Many people like to grow houseplants, especially when there is no outdoor space, or only a tiny garden. Water houseplants regularly with a long-handled watering can to access the roots (when soil feels dry or if you see droopy yellow leaves with brown tips). Water at dawn and dusk, to reduce evaporation (signs of over-watering are wilting leaves, fungal growth and black insects).
Plants don’t ‘clean the air’. Environmental engineer Michael Waring says this is based on 30-year old research (they remove chemicals so slowly, you would need 5000 plants in a small flat, to have any effect). Just remove clutter, open the windows ajar, use natural cleaning products and a good vacuum cleaner.
This Green Terrazzo Bamboo Watering Can is an alternative to plastic or metal, which can rust in England’s rainy weather. This pretty sage green watering can is a mini size, made from bamboo wood that is sourced from sustainable forests. The jug has specks of light greys and cream patterns, and a unique shape. It holds around 250ml of water.
Many Houseplants Are Toxic to Pets
Many plants are toxic to pets (just brushing a tail against sago palm or lily can burn internal organs, and cats in particular could knock them over. Signs of poisoning (lethargy, sickness, drooling and breathing difficulties) are medical emergencies. If this happens, remove residual plants, wash affected area with warm water and take plants (and vomit) to the vet with your pet. Don’t send pet-toxic plants as gifts, or use if you share space (like co-working offices). Never display houseplants by garden windows, to help stop birds flying into windows. If affected (like a greenhouse), see humane safe slug/snail deterrents.
- The book Leaf Supply lists pet-friendly and toxic houseplants
- Treehugger lists safe houseplants for pets.
- A Considered Life has a good post on pet-friendly houseplants.
- Pet-Toxic Plants to avoid
- See make your garden safe for pets for plants to avoid (inc. for house rabbits)
- Avoid cocoa/pine/rubber mulch and fresh compost near pets
Pet-toxic houseplants include:
- Sago palm
- All lilies (Asian, peace etc)
- Cheese plants
- All bulbs (daffodils, tulips, begonia, geraniums etc):
- Azaleas (rhododendrons), Poinsettias & Chrysanthemum
- Asparagus fern & Branching ivy
- Caladium (red heart-shaped leaves)
- Aloe vera plants
- Lemon trees
- Begonia (and all bulbs)
- Branching ivy
- Caladium (the big heart-shaped red leaves)
- Money plants (jade)
- All fruit pips & seeds are toxic (mini fruit trees)
- Tomato plants (esp. green tomatoes)
- Potato plants (green, raw & unripe potatoes)
- (too much) catnip gives upset tummies
- Lavender (esp. toxic to cats, birds, reptiles and ferrets: they can’t absorb essential oils in plants, oils, perfumes or scented candles: avoid use around them, and air rooms after use).
- If you (illegally) grow cannabis, this plant is also toxic
- Cacti are obviously spiky
Safer herbs in mild versions (still avoid near pets, even ‘safe’ ones could cause tummy upset) are basil, rosemary, thyme and coriander. Avoid oregano, lemongrass, pennyroyal mint, tarragon, chives (or plants in the onion family: chives, leeks, onions, shallots), parsley and bay laurel. See how to grow your own herbs.
Safer Houseplants Near Pets
All plants could be a risk for certain animals, so ask your vet if in doubt – these are just less lethal if ingested, in most circumstances. Don’t use pesticides, these make all plants toxic. It’s confusing as different sites list plants as unsafe and safe. This edited list is collated from animal poison control experts. At time of writing (check for updates), safer plants listed are:
- African violets
- Boston fern (be careful, pets can chew them)
- Air plants (potential choking risk)
- Orchids (slipper orchid is toxic to dogs)
- Bamboo plants
- Spider plants (cats could get upset tums, if playing with them)
Zero Waste Plant Pots
Most plant pots are made from plastic (bad) or terracotta (this is okay, and good to soak up water). But if you want to use up some waste materials, here are some good brands of zero waste plant pots:
These speckled plant pots are beautifully handcrafted, with a luxury matte texture, against the grain of the clay. You can also use them for pens or paintbrushes. Sold individually or a set of two, each one is handmade. Made from stoneware clay, and sent in zero waste packaging.
This cotton eco twist plant pot is handmade in England from 100% cotton. In 2 sizes, this is perfect also for storing bits and bobs.
POTR Pots make playful plant pots made from waste plastic, inspired by clean architectural design. These ‘origami homes’ self-water your plants, and are posted flat through the letterbox, to ensure a minimal carbon footprint. Easy to use, the flat sheet pops into a beautiful pot that can hold drinking water in the base. The recycled cotton card doubles as a wicking straw, allowing your plant to drink when thirsty.
This recycled paper ‘graphic’ pot is made from surplus paper that is turned into new paper. The softness of the paper enables it to be embossed with beautiful patterns. In Black or Dark Green. These waterproof vases/planters are not designed to hold standing water, for extended periods.
These geometric jesmonite plant pots are made from an eco-friendly mineral stone that is like a greener alternative to acrylic or concrete. Handmade in Manchester, the large size is ideal for plants up to 15cm diameter, and don’t need a lot of water. Each one is hand-poured to give a detailed marble pattern. In 4 colours: Emerald Green & Bright Yellow, Coral & Lilac, Mustard & Bright Pink and Cobalt Blue & Bright Orange. Each pot is sealed using a VOC-free water-based sealant in a matte finish, which absorbs into the material to give excellent water protection. Just wipe with a soft cloth with warm biodegradable soapy water.
Sent in a recycled card box, wrapped in recycled eco bubble wrap (keep away from pets and children, and recycle). The box is packed with recycled shredding from local companies, and includes a printed card with product information.
These reclaimed iron plant pots are ideal for the courtyard or garden. They are made from iron that has been gathered from recycled old storage drums. The character adds detail and texture, and the reclaimed nature means that these striking planters are always unique. The planters have drainage holes, making them suitable for outside use. The Forest & Co is a Devon company that sells beautiful things for the home. Many items are made locally, and others are sourced from Fair Trade suppliers. All items have a vintage feel and contemporary edge.
These plant pots made from recycled plastic are well-made by ECOPOTS Brussels, from a blend of recycled plastic and crushed stone powder. In colours (grey whitegrey or black), the small flower pot is ideal for the dining or coffee table, or the garden or balcony.
The Scandinavian designs combine form and function, and the 20% recycled stone ensures they are UV proof, breakproof and frost-resistant. Designed to last 10 years, they can then be recycled. The unique composite material provides insulation to the plant roots, and they are the only mass market flowerpots and planters, with a handmade finish. Also for hanging baskets (with a low round bowl for herbs or plants) and its own water reservoir in the bottom, to ensure roots are protected and able to hydrate, when they need to.
Smart Pots are made in Oklahama, and designed to last 10 years. Offering food water drainage, aeration and heat release, after use, dump out the soil and let the bag dry, then brush off dust and small roots. Fold for storage (do not put in a tumble dryer). Salt and minerals can build up to cause a ‘mildew appearance’ but it’s nothing of concern, just scrub the sides lightly, then recycle the pot at textile banks, at end of use. Feedback is that most rodents don’t tunnel through the fabric, however you could place them on top of metal grating, or use a saucer below your container as an extra barrier.
Tevaplanter is a vessel that acts as a water bank. Made from ceramic, it’s designed to absorb water, so you can get away with watering plants every 5 to 15 days, ideal if you are going on holiday.
The Little Book for Plant Parents is a nice little guide for tips and inspiration, if you want to cultivate your own urban jungle. Bursting with ideas to hone your green fingers, this book includes tips on pet-friendly houseplants. Houseplants do not ‘clean the air’ (a 30-year old outdated NASA myth). Many houseplants are also toxic to pets. Don’t place foliage near garden views, to stop birds flying into windows.
- Choosing the right light
- Choosing the right humidity
- Choosing the right soil
- How much space do you have?
- Plant profiles & care