What kind of ivy is safe for cats?

Answered by Phillip Nicastro

When it comes to choosing a safe ivy plant for your furry friends, the Swedish Ivy is a great option. It is important to ensure that you are indeed purchasing a Swedish Ivy, as other types of ivy, like Devil’s Ivy (Pothos), can be toxic to pets.

Swedish Ivy, also known as Plectranthus australis, is a popular houseplant due to its attractive trailing vines and vibrant green leaves. It is native to South Africa and belongs to the mint family. This plant is not only safe for cats but also relatively easy to care for, making it a perfect addition to any pet-friendly household.

Here are some features and care tips for Swedish Ivy:

1. Pet Safety: Swedish Ivy is non-toxic to cats and dogs, so you can have peace of mind knowing that your furry friends will be safe around this plant. However, it is always a good idea to monitor your pets’ behavior around any houseplants and discourage them from nibbling on the leaves.

2. Appearance: Swedish Ivy has soft, velvety leaves that are typically deep green in color. The leaves are slightly scalloped and have a glossy texture, adding a touch of elegance to any space. The plant produces small, tubular flowers in shades of white, lavender, or pink, which can provide additional visual interest.

3. Lighting: Swedish Ivy prefers bright, indirect light but can tolerate lower light conditions as well. Avoid placing it in direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves. A location near a north or east-facing window with filtered light is ideal.

4. Temperature and Humidity: This plant prefers average room temperatures between 60-75°F (15-24°C). It can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures but should be protected from drafts. Swedish Ivy appreciates higher humidity levels, so misting the leaves occasionally or using a humidifier can be beneficial, especially during dry winter months.

5. Watering: Swedish Ivy prefers evenly moist soil, but it is crucial to avoid overwatering. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Ensure the pot has drainage holes to prevent water from sitting in the bottom. During the winter months, reduce watering frequency to prevent root rot.

6. Fertilizing: You can feed Swedish Ivy with a balanced, water-soluble houseplant fertilizer every four to six weeks during the growing season (spring and summer). Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package for the appropriate dosage.

7. Pruning and Propagation: Regular pruning helps maintain a compact and bushy shape. Pinch back the growing tips to encourage branching and remove any leggy or yellowing stems. Swedish Ivy is easy to propagate through stem cuttings. Simply take a 4-6 inch cutting, remove the lower leaves, and place it in a moist potting mix. Keep the cutting warm and moist, and roots should form within a few weeks.

When looking for a cat-safe ivy plant, the Swedish Ivy is a fantastic choice. Its non-toxic nature, attractive appearance, and easy care requirements make it a popular option for pet owners. Just remember to provide it with proper lighting, water it correctly, and give it some occasional pruning to keep it thriving. Your cats and your Swedish Ivy can coexist happily in your home.