I am new to houseplants being toxic/poisionous.

Troy, MO(Zone 5b)

I had never given thought to houseplants being dangerous. I have three dogs and cats that are inside pets. Now I find out that almost any plant I have or buy is dangerous. What are safe houseplants (either blooming or foleage) that do not require much light? I have a sun room, but want plants for my living room and it has low light. I want plants in my house for better air quality. But want safe ones for my furkids/

(Zone 1)

Hi Lovemyfurkids! I love my Fur Babies too and I love my plants! I have been keeping house plants for 40 years and have had many pets over the years too. One kitty that lived to be 24 years old! We currently have 4 cats in our family. One of my cats has a tendency to chew some of the plants. I keep a spray bottle of water nearby and whenever I catch her I give her a spray from the water bottle. Unfortunately this particular cat now thinks it's a game. When she sees me with the water bottle pointing at her, instead of running (as the other cats do) this one sits and squints her eyes waiting to be sprayed! We had a cat once named Crazy Cat .... I'm thinking this one should have that name instead of Cookie!

Anyway, I know there are many plants that are toxic to children and animals if they eat enough of it. Here's one website that lists a few:http://www.blankees.com/house/plants/poisonous.htm

And another that lists plants and symptoms of poisoning: http://dogs.about.com/cs/disableddogs/l/blplants.htm

And this site lists a few that are NOT toxic to pets so you might want to check out this list:

I have found with cats they seem to go towards plants like spider plants or any plant that has the feathery type foliage. I usually try to every once in awhile buy them their own little pot of catnip from the produce section in the grocery store, or I will buy the cat grass seed at Pet Smart or one of the other pet supply stores. The seed sprouts really quickly and the cats love it! With catnip they of course adore it too and I have to snip off a leaf or two for them once in awhile or they will devour the plant in minutes! Sometimes making themselves sick with too much of it! We haven't had dogs in a long time but we used to just make sure our dogs had chew toys so they didn't bother the plants. My sister has a dog that got very sick from chewing a houseplant when they were at work one day. Fortunately he is a huge dog and it didn't kill him. I worked with a couple years ago who raised St. Bernard dogs and one of them ate a small poinsettia plant (highly toxic) - they rushed him to the vet and he did get real sick - vet told them if it had been a small breed dog he probably wouldn't have survived but since this was a huge dog he was okay.

I guess we just have to be very careful when we have children and pets - to watch them as closely as possible and try to keep plants out of reach. I guess if they can be trained from a young age that plants are a no no, they do learn not to bother with them. I'ts just an ongoing process.

Another list of Safe Houseplants for having around pets: http://www.mynahbird.com/articles/plants/plants.html

I hope you don't give up totally on having indoor plants to enjoy .... some can co-exist with your fur babies!


I do believe most of the Gesneriads are non-poisonous. You should visit us on the African Violet and Gesneriad forum. I'm sure you will find pictures of many plants in that family you'll love! :o) Here's a link to the forum: http://davesgarden.com/forums/f/av/all/

Chicago, IL(Zone 5b)

Hi lovemyfurkids, I don't know if you're aware of it but Bitter Apple works pretty well as a pet deterent. My daughter has had success using it. You spray it on the leaves. It doesn't hurt the plants, but pets hate the taste of it and will leave the plant alone. You can buy it at any pet store.


(Zone 1)

Sharon: Thank you so much for that tip ... I've got to look for that at the pet store the next time I go!! What a wonderful idea!

Chicago, IL(Zone 5b)

You're welcome. Glad I could be of help.

El Paso, TX(Zone 8a)

Hi lovemyfurkids. I asked this question about a month ago and got some good responses. Here's a link to the forum:


The gesneriads are a great way to go for non-toxic plants. I've noticed that most of the common low light plants are toxic, i.e philodendron, pothos, dracaena. Lots of ferns are non-toxic and there are several non-toxic twining plants that I've found. One of my favorites is the ornamental sweet potato vine.

Chicago, IL(Zone 5b)

Bitter apple (or similar) usually works great! But it may be a good idea to test it out on something before you go to all the trouble of spraying all your plants - some cats & dogs just act like it's salad dressing. :)

Luckily, most "poisonous" houseplants are only mildly toxic, and are so irritating to the mouth and so nauseating that most pets will never eat enough to be in serious danger - they will be uncomfortable and vomit, but not die. Of course there are exceptions.

LILIES are very very poisonous to cats! Not many people grow lillies (is it one L in the middle or 2?) indoors, but if you have an arrangement with cut flowers, keep them well away from your cats. For some reason cats love to smell and nibble them, and even a little bit of flower or pollen can cause kidney damage. I have had cats (and dogs and ferrets) and houseplants for years and get by with moving some out of the way, training them not to mess with others, supervision, and bitter apple, but I wouldn't even risk having lillies in the house. (I don't think Daylilies are included, just the "true" lilies, btw.)

Good luck finding a compromise between your green pets and your fuzzy ones. :)

Chicago, IL(Zone 5b)

My veterinarian's cat died after nibbling on Easter lilies!

Medford, NJ

My sister in law lost a cat not long after he nibbled on a "Dumb Cane." I wouldn't have that one in my house. I am fairly lucky though, I have one of those weird cats that does not chew on plants.

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