If your cat nibbles the new leaves off your Chinese Money Plant or your dog knocks over giant Sago Palm (and favourite pot) it’s pretty irritating, but if your pet eats a highly toxic plant, the effects could be devastating.
Bloombox Club get quite a lot of messages from pet-owners asking about how to balance their love for furry friends with their love for green. We dare say that a lot of the anxiety around pets and plants is misplaced.
The vast majority of houseplants are technically toxic to cats and dogs. But so are many of the plants that grow in UK woodlands, including daffodils, foxgloves, tulips, yew trees and tomato plants. Knowing this doesn’t stop people from taking their dogs for walks or letting them loose in a well-planted garden, so why are people so concerned when it comes to choosing houseplants?
To find out whether the panic over toxicity is rational, Bloombox Club spoke to Dr. Rosie Brandreth-Poynter, professional vet and former Great British Bake Off Contestant.She was quite firm about the fact that some plants do present a serious risk to pets. Of these, lilies are a prime offender and can be lethal if ingested. Euphorbias, Elephant Ears (or alocasias) and Dumb Canes are also plants to be wary of. If you have pets who like to nibble leaves, it would be wise to keep these on high shelves or in rooms that they don’t venture into.
Another reasonable worry, as Rosie points out, is that new and exotic varieties are reaching plant aficionados long before animal experts can assess the risk they may or may not pose to pets. She says, ‘I have a lot of clients asking me which plants are safe and I, and vets in general don't really know (we know the lethal ones...just not the rest!). Practices are always posting images of harmful 'human foods' and chemicals, but I haven't seen a safe vs. not safe plant poster.’
Ultimately, whether you decide to keep toxic plants will be a personal decision. Those whose pets show no interest in their plants and/or those with pets whose movements are confined by area (eg. ground floor) may decide they can indulge their plant habit with little restrictions.
If you do have nibbly cats – it does tend to be cats! – then it’s probably best to look up the nature of the plant’s toxicity before putting it on your coffee table.
Bloombox Club makes a point of writing whether a plant is toxic on each product page so you have as much information as possible before you take a plant home. We also have a section solely devoted to pet-friendly plants and offer a curated collection of three non-toxic plants here.