Hi hi everybody!! I have been wanting to write something about pets and safety around plants and cut flowers for a while and initially I thought I would write a super detailed piece about which individual plants and flowers are safe/toxic. I think that information is maybe fairly readily available though if you know what to look for. Instead I think I’d like to tell you about my philosophy about pet safety around plants and flowers and leave you with some good resources and ideas for determining things.
the first main things I want to mention is that basically any plant or flower you might purchase if it is not advertised as edible for humans may have been treated with some pretty powerful pesticides, so even if it is officially a “safe” plant or flower, there could be pesticides on it which basically nullifies that safety.
All of that being said, it is a good practice to look up specific plants and flowers you are planning to bring into your space to make sure they are safe. Especially is you have a cat or dog who is like our Kiki and is drawn instantly to anything that even looks like a plant or flower. When we first got Kiki I had separated out the safe plants from the toxic plants thinking we would let her interact with the safe plants. Then she made an absolute beeline for the safe plants and I started thinking, ok, this one is not toxic, but it has sharp leaves that could cut her mouth. Basically, we don’t keep any plants in Kiki’s space now as a result.
So, if you also have a pet that wants to eat any and all plants you’ll either need to be super careful about what plants/flowers you bring into their space or just dedicate some other space that is pet free as your plant/flower space.
I wanted to mention at least a few specific plants/flowers that ping on my list of dangerous ones.
Lilies of basically all types, are especially dangerous for cats. I’ve read/heard that even a bit of the pollen from a lily if it gets on their fur and they go to clean themselves can be deadly as it shuts down their kidneys. (The only notable exception to this set of lilies are peace lilies (spathphyllum) which are still toxic for pets but not so incredibly deadly as the others in that family of lilies). Lilies of all types are also toxic to dogs, but are not quite as deadly for dogs as they are for cats.
If you think about spring bulb plants like lilies, daffodils, hyacinths and even gladiolus (though they are admittedly more of a summer plant) the cut flowers of all of these plants are toxic to varying degrees for both cats and dogs. The bulbs in each of these types of plants are the most dangerous part of these plants, so I would suggest making sure they are kept out of reach of your pets whether as cut flowers or as plants.
In terms of other cut flowers, some inherently toxic ones that I use frequently in my designs include carnations, pompons/daisies/mums, eucalyptus, podocarpus (a green foliage).
Some plants that I sell frequently which are toxic for pets include snake plants (aka sansevierias/mother-in-laws tongue), ivy, peace lilies/spaths, aloe, dracenas, lucky bamboo, scheffleras/umbrella plants, fiddle leaf figs, anthuriums and azaleas.
In terms of cut flowers, there are a handful which are considered less toxic or not toxic for pets. These include roses, lisianthus, alstroemeria (though they can still cause a fair bit of stomach upset), wax flower, statice, sunflowers, orchids, gerbera daisies, snapdragons, stock, freesia and limonium.
Some of the less toxic/non toxic for cats and dogs plants that I sell frequently include ponytail palms, bromeliads, air plants, calatheas and many succulents.
If you are ever at my farmers market stand trying to find plants that are on the safer side for your pets I’m always happy to help advise and will look up specific plants if I am not certain.
The search string that I typically use when I’m trying to find out if a plant or flower is safe or not is “(plant name) cat/dog toxicity”.
You can also look up plants on the ASPCA website which has a very extensive and searchable database which has information on plant safety for dogs, cats and even horses. Their website is https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants.
The ASPCA also have a phone number you can call as an animal poison control hotline which is (888) 426-4435.
If you have a plant or flower that you really need to have identified and you are on Facebook there is one group in particular called Plant Identification is really incredible for fast accurate identification of plants. You will then need to look up information on toxicity about whichever plant they have identified for you as they very specifically only provide ids to keep the process streamlined and to avoid missing posts. Here is a link for their group https://m.facebook.com/groups/156706504394635/.
When choosing locations for your plants and arrangements I think it bears keeping in mind that any plant, even those which are considered non toxic, can cause stomach upset and vomiting in your pets.
If you ever have any questions about plant/flower safety going forward, I’m always happy to help do research to help keep your pet kiddos safe. Just reach out!