15 Houseplants That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

A cat standing in a spider plant

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Pets and houseplants bring joy to households around the world. Plants do more than improve a home's aesthetics – foliage houseplants have been shown to absorb formaldehyde from indoor air environments and improve air quality overall. Studies have also shown the benefits of pet ownership: dog owners who felt close to their canine companions reported feeling more social support. 

Unfortunately, some plants and pets don't mix, and certain types of houseplants are toxic to cats and dogs. Here are 15 beautiful, nontoxic, and easy-to-maintain houseplants that you can enjoy without worrying about your pet's health.

For more information, or to look up a specific plant not found here, consult the ASPCA's searchable database of plants that are safe for pets.

1
of 15

African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)

close up of African violet

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Native to Tanzania, African violets are almost exclusively grown indoors and known for their vibrant year-round purple blooms, though there are also varieties with pink, red, blue, and white flowers. African violets are nontoxic to dogs, cats, and horses, and also feature delicate, fuzzy, leaves. Because root rot is a common problem, selecting a well-draining pot is essential for these plants.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright indirect sunlight is ideal, but moderate light is adequate. Thrives indoors.
  • Water: Soil should be moist but never soggy. Water when the soil feels dry on top but moist underneath.
  • Soil: Well draining and slightly acidic. Add sand or other porous materials to typical houseplant potting soils.
2
of 15

Aluminum Plant (Pilea cadieri)

Pilea cadierei, aluminium plant or watermelon pilea

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A tropical perennial native to Vietnam, aluminum plants (also known as watermelon plants) have distinctive silvery stripes on their broad green leaves and also produce small white flowers fairly sporadically when kept indoors. Most gardeners remove the blooms to encourage the plant's foliage to further develop. Aluminum plants love humidity, which makes them ideal for terrariums, but they can also thrive in pots and hanging planters. You can mist the plant occasionally in order to artificially recreate its native humid environment.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Prefers bright, filtered light.
  • Water: Keep the soil lightly moist, but not overly damp, to avoid root rot.
  • Soil: Rough, sandy, well-draining mixture.
3
of 15

Dwarf Banana Plant (Musa tropicana)

Dwarf banana plant in window

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Native to southeast Asia, dwarf banana plants can add dramatic foliage to any home, with their large, broad leaves, and eventual height of around six feet. The potential for fruit production is possible with this variety, but unlikely when kept indoors year-round. These tropical plants need ample water and root space, and cannot be in a cold environment.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Likes ample, bright light. Can tolerate low light.
  • Water: Water thoroughly and often in summer, more moderately in cold months.
  • Soil: Rich, well-draining soil.
4
of 15

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exalta bostoniensis)

Boston fern in hanging planter

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An herbaceous tropical fern, these plants grow to an average size of around 3 feet indoors. To keep Boston ferns growing evenly all-round, it's best to rotate them periodically and prune any dead fronds. These ferns are often hung in suspended planters, but they can also thrive in traditional pots. Yellowing leaves could mean the plant needs more humidity and would benefit from an occasional misting.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, indirect light.
  • Water: Frequent, thorough watering. Keep soil moist.
  • Soil: Loamy, rich, organic mixture.
5
of 15

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

woman pruning a parlor palm

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Native to Central America, parlor palms are popular indoor plants that do well in foyers, with their tolerance for shade. A great plant for beginners, these palms also require infrequent watering. Parlor palms are also sometimes called bamboo palms because of their bamboo-like stems, and they produce inedible fruits (though fruiting is rare indoors).

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Ideally moderate-bright indirect light, can tolerate low light. Avoid direct sun.
  • Water: Important not to over-water. Wait 1-2 weeks depending on where the plant is located.
  • Soil: Peat-based potting mix. Does not tolerate salt.
6
of 15

Hens and Chicks (Echeveria elegans)

Echeveria elegans, hens and chicks succulent

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Hens and chicks are popular perennial succulents that do well in indoor container gardens as well as in rock gardens. A low maintenance plant with relatively shallow root systems, they don't need a planter with much depth, but it does need some width to allow new growth to spread as the "hen" (parent plant) forms new "chicks" (smaller new rosettes that form).

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Needs several hours of bright light each day. Works well in windows.
  • Water: Avoid overwatering. These plants are drought tolerant.
  • Soil: Well-draining, coarse. Cactus or succulent potting blends should work well.
7
of 15

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

lemon balm, Melissa officinalis

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A hardy perennial shrub, lemon balm is known for its fragrant odor and has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb, with recent research indicating its effectiveness as a mild sleep aid. Lemon balm will need a sunny spot indoors and to be kept away from cold, drafty areas. Any flowers that form should be picked immediately if you plan to harvest leaves, as their flavor begins to change and become bitter as the plant goes to seed.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Needs ample sunlight. 5-6 hours daily.
  • Water: Water when soil is dry to the touch, more tolerant to under than over-watering.
  • Soil: Well-draining and slightly sandy.
8
of 15

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)

Christmas cactus plant in bloom

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Christmas cacti are known for their flattened stems and vibrant red blooms that typically flower around Christmastime. An easy to care for houseplant, these cacti aren't like the desert varieties; instead, they are native to the Brazilian rainforest and require more water. A Christmas cactus can live for 20-30 years when properly cared for and makes a great holiday gift.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Adaptable but prefers diffused light mimicking rainforest conditions.
  • Water: Water thoroughly and allow soil to dry between waterings.
  • Soil: Lightweight. Well-draining.
9
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Friendship Plant (Pilea involucrata)

Friendship plant, Pilea involucrata, with blooms

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From the same genus as the aluminum plant, friendship plants are also known as moon valley plants because the deep grooves on the surface of their leaves are said to resemble the surface of the moon. These quilted grooves are a bronze/purple color, offsetting a vibrant green. Small blooms may form on the plant, which should be removed to keep the plant compact.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Moderate to bright light. Direct sun may scorch leaves.
  • Water: Water thoroughly and allow soil to dry between waterings.
  • Soil: Well-draining, peat moss or African violet mix.
10
of 15

Hawthoria (Hawthoria species)

Hawthoria cooperi

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Hawthoria is a genus of more than 80 species of succulent that grow easily indoors in containers of basically any shape or size. Known for their upright leaves that end in sharp points, Hawthoria typically feature stripes or dots that form attractive patterns along with basal rosettes, from which leaves grow in a spiral pattern, although this can vary between species.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Water: Do not overwater; allow soil to drain.
  • Soil: Well-draining and porous. With pots that don't drain, add rocks to bottom.
11
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Metallic Peperomia (Peperomia caperata)

Peperomia caperata, metallic peperomia

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Peperomia are known for their beautiful foliage and grow easily indoors. Native to Brazil, Peperomia caperata sprout interesting flowers, which shoot above the leaves and resemble long, white beans. This distinctive plant comes in many varieties, most commonly the Emerald Ripple, pictured above with its dark green/purple, deeply veined leaves.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Water: Water thoroughly when top 1-2" of soil is dry. Do not overwater.
  • Soil: Well-draining mix of peat moss and perlite or sand.
12
of 15

Fairy Elephant's Feet (Frithia pulchra)

Frithia Pulchra or Purple Baby Tears

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Also known as purple baby tears, Frithia pulchra is native to South Africa, where it thrives in rocky grasslands. A hearty perennial, this plant can adapt to many growing conditions and features club-shaped, erect leaves, and single, daisy-like flowers that bloom in the window and are often pink or purple.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, full sun.
  • Water: Routine thorough watering in summer; cut back in winter.
  • Soil: Open, well-draining. Fill bottom half of pots with loose gravel and rock.
13
of 15

Moon Orchid (Phalaenopsis Orchid)

moon orchids in planters

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Also known as moth orchids, these flowering plants prefer warm, humid, conditions and are commonly grown indoors. Native to tropical and subtropical Asia, where they grow on trees, these orchids produce showy purple, green, white, or pink flowers, depending on the specific variety.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Requires indirect light and deep shade.
  • Water: Always water in the morning. Let soil thoroughly dry between watering.
  • Soil: Use bark and/or moss.
14
of 15

Thimble Cactus (Mammillaria gracilis fragilis)

Thimble cacti in a pot

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These attractive succulents are native to Central America, where they typically receive plenty of bright sun and not much water, meaning that they're easy to care for as long as you have a bright spot in your home. Thimble cacti will grow well in windows, producing light yellow flowers in winter and summer.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Needs bright sunlight at least 6 hours a day.
  • Water: Water infrequently and don't overwater.
  • Soil: Well draining, with rocks and/or pumice.
15
of 15

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Chlorophytum comosum, ribbon plant, in a pot

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Also known as a ribbon plant, the spider plant is an herbaceous perennial native to southern Africa. These plants can be grown in hanging containers or in pots, and produce white, star-like flowers. Their green leaves have attractive light-colored vertical stripes that make it a distinctive and popular houseplant.

Plant Care Tips

  • Light: Bright, indirect light.
  • Water: Keep soil moist but not damp.
  • Soil: Soil-based potting mix
View Article Sources
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  2. Bryan, Jennifer L., et al. "Canine comfort: Pet affinity buffers the negative impact of ambivalence over emotional expression on perceived social support." Personality and individual differences 68, 2014, pp: 23-27, doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.04.003

  3. Cerny, A., and K. Schmid. "Tolerability and efficacy of valerian/lemon balm in healthy volunteers (a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre study).Fitoterapia 70.3, 1999, pp:221-228, doi:10.1016/S0367-326X(99)00018-0