Avoid problems by selecting plants suited to your
home’s growing conditions and gardening style. Then narrow the list
further to plants that are non-toxic specifically to the type of
pets you own. Consult with your veterinarian and visit the American
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website for
a list of pet-safe and toxic plants.
Create a list of all the plants you are growing. Include both common
and botanical names for accurate identification. Do a bit of
research on the care they need and their toxicity to your pets. If
you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic plant, you’ll have the
proper plant name when contacting your veterinarian.
Match the pet-friendly plants you select to their preferred light
conditions. An east- or west-facing window provides enough light for
most indoor plants. Keep those that need brighter light within two
feet of the window. Those that prefer lower light can be grown near
a north-facing window or up to six feet back or off to the side of
an east- or west-facing window.
For low light situations, consider cast iron plant, Lady palm, and
parlor palm or add artificial lights when growing other pet-friendly
plants in lower light situations.
Grow grape ivy, spider plants, baby tears (Soleirolia), peperomias,
prayer plants, Boston ferns, ponytail palm, and hoyas in brighter
locations. Save the brightest locations for Norfolk Island Pine,
lipstick plant and haworthia.
Add some color to your indoor garden with popular flowering plants
like African violet, Christmas cactus and moth orchid. These are
also listed as non-toxic on the ASPCA website.
Water plants thoroughly as needed. Tropical plants prefer slightly
moist soil, while cacti and succulents like it drier. Always pour
off any excess water that collects in the saucer. Allowing plants to
sit in water can increase the risk of disease and lead to root rot.
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Regularly groom and wipe dust off the leaves of your
indoor plants to help reduce the risk of insect damage. Remove
spotted leaves when they appear and adjust watering. This is often
enough to correct fungal disease problems.
When pest problems require control, always select
pet-friendly options. Start with a strong blast of water to dislodge
pests like aphids and mites. Follow with an application of a
lightweight horticulture oil such as Summit Year-Round Spray Oil (SummitResponsibleSolutions.com).
This organic spray controls aphids, mites, immature whiteflies and
all stages of scale and mealybugs.
And if those tiny fruit-fly-like gnats are too annoying to tolerate,
consider treating the potting mix with a Bacillus thruingiensis
israelensis product such as Summit Mosquito Bits labeled for
controlling fungus gnat larvae. Just sprinkle it on the soil surface
and this naturally occurring soil bacterium kills the fungus gnat
larvae in the soil. It’s an organic insecticide safe for people,
pets and plants. No matter the product you select – organic, natural
or synthetic – be sure to read and follow label directions.
Proper plant selection and maintenance can help keep your indoor
plants healthy and pets safe from harm.
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including
Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow
Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden
Moment TV & radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing
editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Summit
for her expertise to write this article. Myers’s web site is
[Photo credit: Melinda Myers, LLC]