My brother saw a story on his local news and called me as it was regarding a pet that had passed away from eating parts of a sago palm (Cycas revoluta). The dog in the story ate leaves and roots of the plant which had been on the patio and sadly, passed away. Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) contain a toxin called cycasin that is deadly to pets. These plants have become very popular in the last few years, often sold as bonsai. They’re relatively easy to grow and the foliage is very architectural, but not a plant to have near pets.
Knowledge is key
I obviously am a big fan of houseplants and hope that incidents such as this do not prevent pet owners from having plants in their homes. Plants are good for your health and happiness and should not be avoided because of pets. More tragedies like this can be prevented with a bit of knowledge.
Research the plant
If you find a plant you are interested in, research it to make sure it is non-toxic to your pet. There are many plants that aren’t poisonous and can safely coexist with your pets. If you’re unsure about plants I haven’t mentioned here, check out the ASPCA site. They have lists of toxic and non-toxic plants.
A few popular, easily obtained plants that are safe, include calathea
African violet (Saintpaulia)
Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata ‘Tiger’)
Ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia ‘Ellen Danica’)
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura ‘Lemon Lime’)
and rabbit’s foot fern (Davallia)
I have all these plants in my home and I also have in the past had 3 cats at one time. Now I just have mischievous Henry the kitty. The cats have occasionally nibbled on my plants, especially the ponytail palm and the spider plant as they seem to love plants that resemble grass. They then proceed to throw up but have never had any other adverse effects from eating them. I do try to keep them away from the plants, but in my house, they are surrounded. Everywhere they turn, there is a plant. I think they are bored by them because there are so many, and so they mostly leave my plants alone. I have no experience with puppies but have heard they are a little more rambunctious and eat everything.
Other safe plants include Echeveria,
areca palm, holiday cacti (Schlumbergera)
yucca, Gerber daisies, Swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis), and peperomia.
My kitty finds my air plants and bats them around like mice. Though they aren’t poisonous to him, they usually don’t survive his playfulness…..
As you can see there are many plants to choose from that are safe for your pets. The key is to know the plant you are bringing into your home and research it to make sure it is safe. If you aren’t sure what plant you have, ask someone at your local garden center or you can email me and hopefully, I can help.
Have a great week, plant friends!