10 unique and pet friendly house plants that will give you peace of mind

30 July 2020

Broghan King, MSc, Companion Animal Nutritionist

As both a pet parent and a plant lover I was disheartened to learn that some plants are toxic to pets, as it limited the selection I could choose from for my home. Plant shopping became a stressful and tedious job as the plants I found captivating were toxic and a potential threat to my cats’ health. However, not all is lost. Over the years I have dug up some beautifully unique plants that are non-toxic, proving you don’t have to sacrifice safety for style.

Here are 10 easy to care for plants currently in my home or on my wish list.

1. Pilea Peperomioides (Chinese Money Plant)


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This is a new addition to my plant family. It is a relatively easy plant to care for; it needs medium to bright indirect light and only needs to be watered when the soil is almost dry. This plant also produces a lot of babies, so you can propagate them and share them with friends and family. 
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; low water requirements

2. Pilea depressa (Baby Tears)


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Another new addition to my plant family. Baby tears make a great hanging plant as it doesn’t grow tall but will flow over the sides, draping beautifully. This plant likes bright, indirect light and lots of water, so keep the soil moist but be sure to not overwater. 
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; high water requirements

3. Haworthia attenuata (Zebra Haworthia)

 
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This plant gets its name from its white striped pattern, resembling that of a zebra. I’ve owned multiple of these succulents over the years and it almost feels like they are indestructible. They are very low maintenance, needing little water and indirect light. 
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; low water requirements

4. Hoyas: Hoya carnosa (Hindu Rope) and Hoya Kerrii (Sweetheart)


Left: Hindu Rope (Source)
Middle: Flowering Hindu Rope (Source)
Right: Sweetheart (Source)

I only discovered hoyas last year, but they have quickly climbed to the top of my favourites. These beautiful succulents are also referred to as “wax plants” for their thick and waxy leaves and, under the right conditions, these plants can produce clusters of magnificent flowers. These plants require direct sunlight and only need to be watered when the soil is dry. 
Tips for care: Bright, direct sunlight; low water requirements

5. Ceropegia woodii (String of Hearts)


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This vine type plant has beautiful leaves in the shape of hearts that would look great in a basket or draped over a piece of furniture. This plant is a semi-succulent and only needs to be watered thoroughly when the soil is dried out. This plant likes bright, indirect sunlight and will get anywhere from 2-3ft long. 
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; low water requirements

6. Saintpaulia (African Violet)


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If you’re looking for a pop of colour, the African Violet comes in a variety of colours. This plant does best in bright, indirect sunlight and doesn't need to be watered often, but when you do make sure it's from the bottom. Watering from the top can damage the leafs. 
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; low water requirements

7. Maranta leuconeura (Prayer Plant)


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This plant got its name from the way it folds its leaves together at night, resembling hands during prayer. The prayer plant requires bright, indirect light and prefers soil that stays moist. Be careful not to overwater.
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; high water requirements

8. Asplenium nidus (Crispy Wave)


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This beautiful Japanese fern is said to have good air-purifying capabilities due to the folds increasing the surface area of the plant. The crispy wave likes indirect light and soil that is constantly moist, but not wet as this could cause root rot.
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; high water requirements

9. Sedum morganianum (Burro's Tail)


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Like most succulents, Burro’s Tail is easy to care for as it is very forgiving to neglect. Let the soil dry out between waterings and place this plant in a location that gets bright, indirect light.  I’d recommend a hanging basket for this plant. If you have a cat like mine they may pick off all of the leaves as they are perfectly weighted to toss around.
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; low water requirements

10. Peperomia argyreia (Watermelon Peperomia)


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Named after the popular fruit due to the striking resemblance, this plant thrives in bright, indirect sunlight but also can survive in low light conditions. This semi-succulent has low water requirements and is very forgiving to neglect.
Tips for care: Bright, indirect sunlight; low water requirements

I’ve owned both plants that my cats have had no interest in and plants my cats have spent hours snacking on. For that reason, it’s best not to take a chance on bringing a toxic plant into your home. A great resource to determine if a plant is toxic or non-toxic to dogs and cats is the ASPCA; they have an extended list of plants to help determine what is suitable for a pet-friendly home.

Some of these plants are sold at big box gardening centres, but the more unique ones can be found at smaller houseplant boutiques. Buying the younger plants will be less expensive and allow you to take part in the rewarding experience of growing your plant to maturity.