foliar fronds? Look for specimens designated as Elkhorn Ferns.
Unlike most types of plants, Lady Palms were cultivated by humans rather than sourced from the wild. This variety is a fan palm with deep green or variegated leaves striped with yellow or white. Use a well-draining potting soil and keep the soil consistently moist—not soggy and not too dry. Display these versatile, adaptable palms in a spot with bright, indirect light; for darker green leaves, give them a little less light. Keep it out of direct sun, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow and burn, damaging your plant.
If you've ever owned a Christmas Cactus—or its close relatives, the Thanksgiving Cactus or Easter Cactus—you know that preparing for its annual bloom is almost as exciting as the holiday that gives it its name. The way to do this is to "trick" the plant into flowering by cutting back on watering and putting it in a place with cool temperatures and less light roughly six weeks before its typical bloom time. The plant should get 12 to 14 hours of darkness each day (this can be done by putting it in a closet or a large cardboard box at night) in a space with temperatures between 55 and 60 degrees. After the six weeks, give it a little more light and warmth, then look for buds to appear. Put the Christmas Cactus back in its usual spot and wait for the beautiful pink, red, or orange flowers to open.
Named for the silvery markings on its textured green leaves, the aluminum plant is a member of the Pilea genus. They're vigorous growers with stems that will spread if allowed to do so. Keep yours in a place with bright, indirect light in the summertime, shielding it from direct sun, and move it to a better-lit spot in winter to keep it healthy. If your plant becomes tall and leggy, you can punch back the tips to encourage fuller, bushier growth.
It's fortunate that some of the prettiest, trendiest succulents are also safe for pet-owning plant lovers to keep around. Along with its relatives Copper Rose and Painted Lady, Blue Echeveria is non-toxic to dogs. These colorful, rosette-shaped desert plants add variety to any plant collection. Be sure to keep them in a warm place with lots of bright, full sun to keep their distinctive coloring. Since they don't need much water, they're a very low-maintenance plant. With enough light and proper care, these plants can produce flowers in spring and summer.
One of the easiest houseplants to find—and one of the easiest to care for—is also non-toxic to pets. The Spider Plant, also known as the Airplane Plant, is a must for any plant lover, from black-thumbed beginners to expert indoor gardeners. Its lush, jungle-like leaves add a tropical feel to any space, and it can go weeks without water, thanks to its fleshy white roots that store water for drought conditions (if yours starts looking pale and droopy, that's a sign it's ready for a drink). Best of all, with enough light, Spider Plants will send out stems with baby Spider Plants for you to propagate.