If you have cats then you are going to want to makes sure that your home only contains cat safe plants. Especially if they are the type of cat that likes to eat plants. My two sphynx cats, Miss Kitty and Lion-o are big on eating anything green. It’s just not worth risking having an unsafe plant in your home that could find its way into a little kitty belly. I was crushed to learn that monstera is not kitty-safe, I want one so bad but it’s not worth the risk. Sniff. If you want to learn more about sphynx cats you can check out my post on 13 things you need to know about sphynx cats.
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Another great option is to make a DIY indoor cat garden which as an added bonus is super easy to do. I made mine and keep it on the coffee table in the living room. Miss Kitty and Lion-o (especially Lion-o) just love it.
The awesome thing about these cat safe plants (and plants in general) is that they help to clean the air in your house. Plus, at least for me, there is something calming and happy about being surrounded by a house full of plants. I just love seeing all the greenery, especially in the midst of winter!
Now just in case, all you want is a list so you can do your own research let me help you out and summarize this post. So here is the list
- Crispy wave fern (Japanese Asplenium Nidus Fern)
- Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
- Majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis)
- Spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum)
- Air plants (Tillandsia)
- Parlour palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
- Dwarf date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
- Wax plant (Hoya carnosa)
- American rubber plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)
If however, you are looking for more information just keep reading and I will walk you through my list of 10 cat safe plants and information on how to care for them.
#1 – Crispy Wave
One of my favourite cat safe plants is the crispy wave (Japanese Asplenium Nidus Fern). I love the way these little plants look and as an added bonus they are fantastic at helping to clean the air. They really are such pretty plants! Their wide and wavy leaves while pretty are also key to their air cleaning abilities. In their natural habitat, they can be found in wooded areas that don’t have a lot of direct sunlight. So these guys will not appreciate those south-facing windows that most plants like. Too much direct sunlight will result in burnt leaves which is a kind of crispy that we don’t want.
They can benefit from a dose of 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength during the growing season, skip it during the winter. Stay away from non-liquid fertilizers as they can cause burning on the leaves. The roots of the Crispy wave plants red some love. They won’t appreciate typical soil as their delicate roots need lots of air circulation. You will be best served to give them a very porous soil to encourage their roots to grow strong. Given the right soil their roots will grow to fill the pot provided.
To thrive they will also require a moist and humid environment, much like they would have experienced in the forest. This isn’t a huge issue in the summer, but in the winter they will require daily misting to ensure they don’t become dried out and die.
#2 – Boston Fern
Boston fern, Nephrolepis exaltata, is a classic when it comes to houseplants. It hails from the tropics and boasts beautiful long fronds that can reach 98 inches long! This fern is up there with the most popular houseplants. While not hard to take care of it does definitely have some very specific requirements.
Topmost of its demands are a cool temperature, indirect light, and high humidity. The humidity requirements are most important during the winter months when the central heating is turned on. This can be remedied with a humidifier nearby, misting every other day or a humidity tray. If you notice the fronds starting to turn yellow then the humidity is not high enough. They like a temperature between 16-24C (60-75F)
The main thing to be careful of is dry soil, as this will kill your Boston fern quicker than anything 8except leaving it outside in winter, which obviously you won’t). For this houseplant to thrive the soil must be kept damp at all times. You will need to make sure to check the soil daily and if there is any dry feeling get it some water ASAP! On top of the daily watering, you will also want to soak your fern about once a month. Just make sure to let if fully drain after.
In the soil department, the Boston fern needs a soil that has high moisture retention. This means that you will need a potting mix that is very high in peat moss. In the spring it is a good idea to repot your fern and add in some new compost (best if you make your own). This doesn’t mean that you need to increase the pot size though. It is time to move your plant baby to a new pot when it is getting overcrowded or the leaves start to wilt. If you want to propagate your Boston fern, then repotting time is a perfect time. All you need to do is divide the plant and make sure that each piece has the right soil, humidity, and warmth.
#3 – Majesty Palm
Another tropical beauty is the Majesty palm (Ravenea rivularis). It is a common houseplant and can be readily found at your local grocery store, Home Depot or Ikea. It is quite easy to grow which makes it very popular. In addition to making it into the cat safe plants list, the majesty palm is also great at helping to clean the air in your house. They can help to remove such harmful nasties as formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide.
These palms are definite sun babies and will be happiest in front of a sunny window where it can get 6-8 hours of bright light per day.
You are not going to want to let this plant dry out. Though endangered in the wild they can naturally be found right next to rivers and streams. So make sure to water them deeply and often, but make sure the pot they are in allows for proper drainage. If the tips of the leaves are turning brown then it is not getting enough water. If the leaves are turning yellow then it is getting too much.
This houseplant also likes a humid environment and will do best in a room with a humidifier. If you don:t have one then a humidity tray can be a great help. A little fertilizer will also go a long way to ensuring your plant is healthy. So be sure to give it some fertilizer every 2-3 months during the spring and summer.
Majesty palms do not like to have their roots crowded, so be sure to repot them every year or so. Just make sure to move them to some new digs if you see the roots popping up through the soil. The new pot should be 2-3 inches larger in diameter than the current pot. I love these cat safe plants as they are one that adds height from a greenery perspective.
#4 – Spider plants
Spider plants, Chlorophytum comosum, were always a staple in my home growing up. My mum adores them and still has them covering her condo to this day. So when I set out on my quest to cover my home in cat-safe plants, she was all too happy to gift me a bunch of the babies off her many plants. Spider plants are notoriously easy to propagate, all you need to do is pluck off one of the babies (or spiderettes as they are known) and pop them in soil.
It is a species native to southern Africa and it is luckily very easy to grow (and propagate) as a houseplant. It has lovely little flowers that form on long thin “branches” (they are actually called inflorescences) but they tend to be a bit sparse. They are also credited with being quite good at removing nasty things from the air, such as formaldehyde and xylene. It was mentioned in the NASA Clean Air Study which ain’t half bad.
They are extremely resilient plants that make them perfect for the newbie plant parent. They don’t require much more than some soil that allows for proper drainage and bright but indirect sunlight. They will appreciate a good watering, just don’t let the soil become soggy, they will not appreciate that. They also prefer somewhat cooler temperatures 13-18C (55-65F).
#5 – Air plants
There is something captivating and mystical about these little plants that can survive (and thrive) without soil. Known as Tillandsia, these plants derive most of their nutrients from the air around them. They are epiphytes, a technical term meaning that they grow on other plants. They are native to the Southern United States, Mexico and Central and Southern America. Lucky for us, they are low maintenance and be put just about anywhere, just make sure that you don’t forget about them!
All these little plants really need is light and water, with the needs of both being intertwined. They do best in bright but indirect sunlight, however, they fair quite well with just artificial light. Just make sure that they have good air circulation. When it is hot and dry they will require more misting and soaking. Conversely, when it is cold and dark they will need less. When you first bring your air plant home make sure to give it a good soak by submerging it in water for 15-30 minutes. You will also want to do this one a week moving forwards. Once it is done soaking, give it a gentle shake to get off any excess water and then set it upside down to dry.
Once it is dry to the touch you can flip it back over and return it to wherever it lives in your home. It is very important that you make sure it is completely dry before putting it back as failure to do this could lead to mold. In between weekly soakings, you will want to mist your Tillandsia every other day to keep it nice and healthy. When happy and well cared for, air plants can produce some of the most beautiful pink and purple flowers. They also look adorable in the little glass terrarium balls.
#6 – Parlour palm
The Parlour palm or Neanthe bella palm, known scientifically as Chamaedorea elegans, is native to Central America (Southern Mexico and Guatemala). In its natural habitat, it can grow to be 6-10 feet tall, but as a houseplant, it tends to stay between 2-6 feet. It is extremely popular as a houseplant (one of the most popular actually especially among the cat safe plants) and has been so since Victorian times! It scores points for surviving in low light, low humidity, being able to handle lower temperatures and being great at helping to clean the air.
It likes both direct and indirect light and can even produce yellow flowers in the spring, but it rarely if ever blooms as a houseplant. In an outdoor setting, they like sand, loam, and clay with a pH between 5.1 and 7.5. Indoors they will do well in a high-quality potting mix, just make sure to give them at least a 3-gallon pot. They are known to be sensitive to overwatering and will not tolerate becoming waterlogged. So this is one case where you are going to want to lean towards too dry rather than too wet. A good rule of thumb is to water them only when the top 1′ of soil is dry. They will let you know if you are underwatering them as the leaves will start to turn yellow.
They are light feeders and will only require added fertilizer during the growing season (but only once or twice) and skip it completely during the winter. When it comes to repotting, these guys are of the set it and forget it variety, They have weak root systems which means that they do not want to be messed with very much. Added with the fact that they grow very slowly, there shouldn’t even really be a need to transplant them very often (if at all). Just find them a nice place with a northern exposure, a temperature between 13-27C (56-80F) and leave them to their own devices.
#7 – Bromeliad
Bromeliads are another favourite of mine and for me, they have a mix of exotic and ancient appeal. They provide a lovely pop of colour when they are in bloom and there are a variety of different flowers you can amass. Much like air plants, the bromeliads are epiphytic and can be found growing on trees. They are a diverse group of plants with over 2800 different species of bromeliad in the wild.
As a houseplant, they need medium to bright light and only need shallow pots to grow in. They will do best if placed in orchid mix, which you should be able to find at your local nursery or online. During the growing season, you can give them some half-strength fertilizer every month to help keep them strong.
It is important to note so that you don’t think yourself a bad plant parent, that bromeliads are not long-lived. They tend to start dying within a year or two. This dying off process starts to occur after flowering. So in reality that bromeliad you bought at the grocery store or nursery because of the beautiful flower is on its way out the door! But don’t lose hope! When well cared for they will produce pups that will grow from the base of the mother plant. Once they are big enough you can carefully cut them away from the parent plant and put them in their own pot with some well-draining medium or sphagnum moss mix.
One thing that does require particular attention is watering. While bromeliads have adapted to withstand drought, they do not withstand overwatering (which will lead to root rot). To water them properly you can fill their tank, this is the cup that is formed where the leaves meet together. Just make sure that water does sit there too long and become stagnant. You should also avoid using a metal watering can when watering them as they are particularly sensitive to metal.
Bromeliads love humidity if they had their way it would be 60% humidity all the time. This can be hard to achieve indoors especially in the winter when the furnace is running. So in order to try and keep your plant happy, there are a few things you can do. One option is to set up a humidifier near your plant. Even better make it a plant party and cluster any other humidity loving plants together near the humidifier. Another bonus of having the plants close together is that they can benefit from each other transpiration. What is this? Well, it is the process by which plants convert water into vapour and release it back into the atmosphere. You can also mist the plants regularly, which most plants will appreciate. And finally, you can create a humidity tray.
#8 – Dwarf Date Palm
Known to the more scientific types as Phoenix roebelenii this plant looks like a smaller version of something right out of the Jurassic period. They are a low maintenance houseplant that has a penchant for bright but indirect light. If you have an eastern facing window then this would be perfect so that they can soak up the morning sun. Temperature-wise they do best between 21-27C (70-80F).
They will do best when their soil is moist, fertile and well-draining, so be sure not to overwater them. Water your dwarf date palm deeply, so that the water drips out the bottom of the pot. But be sure not to let it sit in water as this can lead to root rot and that’s not good for any plant. They can benefit from a 12-12-12 slow-release granulated fertilizer in the growing season.
They should only need to be repotted every 2-3 years (in late spring or early summer), and not until the roots have filled up the current pot. When repotting, be sure to choose a pot that is at least 23 inches larger in diameter than the current pot. Just make sure to use equal parts of good quality, well-draining potting soil, and compost. I always make my own compost and you can too just check out my post on How to compost like a pro.
#9 – Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa)
If you want to cover your house in plants as I do, then you should definitely consider adding some wax plants to your collection. They are cat safe plants that are known for living forever, growing huge and as an added benefit they can produce pretty little fragrant flowers. They are native to India and East Asia and as a houseplant, they are incredibly easy to care for, so yay! There are many different Hoya cultivars, my two favourites are Hoya carnosa and Hoya carnosa variegata tricolor.
They tend to like medium to bright indirect sunlight year-round. They are not sun bunnies and will burn if placed in direct sun. They can tolerate some shade but don’t expect them to bloom in such conditions. If you want to give them the royal treatment then set them up about 8 inches below a grow light that is set to be on for about 14 hours a day.
They only need to be repotted every 2-3 years or when the plant starts to outgrow its current pot. Curiously, the wax plant tends to flower when it becomes somewhat rootbound, so you may not wish to rush the repotting. You shouldn:t repot a wax plant when it is in bloom as this will cause it to drop the current flowers. When you do move it to a larger pot, make sure that the new pot is about 2-3 inches larger in diameter than the current pot. From a soil perspective, they will prefer 2 parts sphagnum/peat potting mix to 1 part perlite.
The main issues with hoyas spring up when the plants are overwatered. So this is another plant that you are better to underwater rather than over water. You can manage this by watering well from spring to fall and letting the soil dry out a bit in between watering. It is best to use room temperature water rather than cold water which can give them a shock. Wax plants also like humidity (around 50%) so if you also have bromeliads they can definitely be BFFs. Temperature-wise they do best between 18-24C (65-75F).
#10 – American Rubber Plant
The American rubber plants are native to the Tropical Americas and the Caribbean and go by the scientific name of Peperomia obtusifolia. It is a popular houseplant, sometimes called a baby rubber plant. It is easy to propagate, so you can share with your friends, all you need do is take a leaf-cuttings.
This plant will do best if you give it plenty of medium to bright indirect light. That said it can survive in low indirect light, but that’s not what we are aiming for, right? One thing it will not do well in is direct sunlight. It is best to allow the soil to dry out between watering. Give it water every 1-2 weeks.
For a complete list, you can check out the ASPCA List of Toxic and Non-Toxic plants for cats, just to be on the safe side. So what is your favourite houseplant? Are all the plants in your home cat safe plants?