tall, cat-safe indoor plants?
December 9, 2009 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Wanted: recommendations for tall, indoor, cat-safe plants/trees. Superior, NASA-approved air-filtering and oxygen-producing properties are a plus.

I've looked the previous askme and have seen the ASPCA list of cat-safe plants, as well as a helpful post on Apartment Therapy (last comment the page), which has some good prospects. But perhaps there are some others.

I'm looking for an indoor floor plant that's more tree-like than bush/shrub like -- maybe five feet tall, or so. It can't be toxic to cats, and being exceptional in the air-filtering department would be nice. Any recommendations?
posted by sentient to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I love, love, love my braided ficus tree, which I have had for 15 years. Per the ASPCA list, it isn't toxic to cats.
posted by bearwife at 3:10 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: When I search for ficus, I get these...


...but they're all listed as toxic. Is it a different kind?

A ficus does seem ideal in terms of form, though.
posted by sentient at 3:23 PM on December 9, 2009

Response by poster: er, links: 1 2 3
posted by sentient at 3:24 PM on December 9, 2009

Best answer: Areca palm? Apparently they like humidity, so might not be best if you're in a cool climate.
posted by exogenous at 3:49 PM on December 9, 2009

Best answer: I'd recommend the fiddle-leaf fig, F. lyrata, vs. the benjamina (the one you see most often). There's ample disagreement out there about just how toxic the fig family is. Really, we're talking about a minor dermatitis reaction v. what you might get from the Lily or Aroid family (calcium oxalate crystals). Unless your cat is going to claw the trunk and lick the sap (they aren't - it's not yummy), or make a salad out of the foliage and plow in, I wouldn't be overly worried. I've had cats & ficus for years, and nobody's died yet. Worst problem you're likely to have is the cats using the pot for a litter pan, in my experience.

Another option is the False Aralia, pretty well acknowledged to be non-toxic.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:52 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oops, as I started to research this I realized weeping fig is another word for ficus. Many apologies. They are really pretty but apparently not pet friendly.
posted by bearwife at 4:23 PM on December 9, 2009

Superior, NASA-approved air-filtering and oxygen-producing properties are a plus.

Plant life processes are very slow. The amount of air processing that a small plant (i.e. not as big as a full grown pine tree) can do is close to negligible compared to the amount of air degradation that you do per unit time.

Look at it this way: you can use up in 8 hours all the energy that a carrot plant can create and store in a full growing season. The same thing goes for house plants and your air.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:11 PM on December 9, 2009

Best answer: Try papyrus. Bonus - unless the cat likes wet earth it won't be that keen on it. Extra bonus - it grows really fast and tall and looks fabulously exotic.
posted by tellurian at 7:47 PM on December 9, 2009

Response by poster: Some good ideas here, and more are always welcome! Thanks, all.
posted by sentient at 7:23 AM on December 10, 2009

Not a tree, but your post made me wonder if you couldn't plant spider plants in the dirt of a potted tree. That way the cats would just eat the spider plants and, one hopes, leave the tree alone. And spider plants are good at purifying air.

I may try this just to stop my one cat from peeing in the soil of my coffee tree...
posted by bink at 7:31 AM on December 10, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone!

I'll check some of these out at the local plant store -- it's somewhat hard to tell what they look like in the wild (where wild means "someone's livingroom"), and how tree-like they can get, based on image searches.

Hmm. In looking for pictures of the mentioned plants, I came across the cover of The Complete Houseplant Handbook. I really like the rightmost plant. I need to figure out what that is.
posted by sentient at 11:45 AM on January 2, 2010

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