Houseplants for the Southwest & Your Pets

In honor of National Indoor Plants Week here is a post about pet-safe houseplants for the Southwest.

Pets and Houseplants

I used to think I had pet safe houseplants, because one bite of a really bitter plant is usually enough to deter most pets. Then I got a Siamese cat who would simply eat them anyway – hacking and spitting the whole while.  I believe Kinja (#kinjakat) would simply get bored, or he was trying to get my attention. Or both of course. 

Kinja is grumpy because I took away his toy.

Hanging houseplants may be the solution for your home (as it is for mine).  Then you have to get a nice watering can to deal with them, but the things we do for our pets….

Which Plants are Safe AND Will Grow Here?

Please see my post about growing houseplants in the Southwest – here.  I also offer an online class on the topic, Houseplants for the Southwest which includes a three part video, a care sheet, and an extensive plant list.  

Air plants are said to be safe for pets. Dogs might really want that stick though. has a list of dog and cat safe plants.  You have to use their search bar on the home page.

From their list I have compiled a list of houseplants that will do fine in the low humidity of the Southwest.  Note this list is for dogs and cats only. Specialty pets like iguana, birds, and gerbils for example are not specifically covered in this information.

“Lucky bamboo” is not safe for pets.

air plant (Tillandsia, a type of bromeliad)
areca palm (Areca species)
bamboo (true bamboo Bambusa, NOT “lucky bamboo” – a species of Dracena)
bromeliads – a family with over 3000 species and countless cultivars, includes air plants and pineapples.
echeveria, hen and chicks, (Echeveria species)
holiday cactus (Zygocactus species)
orchids (in general – more about growing orchids – here)
orchid cacti (Epiphyllum species)
parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
pony tail palm (Beaucarnia recurvata, related to yucca)
wandering Jew (Tradescantia species)

The wandering Jew plants come in many leaf colors and types. I like this furry variety.

queen’s tears (Billbergia nutans – a kind of bromeliad)
spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
true yucca (Yucca gloriosa – often sold as a dracena but Dracena are not safe)

Spider plants come with striped leaves and solid gren leaves. They are great in hanging pots too.

Please Be Safe

This is my official disclaimer: The author reports information from research and does not guarantee the safety of the plants mentioned. Different pets may have underlying medical conditions.  Please check with your vet.  Neither the author, nor the ASPCA can be held liable in any way for information about pets and houseplants as presented.

Thanks for reading


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More about growing plant  (outdoors) every month of the year in this book: Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press).  This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.

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