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Pet-friendly houseplants

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Plants for your pets. Picture; www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Plants for your pets. Picture; www.thejoyofplants.co.uk

Celebrate World Animal Plant Day, October 4

It’s World Animal Plant Day on October 4 and with the current fashion for houseplants, it seems logical to pick out varieties that both owners and pets will get along with.

According to experts at The Joy Of Plants, these five pet-friendly plants are safe for dogs, cats, rabbits and birds who like a nibble on something green.

You don’t have to have pets, as they look great in any room setting and are very forgiving if you’re a forgetful gardener!

Cyperus (umbrella plant)

C. alternifolius is well known, but the cultivar Zumula is also suitable as a pet-friendly plant. It’s also known as dwarf papyrus, growing to 75cm and needs plenty of water – in fact, it is often sold as a plant suitable for the edges of indoor ponds, so overwatering won’t be a problem.

Beaucarnea recurvata (ponytail palm or elephant’s foot plant)

The ponytail palm (it’s not a palm at all) is an odd plant, with a bulbous trunk and leaves that curl backwards from the top, hence the name.

The swollen trunk stores water and it’s a slow grower but can reach 2m – give it a couple of decades!

You can sometimes find the young tuberous variety, called Nolina. The trunk and tuber can stand up to cats – to them, it’s an irresistible scratching post and they often have a go at the leaves.

Chlorophytum (spider plant)

A plant that’s back in fashion from the doldrums. C. comosum with its variegated fronds (leaves) has a few similar cultivars.

You’ll probably see the variety Variegatum most of the time. Comosum means ‘crested’ and refers to the crests which are found on the plant’s runners.

Bamboo

Not usually associated with being grown indoors, but Bambusa vulgaris, with sturdy yellow canes (technically culms), is the best candidate.

Cat grass

Hordeum (cat grass) is like a mini field of barley in a pot, container or bowl. It grows upwards in a compact way and provides house cats with folic acid.

How to look after pet-friendly houseplants

  • All of these plants like a position between light and partial shade without direct sunlight.
  • The plants need a lot of water, especially Cyperus, although don’t overdo it with Beaucarnea. The soil should not be allowed to dry out.
  • A bit of plant food safe to use on edible plants, once a month keeps the plant healthy.
  • If a cat or dog has got a little over-playful with the plant, damaged leaves can be cut off. The plant will produce new ones.
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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.

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