Plants are the absolute best example of design-meets-function and a win-win for interior decorating. They can make a space feel homier, add a pop of colour, and purify the air! However, most plants that we find in trendy home magazines or on lists of ‘toughest house plants to kill’ tend to be toxic or poisonous to our beloved furry friends. If you have pets like me, then you might know how difficult it is to keep them from nibbling on your greenery.
Here’s a list of eight house plants that are good for beginners and won’t result in a trip to the animal hospital if your furry friend happens to nibble on them!
1. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis Exaltata)
Some ferns can be highly toxic, but the Boston Fern is both a hardy house plant and safe for your pets! They need a cool place with indirect sunlight and do best in conditions that have high humidity levels. Your window ledge is great during the summer, but placing this plant in your bathroom or above a kitchen sink is the perfect place for it all year long. The steam from hot water will keep this plant happy and healthy. It doesn’t require a lot of watering, which makes it a good house plant for forgetful beginners.
2. Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
Although its nickname suggests it’s cactus, this plant is really a species of succulent – one that blooms beautiful pink and purple flowers, usually around the holiday season if cared for properly. This peculiar plant thrives in shady windows and extended periods of darkness come the fall; it actually promotes the blooming process! It only requires water when its soil is completely dry and doesn’t like to be over watered.
3. Blue Echeveria (Echeveria Glauca)
Another succulent for the list! There’s a reason they’re so popular, but this entry can be a little trickier to care for when kept indoors. Blue Echeverias require lots of sunlight – in fact, the bluer the succulent, the more sunlight it requires. The best indicator that your succulent needs more sunlight is if it starts to grow out of its rosette form. A taller succulent with gaps between its leaves is climbing up to find sunlight. If this happens to your Blue Echeveria, take it outside or try to place it as close to a window with indirect to direct sunlight as you can. You can also trim it back to a smaller stem. As long as a few leaves remain at the bottom, it will start growing from where you’ve clipped it!
4. Maidenhair Fern (Soleirolia Soleirolii)
This is the most difficult to care for entry on this list as it is particular about its preferred location, but once you find it a good home, you’re set! A spot in your bathroom or a place above your kitchen sink is a must for this plant to thrive as it requires humid conditions with medium light, or a light misting on a regular basis. Avoid direct sunlight as its leaves are highly delicate and will burn at the drop of a hat. I’ve learned how to care for this plant through trial and error. Outside of a bathroom or kitchen, I’ve been most successful leaving it just out of direct sunlight, watering it once a week, and misting it daily.
5. Spider Plant (Chlorophytum Comosum)
This is a tropical plant, but does remarkably well in varying levels of sunlight. Perfect for indoors or outdoors, this plant starts off small and grows larger the longer it’s around. It requires regular watering; once a week usually does the trick, or more depending on its sunlight conditions. This plant is great for beginners – but if you have a cat, you may want to place it in a hanging basket or on a higher shelf. I’ve had a few of these hunted to extinction when left on an easy-to-reach table top.
6. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)
This plant can survive an apocalypse. If you have a dark corner of your room that never sees sunlight, this plant will bring some life to it. Originally popular in Victorian England, these plants were able to survive staying indoors behind layers of thick curtains and other decorative drapery. It is a large plant and requires a bit more space than your bedside table can afford, but a large pot on the floor tucked behind that corner you never know how to decorate is be the best spot. Being a larger plant, watering it once every other week is sufficient. Just be sure to check the moisture in the soil to ensure you’re not overwatering it.
The only thing to consider if you’re looking into bringing this plant into your space is that is it difficult to find due to its popularity with condo-owners and beginners. If you can find a cast iron plant, be prepared to pay a little more for it, but be ready to keep it for a long time!
7. Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)
Pretty and practical, this herb is great to keep in your kitchen as it’s a popular culinary toping. It requires water when its soil is dry to the touch and it’s best to water the soil directly to avoid getting water on its leaves. It’s an easy plant to care for indoors and outdoors, as long as it has a consistent form of light. If kept indoors, indirect sunlight is perfect but don’t expect it to grow as quickly as it will when kept outside in direct sunlight. When kept inside, it will remain small, pretty, and a practical addition to your kitchen.
8. Cat Grass
The last entry on this list is specific to our furry feline friends – sorry dog lovers.
Although there are several popular species of this plant with different botanical names, “Cat grass” is the most common name for this plant and accurately so, as most cats will start nibbling on these plants if given the chance. Like any grass, this one requires regular water and a good amount of sunlight. Whereas it’s not a pretty plant and might seem odd to want to grow grass indoors, this plant will certainly keep your furry feline friend happy if you have one.
Pro tip: Have two pots in circulation so one can grow while the other is being nibbled on. You can switch them when you feel the other plant has been picked through enough.