Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Pet Friendly Plants

a brown dog sniffing the air in front of a flower garden

Hello Fellow Readers, Samantha wrote on Facebook, “Hi friends! Isaac and I want plants for our patio but are having trouble deciding what to get. What are your favorite pet-friendly potted plants?”

young woman and man with dog in sunflower field

Samantha & Isaac with Dwight

How fun to find out my nephew and his better half, in Knoxville, Tennessee, are interested in gardening. Of course, Aunt Mary asked specifics on whether they’re looking for houseplants they can bring outside in summer. Or, annual or perennial outdoor plants.

“I think we’re open to either one. We’re new to being plant-parents, so just something easy to keep alive.” She added the cute crying with laughter emoji.

Pet-Friendly Herbs & Annuals 

The responses back were fun to read too. One friend wrote, “I planted basil, cilantro, lavender, rosemary, and some peppers!” All are fine except lavender which is toxic to cats, dogs, and horses (not to suggest Isaac and Samantha should add a horse to their furry family lineup.)

Another friend touts “Snap Dragons! They’re cool and have pretty colors.”

Snap Dragons (Antirrhinum majus) are indeed cool with tall spikes of remarkable flowers hardy in zones 7-9, so an annual here. They’re pet friendly and high in deer resistance to boot.

Other safe annuals are Alyssum, Marigolds, Impatiens, Pansies, Petunias, Sunflowers, Sweet Potato Vine, and Zinnia.

Sage and Thyme are safe herbs for pets, not mint, though, as suggested by another pal. It’s toxic to pets, so best keep the pot for mint juleps beyond reach.

Tabby cat on garden wallCatnip is often mistaken for Catmint

One buddy suggested Catnip and Cat Grass, the latter new to me. Though Ellie, our canine kid, loves to eat grass as a matter of routine, not because her tummy is upset. There are microorganisms in grass that critters crave.

Cat Grass, which is rye, barley, oat or wheat, helps kitties dispel fur balls. It’s a great idea to grow some indoors too.

Folks often mistake Catmint for Catnip (Nepeta cataria). Catmint, Nepeta mussinii, is one of my favorite easy-care deer resistant perennials with blue-green foliage and purple flowers. While both are in the mint family, the scragglier Catnip is what entices a kitty. Your feline may enjoy a roll on your catmint, but it won’t cause a feline frenzy.

I learned Catnip is helpful for dogs too. It has the opposite effect, though, gently lessening anxiety, motion sickness, and aiding dog digestion. Be sure to check with your veterinarian before trying it.

Cactus & Venus Flytrap are fun pet-friendly plants

Samantha’s brother confidently added to the chat, “Cactus!” He’s right; most cacti are pet friendly, including the beloved Christmas and Easter Cactus, which are fun to bring outside in summer.

My favorite suggestion in the Facebook chat was Venus Flytrap. It makes the safe for pets list with the added benefit of taking care of a few flying pests on the patio.

I’m sure Samatha and Isaac will take care of any plant with the excellent care they give their furry kids. “Think of them as un-furry kids,” I wrote back, adding a smiling face, double hearts, and paw prints.

Garden Dilemmas?  (and now on your favorite Podcast App.)

The ASPCA website has a thorough list of plants sortable by poisonous to dogs, cats, and horses. Their 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435. Link to the ASPCA list:

How to grow cat grass

Check out previous columns Gardening with Dogs Part 1 and Part 2


Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary

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