Just like you, your pets can enjoy your garden and plants – and they like it even more so when they have access to plants that provide them with stimulation or food. You can use plants to create mini habitats for smaller pets, build shady areas using taller plants for hiding from the hot summer sun, and there are many plants that can encourage interaction for all animals through scent and sight!
Take a look through my pet-friendly plant selection below, and provide your furry and feathered friends with a garden that they can enjoy just as much as you.
But first of all, here’s a list of plants to avoid if you have any pets that frequent your garden…
Plants to avoid if you have pets
Some animals will naturally have no interest in eating your garden plants; however, if you have a curious pets who likes to nibble on a leaf or two, you should avoid the following plants. The Dog’s Trust has a more comprehensive list of plants that are toxic to dogs especially, but any toxic plants in general should be avoided for all types of animal.
Plants that your pets will love
Want to try out some new plants in your garden, but not sure which ones will enrich your pets? Here are some suggestions based on their benefits.
The summer sun can be harmful to your pets, causing sunburn and overheating that can be fatal. Install these plants in your garden to provide some relief from the sun when it’s at its peak.
Buddleia – these bushes are typically known for attracting butterflies, but they can also grow to great heights and therefore are ideal for creating shady spaces in larger gardens.
Camellia – you can always count on a camellia to be safe for all pets (and humans, too!). No part of the tree is toxic, and it can create a beautiful canopy that’s perfect for animals to frolic beneath.
Acer palmatum – there are many varieties of this tree, which can grow to heights of 10 to 25ft. These deciduous trees create ideal shade spots in spring and summer, and animals can enjoy playing with the falling leaves come autumn. Avoid Acer rubrum (red maple) if you have a horse.
Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island date palm) – parakeets will absolutely adore this palm tree, and are known to build nests within its leaves in its native country of Spain, as it provides the perfect amount of shelter from the sun, precipitation, wind and predators. It’s hardy down to -8°C (18°F), and is relatively fast-growing when planted in a sunny spot. Avoid sago palms (Cycas revoluta, A.K.A.Cyads) if you have a dog.
Nepeta cataria (catnip) – hence its name, cats will go crazy for the scent of catnip, and will roll around in the plant’s foliage and flowers in an almost euphoric state. Catnip is safe for cats to ingest, as well as dogs and rabbits.
Viburnum – an autumn and winter flowering plant, viburnum produces an intense scent with its white, often ball-shaped flowers.
An extra food source
All of these suggestions should only be consumed in moderation, just like any food for animals.
Callisia repens – rabbits, ornamental birds, reptiles, hamsters and guinea pigs will love this fresh, delicious alternative to dry food. Find it here.
Thyme – thyme is a beneficial herb that is scented as well as being tasty for dogs, cats, rabbits and parrots. It contains essential minerals and vitamins including potassium, iron and magnesium which can help your pet thrive.
Chlorophytum (spider plant) – a plant tolerant of neglect, Chlorophytum is also a nutritious food for rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs. Find it here.
Berry plants – strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are yummy snacks for dogs, cats and other pets to snack on as long as they’re grown without pesticides. They contain fibre, vitamins and antioxidants, but it’s important to note that they also contains lots of natural sugar, so should be eaten by pets in moderation.
Lemon balm – as well as being highly scented, lemon balm is a low-growing herb that is safe for all mammalian and avian pets, even horses. Some dog owners give small amounts of the herb to anxious dogs for its alleged calming benefits.
Cyperus Alternifolius (cat grass) – this plant is often used for alleviating digestive issues, including getting rid of indegestible hair balls in cats. Some cat owners use cat grass as a non-toxic houseplant alternative for their cats to chomp on. Find it here.
Wheat grass – wheat grass is a yummy treat for parrots, and it’s incredibly eay to grow organically from seed on a sunny windowsill. Find it here.
Lettuce – made friends with the slugs and snails in your garden? Or maybe you’ve got a pet snail that adores a snack? Lettuce is the perfect green for both you and your slithery friends to enjoy!
What pets do you have at home, and which plants do they love? Let me know in the comments section!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.