Whether you need a gift for an animal-lover or want a safe way to freshen up your own space, think twice before you resign yourself to artificial greenery.  Many popular tropical houseplants are pet-friendly and easy to care for. 

Teeny Tinies

Air plants and some succulents (like hens-and-chicks, echeveria, and rosettes) are great nontoxic options for little spaces.  Succulents do well in window sills or other well-lit spaces.  Air plants can be tucked into bright corners or corralled into hanging terrariums.  They may look like chew toys to your furry friends, though, so be sure to position them well out of reach.

Blooming Plants

If you're looking for a colorful addition to your indoor space, try an African violet, a bromeliad, or a Phalaenopsis orchid.  Phalaenopsis can bring both dramatic height and color, while an African violet will fill a smaller space nicely.  Long-lasting bromeliad blooms have tropical flair and are easy to care for.

Foliage Plants

The classic Boston fern is pet-safe; so are some other more unusual fern varieties like maidenhair, bird's nest, and staghorn ferns.  Alternatively, try a variety of peperomia or pilea.  Pilea peperomioides--also known as "Chinese money" or "UFO plant"--sports circular leaves on whimsical stalks and, as an added bonus, can easily be divided and shared among your fellow plant-lovers.  Spider plant is also easy to care for, grows quickly, and produces long, elegant tendrils perfect for a hanging basket.

A quick caveat: the plants described above are nontoxic, meaning they will not hurt your pets if the blooms or foliage are ingested. Some of these plants may still create temporary stomach upset.  If you don't think your pet will be able to resist temptation and you'd rather not deal with repeat stomach upset, opt for hanging plants or sturdy terrariums--that way, your pet won't have easy access to munchable foliage and blooms.

Flora Michler