When we plan our gardens, we have a tendency to make choices based on a plant’s colour, texture, habit and flowering season. But it would make sense to add our beloved pets into the equation. After all, although there are some plants that will actually be of use to, or enjoyed by, our pets, there are many more that can prove harmful and, in a few cases, fatal.
Whether you have cats, dogs, rabbits or guinea pigs, a pet’s freedom to roam, rest and play safely and happily in the garden – or at least an allocated part of it – is something to always consider when choosing plants.
This is a guide to some of the plants you should grow in your garden (See dangerous plants to pets for a list of plants you shouldn’t grow for your pets). Remember that whatever you grow you’ll still need to keep an eye on your pets. If you have any doubts about anything in your garden and how your pet may react to it, don’t hesitate to ask a vet.
More pet-friendly gardening advice:
Discover more about pet-friendly plants to grow.
Plants to grow
There are some great, garden-worthy plants that also have a distinct appeal to our pets, providing them with somewhere to snooze or play. There are even a few that seem to be actively beneficial to their health and diet. This is not an exhaustive list, and always bear in mind that individual animals vary greatly in how they react to various plants. It’s also important to remember that what’s good for one animal could be dangerous to another.
Catmint (Nepeta cataria)
Nepeta at the front of a border
Pet benefits:The essential oils in the leaves make cats feel very relaxed.
Features: Pretty purple flowers and hummocks of aromatic foliage.
Good for: Cats.
Cat amongst grass
Pet benefits: Pets love to nibble it – it helps cats to cough up hairballs and can settle dogs’ stomachs.
Features: Apart from its environmental benefits, a real, live, growing lawn provides a great green surface and a foil for plants.
Good for: Cats and dogs.
Hedge of lavender ‘Hidcote’
Pet benefits: Animals love to hide and shelter among its scented flowers. Cats and rabbits like to nibble it.
Features: Beautiful purple, pink or white flowers and an abundance of silery-grey aromatic foliage.
Good for: Cats and rabbits.
Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus)
Nasturtium ‘Kiki’s Kiss’
Pet benefits: Rabbits enjoy eating both the flowers and foliage – grow lots so your display isn’t ruined.
Features: Trailing plant with bright orange, red, burgundy or yellow flowers. Good for drawing blackfly away from veg.
Good for: Rabbits.
Ornamental sedges (Carex species)
Carex ‘Evergold’ foliage
Pet benefits: Dogs enjoy sitting in the soft mounds.
Features: A wonderfully structural and textural plant, visually striking.
Good for: Dogs.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Pet benefits: Cats love the aroma, has a similar sedative effect to catmint.
Features: Tall clusters of white-to-pink flowers above aromatic leaves.
Good for: Cats.