We dog and cat lovers know that some houseplants should not be in our homes. The furry friends in our lives are worth more in the hours of unconditional love they shower on us than those few houseplants we must sacrifice on their behalf. Cats and puppies instinctively like to nibble on greens, so we need to choose houseplants and create plant environments with our pets’ well being in mind.
Provide safe edibles. One of the best strategies to divert pets from our houseplants is to provide them with their own edible plants. Plants that our feline friends love and are easy to grow from seed are cat grass oats, wheatgrass and catnip. Som three of these ornamental grasses are nestled in my garden for leisurely grazing by our resident cats. Our dogs dearly love Karl Forester grass.
Lower their appeal. On large pots, where it is digging not nibbling that creates problems, use stone mulch to top dress houseplant roots. Stone mulch dissuades prying paws, yet allows water to penetrate into plant roots. Citrus scents usually drive away cats, while bitter apple discourages taste-testing dogs. Spraying water on the leaves, if the plant doesn’t mind, can discourage a cat that bats at branches.
Put them under cover. Enclosing plants in a terrarium can protect many varieties, especially those that require a controlled humidity. Encase cactus in glass and you can enjoy the benefit of not having to water for weeks at a time. Plant high water and humidity loving plants in a terrarium where they are easier to care for and out of reach from foraging pets.
Houseplants available at Watters safe for cats and dogs:
- African Violet: Care of African violets is relatively easy, requiring an environment of bright to moderate light, with even soil moisture and humidity. The greater challenge is choosing from the array of blossom colors: violet, blue, red, white, pink, cream, yellow and multicolored!
- Christmas Cactus: This cactus is from the coastal mountains of Brazil where the plants grow on trees or rocks in habitats that generally are shady with high humidity. It sports flowers of white, pink, yellow, orange, red or purple. This blooming plant is perfect for houses with cats and dogs!
- Boston Fern: For years, this native of the tropics has been a favorite houseplant. A perfect complement to a living room or front porch, this leafy creation is covered from head to toe with lush fronds. It’s easy to grow in rooms with limited natural light.
- Parlor Palm: This is a very popular houseplant because of its rich green, slightly arched and slender leaves. Palms are often passed along from generation to generation as they are very slow-growing and live actively for many years. Varieties of this pet-friendly houseplant range from a few inches high to several feet tall. There are Parlor Palms ideal for tabletop decorations, terrariums and other small enclosed spaces, as well as for large pots on the floor.
Houseplant Tips: Indoor plants really don’t care for winter’s indoor heating. Heated air is unbearable for the leaves of many plants we like to keep in our living spaces. The secret to stunning houseplants that gleam with healthy good looks is Leaf Shine with Moisture Guide. This spray-on plant shine not only brings out the gleam of houseplants, but also prevents them from losing moisture through their leaves. For those of you who struggle in the houseplant arena, this application will bring brown thumbs to a comfortable shade of green.
If you travel and leave your green friends at home alone, I recommend adding Aqua Boost Crystals to the root soil. These super absorbent crystals hold 200 times their weight in water and significantly reduce the need for frequent watering of potted plants. These crystals can extend the need for watering to two-week intervals.
Until the next issue, I’ll see you in the garden center. QCBN
By Ken Lain
Ken Lain, the mountain gardener, can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his website at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter .