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Pet-friendly plants: identify poisonous plants for cats and dogs

Keeping pets safe around your house and garden plants

With more Millennials and Gen Zs delaying the “let’s have a baby” talk, there’s a phenomenal cultural shift towards the modern idea of parenting. A recent study showed that 22% of this combined group (globally) prefer pets over kids. And it’s not just cute cats and friendly dogs, but also a significant rise in plant parenting.

And whether you fall in the plant/pet house or plant/pet/and kids house, there is no doubt that our ‘fur babies’ and ‘flora babies’ enrich our lives either way. In a creature co-habiting household, however, we need to make sure everyone can live in harmony, especially when it comes to the safety of pets around gardens and house plants.

As pet owners, we want our furry friends to enjoy a safe and happy environment both indoors and outdoors. However, certain house and garden plants can pose a threat to our beloved live-in buddie. Understanding which plants are dangerous and learning how to create a pet-friendly space is crucial to ensure the well-being of our four-legged companions. In this blog, we will explore common plants in South Africa that can be harmful to pets and provide tips on choosing safer alternatives and handling plant-related accidents.


Identifying Dangerous Plants

It’s essential to familiarise ourselves with the plants that can be toxic to our pets. So, before you bring your beloved new pet home, ensure that you plant/pet-proof your pad by checking your surroundings for these common houseplants.

PLEASE DO NOTE – we are not saying to completely get rid of these beautiful plants, but rather to ensure that you place them in spots where they are happy (sun and moisture) and are hard to reach or won’t tempt a little nibble from your fur babies.

  • Lilies
  • Azaleas
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Split-Leaf Philodendron
  • African Evergreen
  • Aloe Vera
  • Arrowhead Vine
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Baby’s Breath
  • Charming Dieffenbachia
  • Devil’s Ivy
  • Dracaena
  • Rubber Tree Plant
  • Striped Dracaena
  • Dragon Tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron
  • Golden Pothos
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue


The garden is a trickier space to manage, especially if your pets are the roaming, hunting, pouncing and curious taster types. There are loads of plants that can be toxic but not fatal, and in South Africa, the most common ones are oleander, cycads, and certain bulbs like daffodils and tulips that can be harmful when ingested.

However, because everyone’s garden is a unique buffet of flora wonder, we do recommend checking out They have a very handy list of all the types of garden and wild plants that could be poisonous or at least cause a very upset tummy.

Choosing Pet-Friendly Plants

Now that we know what to avoid, we can look at a couple of safe alternatives for your home. When creating a pet-friendly space, it’s important to choose plants that are safe for cats and dogs. Opt for cat-friendly houseplants like spider plants, Boston ferns, and orchids, which are non-toxic and add beauty to your home. For dog-friendly garden plants, consider options like marigolds, petunias, and sunflowers, which are safe if your furry friend decides to take a nibble.

Plant Alternatives

If you’re looking to achieve a specific style or aesthetic and want to avoid dangerous plants, consider these plant alternatives.

  • Replace lilies, which are highly toxic to cats, with daisies or African violets.
  • Swap out azaleas with camellias or African daisies, which provide similar colours and blooming patterns. Pretty!
  • Dieffenbachia can be replaced with prayer plants or peperomia, while philodendron can be substituted with ferns or snake plants.


Dealing with Pet Plant Accidents

Accidents can happen, and if you suspect or witness your pet ingesting a plant, it’s crucial to act promptly. First, remove your pet from the vicinity of the plant to prevent further ingestion. If the plant is known to be toxic, contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance. They may advise inducing vomiting or bringing your pet in for examination. Keep any information about the plant handy for the vet, including its name and any available tags or labels.

Year-Round Plant Safety

Maintaining a safe environment for your pets involves year-round plant care. Regularly inspect your houseplants and garden for any signs of damage or wilting, as certain plants become more appealing to pets when they’re stressed or unwell.

Ensure plants are securely placed out of your pet’s reach and consider using deterrents like bitter apple spray/Footsek/or citrus spray on plants to discourage nibbling.

Check out our range of hanging pots and elegant wall brackets to hoist up your plants and keep them safely out of reach.


Additionally, providing appropriate chew toys and a well-balanced diet can help satisfy your pet’s natural urge to chew. With a little extra care, attention, and Garden Mater gear from a Game or Makro near you, you can cultivate a beautiful and safe space for you, your beloved pets, and plants to enjoy year-round.