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HOUSEPLANT TIPS & TRICKS: Calathea - Safe With Pets

By Karen England for Let's Talk Plants! February 2022.

Karen England
My used bookstore January Houseplant book haul.

Back at the end of the year, I posted the photo below on Instagram with the following caption:

"Some houseplants can be toxic to pets if eaten. Calathea is safe for cats, dogs and horses if eaten but amaryllis is not. I have both growing in my home and I watch Whiskey Kitty very carefully to make sure she’s not nibbling anything that could make her sick. If she were to nosh a baddie for pets plant, I will remove it. Just because a plant is toxic doesn’t mean you can’t have it inside a home with pets. Many pets are naturally not attracted to plants that could make them sick, but be aware, since some goofballs will eat anything. Know your plants. Know your pets."

To learn more about growing Calatheas in your home, whether or not you have pets, check out

My cat loves to sit in the window above my calathea and amaryllis, next to my Ficus maclelandii.

That Instagram post created quite a lively discussion and solidified my desire to add an indoor gardening column to our monthly newsletter and you are reading the inaugural article. But for me to be able to write this column intelligently, since I only have a few houseplants successfully growing in my home, I purchased three books at the used bookstore recently to help me become a better indoor gardener and in turn help all of you to achieve houseplant success. (If there are any houseplant gurus among us who would like to write this column instead of me please send us an email with "houseplant column" in the subject line and I'll get right back to you!)

How To Make A Plant Love You; Cultivate Green Space in Your Home and Heart by Summer Rayne Oakes, Optimism Press, 2019.

Houseplants For Beginners; A Practical Guide to Choosing, Growing and Helping Your Plants Thrive by Rebecca De La Paz, Rockridge Press, 2021.

Decorating With Plants; What to Choose, Ways to Style, and How to Make Them Thrive by Baylor Chapman, Artisan, New York, 2019.

Because of the pandemic, gardening in general as an activity grew by leaps and bounds and, as it turns out, being in lock-down the world over for so long only meant that the gardening uptick took an indoor upswing as well.

All over Instagram IG'rs are posting photos of their beloved houseplants. My hands down favorite is a ginormous Elephant Ear houseplant named Hannibal, that likes listening to "Bootsy Collins" records and is owned by the incredible artist Cedric Smith. I started following @cedricsmithstudio because of his art, but I would have followed him just for the plants had I known.


Karen England
Karen even has books she's contributed content to for sale on her website

Karen England panics if she doesn't have a book near her at all times, even outside. Just recently she bought yet another vintage oak bookcase for her home at an estate sale, telling herself it will make a nice houseplant stand...


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