Non-toxic houseplants safe for pets and kids

July 24, 2021

a golden retriever dog holding a pink flower in their mouth

Have you noticed that houseplant enthusiasts are often natural nurturers in other areas of their lives too? (BTW, I do find that well-nurtured plants — that is those that are tended with kind, loving words in addition to sunlight and water — fair far better than those given all the right care but little verbal encouragement!) It makes sense, then, that many people who successfully tend houseplants are also drawn to sharing their homes with pets or young children. Something not everyone realizes, though, is that not all houseplants are safe for kids and pets! Many plants can be toxic if eaten or cause irritation when touched. Not ideal in a home with curious kiddos or kitties!

I don’t have any pets or young children living with me these days, but I do set my ZZ plant (one of my favorites, but it’s toxic and can cause skin and eye irritation with direct contact!) up on a high shelf when little grandkids visit!

If you have youngsters or furbabies at home, though, you may want to choose non-toxic houseplants that are safe for pets and children — at least for places within easy reach. (If you have a cat or climbing toddler, that may mean your whole home!) Of course you’ll want to do your best to keep your pets and children from eating any of your plants. The plants will appreciate it, for one thing. Also, even a non-toxic houseplant can potentially cause an upset stomach or other unpleasant reaction after eating too much of it! Here are a handful of my favorite non-toxic plants safe for pets and kids alike.

Non-toxic houseplants safe for pets and kids

pet safe calathea houseplant
  • Stromanthe Triostar. This plant sports lovely green and white leaves with bright pink undersides. I love how vibrant it is!
  • Calatheas. A member of the prayer plant family, Calathea comes in many beautiful varieties that are pet and child safe. I was just admiring an especially lovely Calathea at my local plant shop the other day, in fact!
  • African violets. A lot of plants don’t bloom indoors, so their petite flowers makes African violet houseplants quite special. I have three blooming on my desk as I write this!
  • Polka dot plant. I love looking at polka dot plants. But, if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m not great at growing them. In fact my post about polka dot plants is on my schedule to be updated. My then-lovely polka dot plant went downhill shortly after I wrote the post!
  • Nerve plant. An excellent alternative to Polka dot plants, nerve plants have similar leaf shapes and patterns (though nerve plants are more striped that spotted) and, in my experience, are far easier to grow. (Don’t worry if they “faint” after missing a watering. They’re very dramatic personalities, but they recover quickly.)
  • Christmas Cactus. Easter and Thanksgiving cacti are also non-toxic. (Regular cacti can cause tummy troubles, and the needles can cause allergic reactions when touched.)
  • Some succulents. Many, but not all, succulents are child and pet-friendly. This post from the ASPCA lists some non-toxic succulent options (plus some toxic varieties to keep away from young children and animals).
  • Friendship plant. If your succulents need some company in their terrarium, try a friendship plant (pilea)! The name comes from how easy this plant is to propagate (and gift to friends). I just love that!
  • Tillandsias. Tilly plants (you may know them as air plants!) grow without soil. They come in many different styles and sizes, so you’re sure to find one that fits your style and space!
Tillandsia Capitata air plant against a white background

Remember to be mindful about the toxicity of any fertilizers, pesticides, planting materials, or other items your plants may need, too! Some of these may be harmful to pets and kids.

Do you have children or furbabies who like to nibble on leaves? What tips have you discovered for keeping them (and your houseplants) safe? The list above is just a sampling of the many houseplants that are safe for kids and pets. What are your favorite non-toxic houseplants? Please share in the comments below!

Take good care,

Headshot photo of Karen Mary with her signature in blue ink to the right

P.S. You can access all of the C2K weekly letters in the Newsletter section of the blog! Maybe there’s a topic you want to revisit or a link you want to find. Or maybe you just recently joined us and would like to catch up and/or sign up!

For the latest posts, be sure to stop by the blog every Tuesday — next week we’ll be learning how to clean and care for bedsheets! In the meantime, here are some posts you might want to visit this week:

Alocasia Plant Care (new post!)

Area rugs — How to take care of rugs so they look good and last

How to store leftover paint

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