Pet-Friendly Indoor Gardening

Indoor plants make a wonderful addition to our home decor and improve indoor air quality. Those with pets, however, may find it difficult to protect plants from curious pets and pets from indoor greenery.

The good news is that you can grow an indoor garden even if you have pets. Yes, some like to dig in the ground or even eat our favorite houseplants, but with proper plant selection and planning, you can protect your pets while enjoying an indoor garden.

Start by selecting plants that are safe for your pets. See the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website for a list of pet safe plants to grow and poisonous plants to avoid. It will reduce your anxiety by helping you create a safe indoor green space for your pets.

Incorporate a few easy-care plants like blunt-leaved peperomia, cast iron plant, spider plant, and Swedish ivy that aren’t toxic to cats and dogs. Add color to your indoor garden with African Violets and Phalaenopsis orchids that are safe for dogs and cats.

Next, adjust your gardening style to protect your plants from curious animals. Mulch the soil in large planters with coarse wood chips or decorative rocks to prevent cats from using the planters as an alternate litter box. Just make sure the mulch doesn’t attract or present a hazard to dogs or other pets who might be tempted to eat the mulch or lodge it in their mouths.

Or invest in a commercial mat designed to avoid digging. Most are plastic or rubber with upward-facing bumps that humanely discourage digging. Simply cut the mat to size and lay it on the floor surface.

Consider elevating your garden by growing plants in hanging baskets or in pots placed on high shelves out of the reach of curious animals. Be sure to keep up with the pruning as those long, hanging stems can provide tempting entertainment.

Get out the homemade or commercial repellents for these persistent animals. Use products labeled for this purpose or make sure your homemade concoction is safe for pets, plants and furniture.

Enlisting scare tactics can be the next step in keeping your plants safe from grazing pets. Sprayers, noisemakers, and commercial devices can help deter pets from digging and nibbling on plants.

Using a variety of strategies often yields the best results. Once you figure out the best method to keep your plants safe and your pets healthy and happy, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of indoor plants.

Melinda Myers is the author of over 20 gardening books and host of The Great Courses’ ““How to Grow Anything” DVD Series. His website, MelindaMyers.comoffers gardening tips and videos.