20 Pet friendly alternatives to popular houseplants

Like with most trends, we all desire that new hip and Instagram-popular houseplant for our indoor jungle. Unfortunately not all fall under the pet-friendly category which can sadden some of us pet-conscious apartment gardeners. So, since the plant kingdom is vast and glorious, I thought it would be a fun idea to start a series dedicated to pet-friendly alternatives to popular houseplants.

 

Monstera deliciosa

Starting off with the ever so popular Monstera deliciosa and, of course, the many other variegated varieties such as the Thai constellation and the variegated monstera borsigiana. The monstera contains toxic principles such as insoluble calcium oxalates which, if ingested, can cause intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.

Pet-friendly alternatives to the monstera include :

  • Japanese Aralia (Fatsia Japonica) It also comes in many variegated forms.
  • Calathea orbifolia

 
 

Philodendron

Philodendrons have reached an absolute peak in popularity these days, especially the philodendron pink princess. Everyone and their grandma are spending big bucks for this plant, and while I understand the appeal and hype of this beauty the prices are pretty ridiculous. Also, they contain the same toxic principle as the monstera so here are my pet-friendly options:

  • Calathea magic star
  • Stromanthe sanguinea triostar
  • Ctenanthe Golden Mosaic

 
 

Ficus Elastica

The humble ficus elastica has been part of many homes for generations, and with the introduction of new forms on the market, it quickly reached new popularity. The reason why the ficus elastica is not pet-friendly is that their sap contains a proteolytic enzyme (ficin), and psoralen (ficusin) that can lead to gastrointestinal and dermal irritation if ingested. Non-toxic and space friendly options:

  • Peperomia Obtusifolia Variegated
  • Peperomia polybotrya (comes in a variagated form as well)
  • Peperomia Jelly

 
 

Tradescantia Zebrina (Zebrina pendula)

Native to Mexico, Central America, and some parts of Asia, Africa, Australia, and South America, this plant has earned its place on many people’s wish list thanks to its ease of care and stunning foliage. In relationship with our pets, it has an allergen causing an inflammatory reaction predominantly affecting the skin that can become itchy and irritated.

  • Aeschynanthus lobbianus variegated (Lipstick Plant)
  • Vanilla planifolia variegata
  • Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
  • Fittonia (entire family)

 
 

String of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)

The string of pearls plant is quite the unique looking succulent hence it`s popularity among houseplant enthusiasts. If consumed clinical signs include lifelessness, vomiting, and diarrhea. Pet-friendly alternatives:

  • Sedum rubrotinctum
  • Sedum rubrotinctum variegated
  • Sedum morganianum (Horse’s Tail, Donkey’s Tail, Lamb’s Tail)

 
 

Oxalis

This dancing lady has gathered quite the following thanks to its habit of closing during nighttime. Unfortunately, the Shamrock plant contains soluble calcium oxalates which if ingested can result in a sudden drop in calcium. Rarely, acute renal failure can be seen from ingestion of plants or fruit containing these soluble oxalate crystals.

Clinical signs of this type of poisoning include drooling, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weakness, tremors, bloody urine, and changes in thirst and urination. Pet-friendly options:

  • Mimosa pudica
  • Albizia julibrissin summer chocolate

 
 

PEACE LILY (Spathiphyllum)

Native to the tropical regions of the Americas and Asia, the Peace Lily, has come back into fashion numerous times since its first introduction into Europe in the 19th century. Despite the common name of Peace Lily, the Spathiphyllum genus is part of the Araceae (Arum) family, not Liliaceae. With its beautiful flower-like leaves (spathes) and dark green foliage that has captivated many, it’s no surprise that it is always in fashion. The main toxic principle in Spathiphyllum, just like others on this list is insoluble calcium oxalates which if ingested can cause mild, or severe depending on how much of the plant is consumed, a burning sensation in the mouth, tongue, and lips. Pet-friendly options:

  • Aspidistra elatior
  • Aspidistra elatior milky way 
  • Aspidistra elatior variegata

 
 

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