10 Toxic Houseplants Pet Owners Should Avoid and Pet-Friendly Swaps

Replace potentially dangerous houseplants with our non-toxic houseplant suggestions. Plus, tips to help your pets and plants peacefully coexist.

If your household boasts pets and houseplants as members, you need to know that not all houseplants are created equal: There are pet-friendly houseplants and toxic houseplants. Many popular houseplants are potentially harmful to cats and dogs if they take a nibble or, in some cases, merely touch the foliage.

Consulting ASPCA's list of toxic and non-toxic plants, we honed in on those most likely to serve as houseplants to help you keep your pets safe in a plant-filled home. Read on to see which houseplants pet owners should avoid and our suggestions for what to replace them with, as well as tips to maintain peaceful coexistence between your pets and your houseplants.

10 Houseplants Toxic to Cats and Dogs, and Pet-Friendly Plants to Replace Them With

If you're a pet owner and have any plants listed here as toxic, consider swapping them out for pet-safe options. And for those shopping for houseplants, selecting pet-safe ones is a smart precaution to take.

01 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Aloe Vera

A bright aloe vera in a white pot in front of a sunny window.

 Emilija Manevska / Getty Images

Aloe vera plants may be healing for humans, but if cats and dogs chew on the leaves, they can develop lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea, according to the ASPCA.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Haworthia

Pet-Safe Plants, Haworthia

A member of the succulent family, haworthia is a small, low-growing plant that has distinctive studded white bands on its leaves. These plants do well in bright light and moist conditions with plenty of soil drainage. Its shape and size resembles aloe, but is safe for cats and dogs.

02 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Clivia

In a Drafty Room: Clivia
Juliette Wade/Getty Images

Clivia plants feature bright tropical flowers, but the blooms as well as the rest of the plant contain lycorine, a chemical that can cause nausea and diarrhea in pets.

Pet-Safe Replacement: African Violet

Pet-Safe Plants, African Violet

Saintpaulia, more commonly known as African violet, has fuzzy green leaves and stunning year-round flowers that bloom in lavenders, blues, pinks, reds, and white. Its leaves and flowers are non-toxic to cats and dogs, making them perfect for those looking for a low-maintenance, blooming plant.

03 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Asparagus Fern

Asparagus fern


zhongguo / Getty Images 

The asparagus fern can cause allergic dermatitis (and plenty of itching) if it's touched, and its berries can cause vomiting and diarrhea if they're eaten.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Boston fern
Getty Images

Popular for their frilly green leaves, Boston ferns are a classic beauty that add charm to any room. These plants do best in a cool place with high humidity and indirect light. Among the easiest types of ferns to care for, they're also safe for pets.

04 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Monstera

A Monstera Deliciosa sits in a white pot in front of a white wall.

 Mykeyruna / Getty Images

Monstera—also called Swiss cheese plants, for obvious reasons—are popular with plant parents, but these tropical beauties aren't great for pets. They contain calcium oxalates, which can cause intense burning around the lips, tongue, and mouth, and trouble breathing.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii)

Pet-Safe Plants, Christmas Cactus

With fiery blooms in the dead of winter, Christmas cacti are a lovely addition to any home. These plants require little care and readily adapt to low-light conditions. One of several easily propagated succulents, it's non-toxic to animals, so cut and replant until there's one in every room.

05 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Corn Plant

dracaena corn plant in black pot against white background

 PhanuwatNandee/Getty Images

Also known as dracaena and dragon tree. corn plants contain saponins, which can cause vomiting, dilated pupils, hypersalivation, and anorexia in pets.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)

Staghorn Fern
Getty Images

A type of air plant, staghorn ferns grow best when mounted on a board and hung on a wall to allow for an exchange of air and moisture. Resembling the antlers of a staghorn deer, these pet-safe plants have gained popularity as living works of art.

06 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Sago Palm

Japanese sago palm in a pot

Kathyn8 | Getty Images

Sago palms are definitely among the do-not-have plants if you have pets. They contain cycasin, which can cause vomiting, liver damage or failure, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, and death.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)

Pet-Safe Plants, Parlor Palm

As its name implies, the parlor palm is the quintessential houseplant because, unlike many types of palms, it can handle low light and lower temperatures. It grows in clusters with its elegantly arching, green leaflets forming a feathery canopy. This attractive plant is non-toxic and an excellent air purifier.

07 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Peace Lily

peace lily on window sill

Getty Images

Peace lilies are one of the most infamous plants for pet owners. Like many on this list, it contains calcium oxalates, which can cause difficulty swallowing, as well as burning and irritation in the mouth and tongue.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus)

Pet-Safe Plants, Hibiscus

Adding tropical flair to your home is a breeze with the simple addition of a hibiscus plant, which thrives in direct light and temperatures between 55 and 70 degrees F. Though tricky to care for when grown outside temperate climates, once you get the hang of it, you'll be rewarded with spectacularly brilliant, pet-friendly blooms.

08 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Pothos

Devils ivy golden pothos indoor plant vine in a hanging pot near doorway
Brendan Maher / Getty Images

The popular pothos plant is a great easy-care option for plant parents, but you'll want to keep your pets—especially cats—clear of it. It's poisonous due to calcium oxalate crystals, which can irritate the mouth and cause drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Low-Light Plant, Spider Plant
Lucian Alexe on Unsplash

With gracefully trailing grass-like leaves, spider plants are markedly hardy plants that can grow in a wide range of conditions. This plant is perfect for hanging, as it sprouts smaller spiderettes—which drape down from the mother plant as if on a web—that are safe for a curious cat or dog.

09 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Jade Plant

jade plant

Jessica Lia / Getty Images

This popular succulent can cause vomiting and tremors in pets, and drunkenness in cats in particular.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)

Pet-Safe Plants, Venus Fly Trap

Well-known for its carnivorous nature, the Venus fly trap is a strangely beautiful plant lined with eyelash-like teeth that lace together when triggered by prey. Native to swamplands of the Carolinas, the Venus fly trap does well in bright light and humid conditions. While lethal to gnats and small insects, this captivating plant is completely safe for pets.

10 of 10

Plant to Avoid: Amaryllis

photo of apple blossom amaryllis
Photo © Kerry Michaels

These holiday favorites contain lycorine and other harmful chemicals, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors in pets.

Pet-Safe Replacement: Wax Plant (Hoya carnosa)

Pet-Safe Plants, Wax Plant

Grown for their distinctive glossy green leaves and wonderfully fragrant flowers, wax plants can tolerate very dry conditions, making them perfect for growing indoors. Their star-shaped flowers grow in waxy-looking clusters ranging from pink to white. With blooms that produce sweet-smelling nectar, it's a good thing these plants are non-toxic.

How to Keep Pets and Plants Safe

Convincing your pets and houseplants to live in harmony can be a challenge. As well-behaved as Fluffy may be, turn your head and you're likely to find her taking a bite or scratching the soil of your beloved houseplant.

Even "safe" plants can make your pets sick if they eat too much of them. Of course, that's not too great for the plant, either. To help your plants and pets successfully cohabitate, try these tips:

  • Keep unsafe plants in off-limits spaces. If you're keeping toxic plants, put them in areas closed off from your pets or make them unreachable, such as on high shelves on a bookshelf, or in a bathroom or spare bedroom that's kept shut.
  • Ensure pets are safe when they're unsupervised. Crating or blocking your pets from areas with plants can help ensure they can't eat them when you're not around.
  • Cover the soil. If your pets are diggers, keep them from tearing up the soil by covering the soil with shells, pebbles, tin foil, or other materials that won't feel good under their paws.
  • Offer alternatives to dig or chew. Make plants less enticing by offering pets alternative spots where they can scratch or chew, like chew toys, scratching posts, or even a "digging spot" in the garden.
  • Use spray deterrents. Applying a no-chew spray—like bitter apple or diluted lemon juice—helps to deter pets from chomping on delicate leaves.
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