Plants are our friends, but animals are family. Thankfully, it’s possible to have both under one roof, but it’s important to select the right plants since most are toxic to pets (in varying degrees).

Toxicity is a defense mechanism developed over millions of years to deter herbivores from making plants into a meal. A pothos plant, for example, has crystal raphides that are slightly irritating but in no way fatal. Sago palms, on the other hand, are extremely dangerous to dogs. The primary toxic agent is cycasin, which results in acute gastrointestinal signs within 15 minutes of ingestion and can lead to central nervous system failure and severe liver failure. Scary? Yes.

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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) publishes the most comprehensive list of plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs. It reads like a textbook and is undoubtedly overwhelming. To make it easier, we put together this simple list of plants that are safe to bring home. It’s important to note that ingesting any plant material could still give your pet an upset stomach — even the plants on this list. If you have a curious companion who can’t get enough, keep your green friends out of reach in a macrame plant hanger suspended from the ceiling or at the top of a bookshelf.

1. Bird’s Nest Fern

Photo: e5locationhouse/Instagram 

If you’ve got cats in a basement apartment — look no further. Not only is this plant pet-friendly but it also thrives in low light. You can have it all!

Light: Low to medium light
Water: Weekly

2. Calathea Rattlesnake

Photo: mila_louis_toygers/Instagram 

With painterly leaves in a gorgeous striped pattern, rattlesnakes are big crowd pleasers. They can also tolerate lower light, with leaves that rise and fall from day-to-night. When you start the day with your furry friends, they’ll be right there with you.

Light: Low to bright-indirect
Water: Weekly

3. Spider Plant

Photo: plant_progress/Instagram

Yet another low-light warrior, spider plants are perfect for beginners. They’re also quick to sprout ‘spider plant babies.’ We already knew you were the best pet parent. Now you can add awesome plant parent to your resume.

Light: Medium to bright-indirect sunlight
Water: Weekly

4. Parlor Palm

Photo: bloomscape/Instagram 

Parlor palms make the perfect companion for your table, desk or nightstand but can also grow up to 4 feet tall if they’re planted in a 10-inch pot. They have long, graceful fronds that can tolerate low light but prefer medium indirect light.

Light: Low to bright-indirect light
Water: Weekly

5. Staghorn Fern

Photo: steph_floret/Instagram

Since you love animals so much, it’s only natural to want a plant with leaves resembling elk antlers. They’re also a little furry, thanks to the fine hairs surrounding the leaves.

Light: Medium to bright-indirect light
Water: About weekly

6. Haworthia

Photo: phillyplantfam/Instagram

Don’t be misled by the spiky appearance, haworthias are pet-friendly. They’re also low-light succulents that don’t need a ton of water — leaving ample time to take Fido for a walk.

Light: Medium to bright indirect
Water: Every 10-14 days

7. Air Plants

Photo: tillandsia_bangkok/Instagram 

If the chew toy goes missing and your dog set their sights on your air plant, it won’t cause harm. Since air plants don’t need to be rooted in soil, you can place them anywhere in the apartment as decor.

Light: Medium to bright indirect light
Water: Dip in a bowl of room temperature water for ten minutes, then allow it to dry

8. Money Tree

Photo: kaathleennnn/Instagram 

The money tree is symbolic for many people who believe they bring luck and prosperity. While I can’t guarantee a money tree will make you rich, it won’t be harmful to your pets. They’re also relatively low-maintenance when it comes to watering.

Light: Medium to bright indirect light
Water: About every one to two weeks

9. Boston Fern

Photo: jsgood44/Instagram 

Unfortunately, this plant is very tempting for cats to play with (I’ve seen this firsthand with a cat named Bowie). Thankfully, they look amazing in hanging baskets.

Light: Medium to bright-indirect
Water: Keep soil evenly moist

10. Prayer Plant

Photo: crunchyginger/Instagram

Prayer plants have hues of red, green, brown and cream in the leaves. Like rattlesnakes, the painterly leaves are constantly in motion — this time-lapse shows just how much.

Light: Low to medium light
Water: Keep soil evenly moist

11. Cast iron plant

Photo: bahargol.021/Instagram 

Along with being pet-friendly, this plant is basically indestructible (it’s named after cast iron, after all).

Light: Besides direct light, any exposure will do
Water: Let the soil dry out between waterings

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