I have a new plant-buying problem. This is in addition to my nail-polish-buying problem and my purchasing-anything-with-a-cat-on-it problem. Maybe I actually just have a money-spending problem.
I went into a gardening center last week to buy a friend a plant pot for her birthday (she shares my plant-buying problem) and walked out with three new friends, including my fourth basil plant that I really, really, really want to live. Because my husband has a basil-eating problem.
And my cat also loves plants, but he does not love them like I love them. He does not like to admire them from afar, and enjoy how they add life to a room and filter the air and provide it with clean oxygen. No, he likes to a) make eye contact with me as he is swiping a succulent off the countertop, smashing to the ground and b) eat them. The latter of these is a big problem for him, because not all plants are safe for him to eat, and not just because of my wrath when he does inevitably consume them.
So, because I am an anxiety-riddled cat mom, I did a lot of research about the plants I brought into my home, assuming that at some point, they would probably be at least nibbled on by ol' Ted the cat. A great resource for this is ASPCA's toxicity plant list, which will tell you whether the plant you're pining after is toxic to dogs, cats or horses. And unless you're neurotic like me and decided to read this toxicity list like an encyclopedia, cataloging away all this plant knowledge for future cat emergencies, I thought it might be easier to just share a few of my favorite pet-friendly plants.
Hen and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) — Hen and chicks are probably your most common type of succulent. They are known for being able to grow in very difficult soil, and need plenty of sunlight but are low-maintenance when it comes to watering. As the plant grows, the leaves closer to the soil will die off, so be sure to trim them occasionally.
Nerve plant (Fittonia) — The nerve plant, also known as the mosaic plant, can be found in vibrant reds like I have here, but is most commonly found with silvery veins, and also in pink and green variations. The nerve plant actually makes for a great terrarium plant, and would do well in a place with little natural light. It requires constant watering. If you like this plant, the freckle face/polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya) is also a fun, similar, pet-safe options.
Calathea — The Calathea version I have here is the Calathea gemengd, and it is one of my favorite house plants for its velvety purple leaves. This plant is a bit finicky and likes to be warm — I keep it in our bathroom/laundry room for this reason, as it gets nice and steamy in there. Keep soil moist through the spring and summer and water intermittently in the winter. It likes the shade and does not like direct sunlight.
Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina)* — This was the first house plant I ever had, and I would highly recommend it for people just being introduced to house plants. A very good friend of mine gifted a Wandering Jew to me for my birthday, and I could not believe how easy it was to take care of. It's also a very beautiful plant, with purplish hues the more sunlight it gets, and even little purple flowers if it's extra happy. The Wandering Jew can grow like a weed if you take care of it properly, which is basically just to give it plenty of indirect sunlight and make sure its dirt doesn't go dry. If you accidentally break off a piece of the plant, you can simply stick it into soil and it just keep on growing. *Not safe for dogs
Burro's Tail (Sedum morganianum) — These burro's tail are some of my favorite-looking succulent plants for their very juicy and somewhat wild appearance. If given enough time, the burro's tail can actually become very long and very heavy, so make sure to store it in a strong pot, and preferably a hanging pot or one with some height. The succulent prefers the bright shade and doesn't need too much watering. Make sure to place it in a pot with good drainage to avoid overwatering.
Pink quill (Tillandsia anita) — The Tillandsia is also known as an air plant and they are quite trendy at the moment for office space plants because of their low-maintenance. They are called air plants because you can actually suspend them in the air without soil. Take care of them by providing the air plant with indirect sunlight and by spraying its leaves a couple times a week — do not water the base of the plant.
Photos and text © Katie Currid, 2015. All rights reserved.