Pets and Plants – Are they safe together?

Let’s be honest, we don’t always know exactly what we are signing up for when we get a new plant (or pet for that matter!) as most garden centers and stores seldom label their plants side from an “Assorted Tropical” tag in the planter. Harmless, right? It can lead to some devastating outcomes for both your pet and plant. Let’s dive into this deeper.

There are actually four different classifications of Phytotoxins (plant poisons) that can have a negative effect on both you and your pet – if mishandled. The four types according to the Britannica Encyclopedia are as follows: Plants that are poisonous to eat, plants that are poisonous when touched, plants that produce photosensitization, and plants that create airborne allergies. We love comparisons here, so I have compiled a short list of examples for you.

1) Croton – This beautiful tropical is a staple in many homes for its vibrant and stunning foliage of vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, and green that comes at a very low price point – and often unlabeled. (Poisonous if consumed, causing vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, lethargy, and depression.)

2) Euphorbia – If you collect succulents, you probably have a euphorbia in your collection. The sap of these plants is very toxic when touched (or accidentally nibbled on by a pet). Neither us nor our pets want the discomfort of swelling or blistering, yuck!

3) Buckwheat or St. John’s wort – Okay Okay, we probably don’t have these in our home but it’s worth the mention to add it to the list so that we are aware of the effects they can cause! If the leaves of these plants are ingested, it causes a sensitivity to sunlight on your skin, swelling of eyelids, and convulsions. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

4) Box elder, Ferns, Orchids, Marigolds – A couple of these may come as a surprise though this is a short list of plants that you may own that can cause both you and your pet allergies! Runny nose and don’t know why? Try removing these plants from your home and running a HEPA filter for more comfort for you and your pets.

So now what? Do we ditch all our plants? Absolutely not! They provide so many amazing benefits to your home! We want all that clean pure air that we can get! What we will do in the future is to become more aware of what we bring into our homes to enhance the symbiotic relationship between us, our pets, and our plants so that we may all thrive together! For the plants you currently have and love that may be on this list, here are some suggestions to keep you and your plants safe:

  • We suggest having a pet proof designated area in your home from them, think bathroom counter with the door closed.
  •  Using macrame hangers so that they are out of reach will bring your guests eyes up off the ground as well as keep those pets safe (and vice versa!)
  • Consider installing a mini greenhouse (Ikea Milsbo trend here’s looking at you!). With the plants nestled nicely into a mini greenhouse it not only protects your fur babies, but the increased humidity in the cabinet will also increase your plants’ growth significantly! Win-Win!

We will be continuing this trend of safe plants for your home, so check back for the next installment of articles to help you become the best pet parent possible.


Article by Nikki

Hi! I’m Nikki, the owner and woman in charge of “That’s What She Grows” rare plant boutique located in Sarnia, Ontario. I have always had a passion for plants and animals since I was a young girl, my grandmother and I used to tend the rose bushes and snapdragons together in the backyard together every summer! Loving nature is hereditary If you ask me!

Pets and plants are my whole life – I have a home full of both! Providing them all the utmost care, respect, and quality of life possible means so much to me, it is a blessing to be able to share my passion with our readers! Getting to know each other and learning about nature with others who inspire us and lift each other up.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know a little about me, and hopefully we will chat soon!

Ciao – Nikki

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