Andrea writes on various topics, such as dating, couples, astrology, weddings, interior design, and gardens. She studied film and writing.
20 Indoor Plants That Are Safe for Birds
When it comes to collecting indoor plants, you have to be careful that your new green friend won’t cause problems for your pet. Unfortunately, there are many plants that are considered toxic to birds. If you let your bird out of their cage to explore, you’ll want to make sure they come across plants that are safe to nibble on and won’t irritate their sensitive digestive system.
I recommend double-checking that a plant is safe for your bird (or other pets) before buying it and bringing it into your home. Read from multiple sources to ascertain that the plant isn’t going to be an issue. Plants that are safe for birds aren’t necessarily safe for other pets.
One important thing to keep in mind: too much of anything can be a bad thing. You may need to redirect your bird if they’re binge eating a certain plant. . . or that plant needs to be moved to another place so it can be free from a pecking beak. Often the plant is more at risk of getting attacked than the bird is of getting sick.
The following list includes my recommendations for plants that are safe in a bird owner’s home. Many of these plants are easy to maintain and can be found at local nurseries and garden shops.
1. Dracaena Fragrans (AKA Corn Plant)
One charming addition to your household plant collection could be Dracaena fragrans. The flowering plant is native to tropical locations in Africa. It can grow up to 15 feet tall. It usually reaches a height of 6 feet inside. Birds can munch on it without having any problems.
The plant is drought tolerant. You’re supposed to mist it every few days for a humidity boost. It’s considered an air-purifying plant, so this is a big plus for those who want to clear out the pollutants in their home. This is a popular houseplant, so it should be easy to find at garden centers.
2. Easter Cactus
With red blooms and oasis vibes, the Easter cactus is sure to be a star of your plant collection. Easter cactus performs best in indirect bright light. Unlike other cacti, this one prefers cool temperatures, ideally 55-60°F.
Keep its soil slightly moist and let it dry entirely before watering again. Repot the plant every two years. The Easter cactus is considered harder to maintain than other Schlumbergera, the genus of small cacti found in southeastern Brazil. This includes Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti, which are also safe for birds.
Just remember: the plant may be safe for your bird, but the bird isn’t safe for the plant. Birds can get overly excited when it comes to consuming houseplants.
From the myrtle family, eucalyptus is one of the most appealing plants to have in a home because of its smell. Fortunately, it's a good fit for bird owners, but if you've got other pets, be cautious. It can make cats and dogs sick.
Eucalyptus can be used as a treat for parrots. They like to forage, play, and chew to get stimulated by it. The plant has anti-bacterial properties that can be beneficial to an avian's health.
The plant does well in bright light. It does even better outside. Some birds use eucalyptus for nesting. Eucalyptus branches are also okay to use as natural wood perches.
4. Bamboo (Dracaena Sanderiana)
One of the more aesthetically pleasing plants to own is safe to have around birds. Bamboo needs plenty of water and indirect sunlight. You need to clean the container it’s in every few months to prevent algae blooms.
Bamboo is associated with luck in feng shui. It is a popular gift in China for business and personal matters. The plant can be trained to form into different shapes from swirls, circles, and hearts.
It’s easy to grow in soil or water. For the longest life possible, grow bamboo in damp soil. Don’t overwater it or let it go thirsty. It loves tropical conditions, so it needs to be in a warm room of 65–95°F. Remove yellow leaves and repot the plant when its roots outgrow the container.
5. Wandering Dude
The plant has green, heart-shaped leaves with purple stripes. It has a silver sheen to it. Some people consider this plant an invasive weed. It is mentioned as unsafe for cats and dogs. On several lists, the plant is listed as safe if pet birds chew on it.
The plant needs bright, indirect light. If it doesn’t receive enough light, the leaf markings fade. It prefers slightly moist soil. Don’t directly water the crown; it will cause the plant to rot.
Make sure the plant doesn’t get too dry in winter. Leave the plant in a room with moderate to warm temperatures, ideally 50–80°F.
6. Areca Palm
A long list of palms are bird-friendly. Areca palm is one of them, which is good because it’s a popular houseplant. The plant needs to be watered weekly, and it requires high humidity. You know the plant’s in trouble if its tips are browning and the leaves are turning brown or yellow. The areca palm prefers indirect light.
Added bonus: The plant is safe around both cats and dogs. It’s also an excellent plant for clearing up toxins in the air. Palms in general are excellent at purifying the air.
Other palms that are bird safe include:
- Phoenix (Date Palm)
- Pygmy Date
- Wine Palm
7. Jade Plants
Jade plants are easy to care for and safe for your avian friends. It's important to keep the plant watered during spring and summer and drier during fall and winter. The soil should dry out completely before adding new water. Jade has a tendency to rot when it gets overwatered. Water when the top 1-2 inches of its soil is dry. (Keep soil moist but not wet.)
Jade plants need a lot of light. I suggest on a monthly basis feeding the jade plant succulent plant food. Avoid keeping this plant in rooms that get very humid, like bathrooms and the kitchen.
8. Burro's Tail
One of my favorite houseplants is safe in a household with birds. Burro's tail has charming pillow-like leaves. It's native to Mexico. It is tolerant of drought, so you only need to water it once a month or every other month. It stores water for a very long time.
The plant is popular. You can easily find it at garden stores. It's really easy to take care of, just be really careful about repotting it and avoid doing that if you can. The plant sheds a lot of leaves, but it will grow them back. The leaves can be buried in the soil; they do have a chance of propagating.
Burro's tail likes bright filtered light. They do flower, but that's rare if grown indoors.
9. Sensitive Plant
Mimosa pudica looks like a dandelion that was kissed by a fairy, leaving it with a pink blush. The plant has delicate branches and feathery fronds. It folds inward when touched in the slightest way.
I really like the idea of having these beauties in a bird owner's home. They have a certain whimsy to them that matches someone who likes to befriend birds.
The plant enjoys moderate to high humidity in warm temperatures of 65-75°F. It won't thrive outdoors unless it's in a tropical/subtropical climate.
10. Baby's Tears
The cute plant is easy to maintain. In spring and summer, the plant's soil needs to be somewhat moist. In fall and winter, cut back on watering because too much water will cause root rot. Never let the plant get completely dry.
Baby's tears prefers organic potting soil. It should be placed in a spot where it can get bright but indirect sunlight, preferably in the morning.
The creeping plant spreads. It has green or pink shoots. Its leaves can resemble moss. Keep it indoors during cold months. It doesn't like to be stepped on even though it gets used as groundcover.
11. Spider Plant
There are a lot of perks when it comes to owning a spider plant. This is one of the more pet-friendly plants.
As for care, the spider plant likes moderate moisture. Don't let them get too dry or too wet. Put them in a spot that will get moderate indirect sunlight. Spider plants will get scorched and unhappy with too much sunlight. The plant can tolerate inconsistent watering.
Bonus: The plant is effective at cleaning indoor air pollutants. It will absorb chemicals such as xylene, formaldehyde, and benzene. I highly recommend this plant for new indoor houseplant owners because it's easy to maintain, it's good for the air, and it's safe for pets (birds, cats, and dogs).
12. Zebra Plant
Zebra plant usually blooms in late summer or fall. It can be a challenge to grow indoors. It needs moisture, warmth, and food to survive. It's a slow-growing plant reaching its full height in three years. It'll grow to about two feet. You don't need to repot it.
The plant craves humidity. Water it once the soil has dried. Place the plant in shade or where it can get indirect light. It usually grows under a canopy of trees. Direct shade can prevent it from blooming. Too much sunlight will scorch its leaves. It might be tricky for new gardeners to find this plant's happy spot.
Radiator plants are safe to keep in a home with feathered friends. Peperomia is found in tropical/subtropical climates throughout the world. They thrive in Central and South America.
This is an excellent plant for someone who is new to houseplant care. It requires little attention. You only need to water it when the soil has dried. Place it in a pot with drainage holes. Orchid potting mix is ideal for it. Place the plant where it can get bright but indirect light. It needs to be watered about once every 1-2 weeks.
Though mainly grown outdoors, pittosporum can be grown in a pot inside your home. The plant can't be exposed to extreme temperatures, whether too cold or too hot. It needs low acidity and good drainage. Direct light to partial shade is preferred.
I recommend placing the plant next to a window. They can get big, so you may want to trim and/or prune it. Pittosporum viscidum's common name is "bird's nest bush," indicating it is affable to winged creatures.
The plant's new growth appears lime green, giving it a vibrant hue.
15. Gynura Aurantiaca, Purple Passion
Purple passion grows best in medium or bright light. The soil should be moist but not wet. It tolerates dryness, but it looks best with a regular water schedule. The plant has distinctive violet leaves.
The plant loves humidity. It does best in well-drained soil. Most varieties need winter protection. It's easy to maintain, and it can grow vigorously if it's not cut or held back. New growths climb and spread out, so don't put purple passion in a tiny pot. The plant will give your indoor space a tropical feel, which I think is on par with the aesthetics associated with owning a bird.
16. Button Fern
Several ferns are safe in homes with birds, including the ever-so-cute button fern. A few quick things on their care: (1) they like water, but detest being a soggy mess; (2) they love bright light and partial shade, but direct sunlight will scorch them and depress them; and (3) give them humidity, precisely 50% humidity.
Water your fern weekly, and water more often during hot days. Misting ferns is practical, and it is preferable in the morning. A temperature range of 60 to 75°F. Be careful not to touch your plant frequently, it can cause your plant to stop or slow its growth.
17. Maidenhair Fern
With a name that sounds like it came from King Arthur lore, the maidenhair fern is an elegant houseplant with drooping fronds. It has the ability to shed water without getting wet (science is wild, right?).
The plant isn't hard to grow, but you do need the right conditions. It needs warm, humid air. Mist the plant a couple of times a day. I recommend placing it near a humidifier or on top of a tray of wet pebbles. Watch out for bugs, which will suck out the juices from its leaves.
18. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a breeze to maintain. It’s safe for birds, but it is toxic to cats and dogs. The plant is safe in its natural form. Don’t start giving your bird random aloe vera gel or moisturizer or other products.
Water the plant every 2–3 weeks in the spring and summer and even more sparingly in the fall and winter. It needs a minimum of six hours of daylight every day. Without enough light, its stem may become weak. Place the plant in a pot with drainage holes. I recommend watering it from the bottom and allowing water to come up the drain holes.
19. Nerve Plant
The plant with striking leaves should be kept in a pot with a peaty commercial potting mix. They can be temperamental. They like high humidity and temperatures, preferably 70°F and above. Mist often and keep the soil moist. Whenever the soil looks a little dry, water the plant. Don't let it turn into a soggy mess, because it doesn't like that either. You have to strike the right balance, which might be tricky at first.
The leaves have vivid venation in red, white, or pink. They look compelling, and maybe even a touch threatening.
20. Hen and Chicks
One of the most versatile succulent groups is also tolerant of just about anything a gardener may mistakenly do. Hen and chicks can survive against cold conditions like frost and snow, but you might be pushing the succulents’ limits. They require very little soil. They’re perfect residents for a rock garden.
The plants are ready for purchase at most nurseries. It’s best to put them in full sun, with well-drained soil, and to water them once a week. Sandy soil is recommended. Too much water will kill the plants, so if the soil is damp… don’t water.
Even though they can tolerate the cold, they prefer a temperature of 70–75°F. If you have them outside, I recommend bringing them in before the first frost.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Andrea Lawrence