It’s World Animal Plant Day on October 4, and with the fashion for houseplants it seems logical to pick out varieties that both owners and pets will get along with.
According to experts at The Joy Of Plants, these five pet-friendly plants are safe for dogs, cats, rabbits and birds who like a nibble on something green.
You don’t have to have pets, as they look great in any room setting and are very forgiving if you’re a forgetful gardener:
Cyperus (umbrella plant)
C. alternifolius is well known, but Zumula is also suitable as a pet-friendly plant.
It’s also known as dwarf papyrus, growing to 75cm and needs plenty of water, often sold as a plant suitable for the edges of indoor ponds, so overwatering won’t be a problem with these.
Beaucarnea recurvata (ponytail palm or elephant’s foot plant)
The ponytail palm (it’s not a palm at all) is an odd plant, with a bulbous trunk and leaves that curl backwards from the top, hence the name.
The swollen trunk stores water and it can stand up to cats – to them, it’s an irresistible scratching post and they often have a go at the leaves.
Chlorophytum (spider plant)
A plant that’s back in fashion from the doldrums. C. comosum with its variegated fronds (leaves) has a few similar cultivars.
You’ll probably see the variety Variegatum most of the time. Comosum means ‘crested’ and refers to the crests which are found on the plant’s runners.
This one’s not usually associated with being grown indoors, but Bambusa vulgaris, with sturdy yellow canes (technically culms), is the best candidate.
Hordeum is like a mini field of barley in a pot.
It grows upwards in a compact way and provides house cats with folic acid.
How to look after pet-friendly houseplants
All like a position between light and partial shade without direct sunlight.
The plants need a lot of water, especially Cyperus, although don’t overdo it with Beaucarnea.
A bit of plant food safe to use on edible plants, once a month, keeps the plant healthy.
If a cat or dog has got a little over-playful with the plant, damaged leaves can be cut off and the growth will continue.
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JOBS TO DO THIS WEEKEND
Pick apples and pears unless the wind has already blown them down.
Sow broad beans in pots in a cold greenhouse, cloche or cold frame for early crops next June.
Sow green manure such as field beans and grazing rye in otherwise empty beds.
Finish pruning blackberries and bramble hybrids.
Make a cross-cut in cabbage stems when harvesting to encourage a further crop.
Plant biennials such as wallflowers, forget-me-not, Bellis, Primula, Viola (including winter pansies) and other spring bedding plants in prepared ground or pots.
Continue to plant spring-flowering bulbs.
Plant new herbaceous perennials, as the soil still has some warmth, but is moister than it was during the summer. Lift and divide poor flowering or overcrowded plants. Remove stakes and other supports as plants die down for the winter.
Lily bulbs can be planted up in pots.
Lift tender bulbs, such as Galtonia and Tigridia.
Continue collecting and storing seed from perennials still forming seed heads.