Flowers and plants have some similarities with pets. There are many health benefits to having both pets and plants in your life. Both plants and pets can brighten up your surroundings and lift your mood.
Studies on the benefits of plants that measure blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormone cortisol have shown that plants can ease mental stress, boost mood and promote a feeling of calm. Therapists sometimes use gardening as a therapeutic tool to treat psychiatric conditions because taking care of plants can lessen anxiety and help combat depression.
Similarly, and perhaps even more so, there are health benefits to having a pet. Activities like walking and playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. The companionship a pet provides lower stress, brings happiness and combats loneliness and depression. Pets that you take on outings can even lead to friendships and opportunities to socialize with other pet owners.
Since there are benefits to both plants and pets, you may be considering having both in your life. However, not all flowers and plants are safe for pets. Like children, pets will sometimes eat things they shouldn’t. Many plants and flowers are toxic to pets, which is why any flower or plant brought into the house must be safe for any pet family members.
We looked for dog-friendly plants, cat-friendly plants and plants to appeal to the more exotic and often more delicate pets like small mammals, reptiles and birds. While the plants we are sharing are not toxic, it is still a good idea to keep your pet on the appropriate diet and avoid the pet eating items you may not know are safe or are part of their natural diet. Always consult your pet’s vet before feeding any plants, including fruits and vegetables, you aren’t sure about.
Since we never want any flowers or plants to lead to regrets, we assembled this list of safe plants for pets…
Boston ferns are popular houseplants, and with the right care, they are easy to maintain. Best of all, Boston ferns are safe for pets. Whether you own a cat, dog, bird, small mammal or a reptile, Boston Ferns are great to have around. In fact, they can even be used in terrariums for reptiles.
The scientific name of this plant is Nephorlepsis exalta, and they need a cool location, high humidity and indirect light. Make sure their soil stays damp and plant in a mixture high in peat moss that can be soaked once a month.
Spider plants are one of the easiest plants to grow and maintain. They are incredibly forgiven even when they get briefly neglected. These cute dangly houseplants are also incredibly safe for our many pet friends.
These cute houseplants need well-drained soil that gets a chance to dry out a bit between watering. They do best with bright, indirect light. Spider plants are safe for all pets, including some of the more delicate pets like birds and reptiles, but the most interesting fact is that they will attract a cat.
You are probably wondering why or maybe assuming it is because of the little spiderettes that dangle as the plant grows. However, this harmless plant is mildly hallucinogenic to cats and gives a similar feeling to catnip. If you have cats and spider plants, you might want to talk to your curious cats about overindulging in hallucinogens. Don’t worry, even if your cat doesn’t say no, the hallucinogen is as harmless as the plant.
Hens and Chicks
A cute little succulent with an equally cute name is hens and chicks. This succulent is safe for all pets, as it is not known to contain any toxins. Whether you have dogs, cats, small mammals, birds, reptiles or horses, these safe plants are fun and easy to grow. They grow best in mild temperatures near a bright window and add a nice pop of color to any location lucky enough to enjoy their presence.
Areca palms are safe for pets and were once an endangered species. These lovely plants look a bit like bamboo. They do best with bright light, high humidity and mild temperatures. These plants are sensitive to overwatering and can be finicky and difficult.
Beautiful and found in a range of vibrant lavenders, blues, pinks, reds, and white, depending on the variety, African violets are safe for pets. Both the plant and the flowers are non-toxic, and some people even incorporate them into reptile habitats.
African violets will bloom with lower light, but medium to bright indirect light is best. These pretty flowers do best in loose, well-drained soil with high organic matter content. Keep their soil slightly moist, use room temperature water and avoid getting water on the leaves.
Don’t Take a Chance on These Plants
Sadly, many plants are toxic to pets to varying degrees. Some can cause vomiting, difficulty swallowing and gastrointestinal distress, but others can cause more severe symptoms like liver failure, seizures, cardiovascular collapse, coma and, in some cases, death.
Some of the beautiful but deadly toxic plants to pets, according to the ASPCA, include lilies, marijuana, sago palms, tulip bulbs, azaleas, oleander, cyclamen, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, English ivy, peace lily, pothos and schefflera.
Every year, pets lose their lives to some of these plants. Some pets recover if they receive immediate medical attention at an animal hospital, but that is an emergency. If you have pets, always research any plant before bringing it into your home, yard or any area where your pet might have access to it.
Some other popular plants that may cause mild sickness we want to mention are snake plants, rubber plants, philodendron and poinsettias.
Plants and Pet Enrichment
While we benefit from being surrounded by plants and nature, many pets do, as well. Check with your pet’s veterinarian to find out what plants are safe to incorporate in your pet’s environment to add color and texture to both of your lives.
Once again, even if a plant is safe, it may not be a good idea for your pet to eat it. Always supervise your pet because you never know what trouble he or she might get into.
Also, getting some sun is often beneficial if it is done safely, without the worry of losing your pet. This is another topic you can discuss with your pet’s veterinarian.
If you would like to incorporate some flowers and plants to your home, our florists at Palmer Florist - 1-800-Flowers serving areas around Westchester, IL, would be glad to help. If you have pet family members, let us know, so we avoid certain flowers and plants. We want you and your pets to stay safe and happy while enjoying the beauty of flowers!