Ten Low Maintenance Indoor Plants That Won’t Harm Your Pets
Who can resist the lovely, bright look and feel of plants in a room? But in addition to the added vibrancy and depth that plants can give an area, there are also functional reasons to have plants:
- They convert carbon dioxide to oxygen
- They remove trace levels of toxic vapors, according to NASA
- They increase memory retention and concentration per Texas A&M
- They reduce background noise
- They contribute to creating a tranquil environment
And besides all that, they’re just plain nice to look at.
For those of us whose thumbs aren’t quite green enough to keep some of the more finicky plants like stromanthe and azaleas happy, here are some hardy, low-maintenance indoor plants that are non-toxic to cats and dogs:
Bamboo palm plants do well in either bright or indirect sunlight. To water them, wait until the soil surface feels dry then water until the soil is evenly moist. Be sure that they are draining properly and not sitting in water. Unlike most other tropical plants, they will grow in low light conditions although they will grow taller with more light. Use a time-release fertilizer during the growing season. Bamboo palms can grow up to 12 feet high by 5 feet wide, making a dramatic decorating statement.
Spider plants, often seen in hanging baskets as well as in pots, are wonderful accent plants. They do need regular watering but also need to be allowed to dry out between watering so be sure to place them in pots that drain well; the roots can rot if they sit in water. If the tips of the leaves turn brown, it could be because the plant has been sitting in water. They thrive in most light and temperature conditions but prefer bright, indirect light.
The ornamental bushy foliage makes the Rubber tree a popular choice. Be careful which type of rubber tree you get, though, because some are poisonous to cats and dogs. Rubber trees of the Peperomia obtusifolia (pepper face or American baby rubber plant) genus are non-toxic to pets. They are fairly easy to look after. Let the surface of the soil dry out between watering. The thick leaves will store water, so you might want to cut back watering in the winter. This plant does like a humid environment which is easily provided by misting the leaves or by placing the plant on a pebble tray with water at the bottom. The American baby rubber plant likes medium to bright light depending on the color of the leaf (dark green leaves prefer indirect light and lighter green and variegated leaves prefer direct sunlight) and isn’t all that picky about ambient temperature – anywhere from 60 to 80 degrees suits it.
Areca palms command attention with their feathery, arching fronds with multiple leaflets. They like bright, indirect light. Keep the soil lightly moist in the spring and summer and allow the soil to dry slightly between watering in fall and winter. They grow up to 10 inches a year so will need to be repotted from time to time. These plants can grow to be 6 to 7 feet tall and have a lifespan of up to 10 years.
Boston ferns are among those ferns that are pet-safe (not all ferns are). Often seen in hanging baskets, they lend color and interest to any room. This plant has been a popular choice for many years, at least in part because they are so easy to care for and maintain. Boston ferns do best with plenty of indirect light and in room temperatures of between 55 and 75 degrees. Boston ferns crave humidity so daily misting, using a humidifier, putting it on a water-filled pebble tray, or by placing it in a high humidity room like a bathroom will do the trick.
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Lemon button fern is another pet-friendly fern. It grows to up to 12 inches high and up to 18 inches wide, making it ideal for shelves or side tables. It is not a sun-loving plant, preferring low, filtered light (no direct afternoon sun, please). Like other ferns, it thrives best in humidity so misting or placing it in a water-filled pebble tray is a good idea.
Echeveria, or hens and chicks for those of us who eschew botanical names, is a lovely little rosette shaped succulent with interesting variations in color ranging from shades of green to pink to ruby red. It grows up to 4 inches high x 2 inches wide and looks fabulous in clusters or set with other plants. Echeveria likes full sun but not the afternoon sun. Placement near a south-facing window works well. When watering the Echeveria, pour the water until it drains from the bottom of the pot and repeat this a couple of times. Then don’t water again until the soil dries out.
Ponytail palm, sometimes called bottle palm, is a very interesting looking plant with a bulbous trunk and long, leathery curled leaves that can grow up to 30 inches long. The ponytail palm, like other succulents, does best in semi-dry conditions so let the soil dry out before watering. Bright light is its favorite but it will also tolerate low light a part of the time.
Prayer plant is named for its leaves’ behavior; they will lie flat during the day and fold into an erect position at night. The leaves have square-shaped dark green patches. The prayer plant grows up to 18 inches high by 36 inches wide. The flowers are white with purple spots and are not showy – they’re more of an understated elegance. These plants should not be placed in direct sunlight as their colors can fade and their leaves can be scorched. Keep the soil moist.
Watermelon plant is fairly small (up to about 12 inches tall) with gorgeous oval shaped green and grey striped leaves that resemble the rind of a watermelon. The leaves are attached to thin, non-woody red stems. This plant does best in bright, indirect sunlight. Too much light will fade the leaves’ bright colors. It prefers humid conditions but be careful not to let the roots sit in water as they are prone to rot in soggy soil. When the top of the soil feels dry, water the plant deeply and drain completely, then allow the soil to dry out before watering again.
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