It is now more popular than ever to decorate your home with bright splashes of greenery, and succulents make the perfect low-maintenance houseplants. If you love succulents and your pets, then you have most likely worried about both coexisting together in your home. One of the most common questions about succulents is if they are toxic to cats, dogs, and other pets. The answer? It depends.
Fortunately, most succulents are completely harmless to pets. In addition, most animals instinctively avoid eating succulents because they do not smell or taste appealing to them. However, as a pet owner, it’s important to know which succulents are safe to keep indoors if you are worried about your pet potentially consuming them. Let’s look at 8 nontoxic succulents and 5 toxic succulents for pets:
8 Nontoxic Succulents Safe for Pets
Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks)
Sempervivum plants are beautiful succulent perennials made up of tufted leaves that form lovely rosettes. These succulents are low-growing, compact, and work great as groundcover. In addition, sempervivum plants easily multiply and grow in clusters, which earns them the nickname “hens and chicks” because it appears that the small, baby sempervivum tightly cluster around the more mature sempervivum like chicks around a mama hen. These low-maintenance succulents are great for beginners as they thrive in hot or cold temperatures with either low or strong light.
Sedum Morganianum (Donkey’s Tail or Burro’s Tail)
Native to Mexico and Honduras, these popular perennial evergreens usually hang in baskets due to their long, hanging stems that can reach up to 60 centimeters. The plump, blue-green leaves are rounded and fleshy, and they tightly cluster on the long stems like densely packed grapes. The donkey or burro’s tail even blooms terminal red-pink flowers in the summer time. Though the leaves fall easily, each leaf can be used to propagate an entirely new plant! This low-maintenance succulent can tolerate most soils as long as there is good drainage.
Echeveria are one of the most popular types of succulents. They are frequently used in succulent gardens, arrangements, planters, and terrariums. Echeveria come in many different shapes, colors, and stem types. They can have tight, short stems or hanging stems. Native to Central America, these rose-shaped succulents have many hybrids and varieties that are easy to grow, care for, and propagate. The charming rosettes have plump, smooth leaves meant to store water, so these succulents are also drought-tolerant.
Haworthias are very popular indoor succulents because they can grow in low light. In addition, these succulents grow slowly and are usually small, making them ideal for indoor planting. A popular variety of Haworthia is the Zebra Plant, which sports thin, dark green leaves that are pointed like the aloe plant. However, the horizontal white ridges and white bumps set it apart and make it look like zebra stripes. Low maintenance and easy to propagate, the popular zebra succulent is often grown indoors for its attractive appearance. These succulents are delicate and small, only growing 5 to 8 inches in height. Ideal for indoors, they prefer indirect sunlight and can even tolerate shade for short periods.
Aeoniums are native to the Canary Islands and found blooming in Madeira, Morocco, and East Africa. These succulents have dense, waxy leaves and form beautiful rosettes. They come in different varieties of color, shape, and size. Aeonium Kiwis feature a combination of yellow, green, and red; they also produce yellow flowers in the spring. Another striking variety is the Black Rose Aeonium known for its dark purple leaves that look almost black. The Aeonium Canariense, or Giant Velvet Rose, grows very large rosettes. However, this aeonium dies after flowering.
Graptopetalum Paraguayense (Ghost Plant)
This beautiful perennial is native to Mexico. The thick, fleshy leaves are in the shape of triangles and form gorgeous rosettes. The Ghost Plant sports pretty pastel colors and can range from pale blues to light purple. In full sun, the succulents can turn translucent and pink. In extreme heat with little moisture, the Ghost Plant can turn gray with dusty pink tones. In shady conditions, the Ghost Plant will turn blue-gray. The stems of the plant can hang or trail as they mature. This succulent is an attractive plant for groundcovers, hanging baskets, in potted containers, or floral arrangements.
Christmas Cactus (Thanksgiving Cactus or Easter Cactus)
This winter-blooming cactus grows beautiful red-pink flowers during the holiday season. Commonly planted indoors in pots, these cacti prefer partial shade instead of full sun. Christmas cacti are popular houseplants that are easy to care for and easy to propagate. They can grow very large and live for a long time. Keep these beautiful cacti in mind for any holiday gift giving!
Opuntia (Prickly Pear Cactus)
Opuntia, or prickly pear cacti, are known for their wide, flat “pads” or “paddles.” This cacti is safe for humans and pets alike—the pads, flowers, and fruits are usually safe to eat after cleaning. Most varieties of the prickly pear have detachable spines and tufts of sharp bristles, so be sure to wear thick gloves or long sleeves to avoid being poked when caring for them. The flowers that bloom from the prickly pear appear mid-summer and are a bright, cheery yellow. This cacti is extremely drought-tolerant and thrives in gravelly, well-draining soils.
5 Toxic Succulents Not Safe for Pets
Aloe (Aloe Vera)
The Aloe plant is an incredibly popular succulent to own because it is widely considered a medicinal plant for humans to use. This succulent is recognizable by its thick blade-shaped foliage edged in teeth. You most likely know of Aloe Vera because it is a common remedy to use the gel inside the succulent leaves to treat topical burns. Unfortunately, Aloe Vera is toxic to cats, dogs, birds, lizards, and other pets due to the saponin contained in the plant. Saponin is a naturally-occurring substance often used in detergents as an emulsifier. When ingested by a pet, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, loss of appetite, or a change in urine color.
Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)
The Snake Plant is a very common indoor succulent because it can thrive in low-light, making it ideal to grow in the home. It has wide leaves that grow straight up and taper to a point at the top. It is known for its tropical aesthetic because of the tall, striped leaves and color variations. Though it makes perfect indoor decoration, the Snake Plant is toxic to dogs, cats, and other pets because it contains saponin, an ingredient often added to make laundry detergents soapy. When ingested by a pet, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, loss of appetite, or a change in urine color.
Fiddle Leaf (Panda Plant, Philodendron bipennifolium)
The Fiddle Leaf Philodendron is a leafy, tropical succulent with show-stopping foliage. Its easy growth and low-maintenance make it an ideal houseplant to add some exotic flair to the home. However, the glossy green leaves contain insoluble calcium oxalates, a common mineral in plants. However, when ingested by pets, it will cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, or difficulty swallowing.
Jade Plant (Crassula argenta)
Jade plants are popular plants to decorate the home with due to its botanical, tree-like appearance. It has glossy green, oval-shaped leaves that look beautiful lining bookshelves, coffee tables, or front porches. The toxic element in the Jade plant is currently unknown, but when ingested by pets, it causes vomiting, lethargy, a low heart rate, and incoordination.
Kalanchoes are beautiful, soft succulents known for their showy, tropical flowers that can bloom in cold winter temperatures. They derive from the Crassulaceae family. They have wide paddle-shaped leaves that can be edged in red, have short, fuzzy hairs, or have many frilled leaf edges. Unfortunately, the Kalanchoe species contains cardiac glycosides, a naturally-occurring poison that can severely affect the heart of both pets and humans. When ingested, the toxin can cause irregular heartbeats, an elevated heart rate, labored breathing, weakness, collapse, and potentially death if left untreated.
These are just a few of the most popular succulents that are nontoxic and toxic for cats, dogs, or other pets. There are plenty of other nontoxic options out there, but, if you have pets, be sure to do some research before introducing any new succulents or cacti into your home. If you suspect your pet has consumed a succulent, try to identify the plant and contact your veterinarian or a poison control center if the plant is poisonous.
Visit Tampa Succulents’ online store to create your next beautiful succulent arrangement both you and your pets can safely enjoy!