Friday, October 14, 2011

Pets and Our Plants

Sago palm (Cycas revoluta)
A few days ago I received a call regarding a family who had  lost their puppy when it ate parts of a sago palm. My brother had seen the story on his local news.  Please see the following link: The dog in the story ate leaves and roots of the sago palm and died. Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) contain a toxin called cycasin that is deadly. These plants have become very popular in the last few years, sold as bonsai in the big box stores. They are relatively easy to grow and the foliage is very architectural.
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 very good for your health and should not be avoided because of pets. More tragedies like this can be prevented with a little knowledge.
Boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata)
African violet (Saintpaulia)
Pony tail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

Grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia)
Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura)
Rabbit's foot fern (Davallia)

Pellionia repens
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. A few poplar, easily obtained plants that are safe, include African violet (Saintpaulia), boston fern (Nephrolepsis exaltata), pony tail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), grape ivy (Cissus rhombifolia), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum), prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura), pellionia repens, and  rabbit's foot fern (Davallia). I have all these plants in my home and I also have 3 cats. The cats have occasionally eaten my plants, especially the pony tail palm and the spider plant. 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.
Rex begonia
Other safe plants include: Echeveria, areca palm, Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera), hoyas, yucca, gerber daisies, swedish ivy (Plectranthus australis), peperomia, and rex begonias. Remember to research the plant you are bringing into your home and you and your pets can be safe and happy.


  1. I've seen stories of pets being harmed by some kinds of plants, but you're perfectly right about them. I like the red prayer plant. Do you give away cuttings of it. I would like to grow but couldn't find any locally. I am a fan of african violets as for me having mine for over 7 months.

  2. The prayer plant got dried out in my greenhouse. I still have it, but it is much smaller. I will try to get a new one started for you. I'll let you know when its ready and then I can send it to you.