To some people, nothing makes a home a home without plants. The beauty of nurturing a plant and watching it grow into lush, full foliage gives one a sense of accomplishment. For others, nothing makes a home more welcoming than pets. The companionship and physical interaction helps to soothe nerves and create a sense of well being. But what happens when you want to have plants and pets? Somehow the zen environment is exchanged for worries about chewed leaves, puppies mistakenly marking your favorite palm tree or kitty getting into a boxing match with the vine you nourished from seedling. Not to worry. With a little creativity and patience, you can enjoy your home with healthy plants and healthy pets.
- Hang plants when possible. Many people set pots on top of entertainment centers or tables. Unfortunately that creates the perfect climbing and jungle play area for your kitty. Not only do they love to climb, but they'll especially enjoy stalking through, swatting and rubbing against that plant. By hanging plants from the ceiling away from ledges when possible, kitty won't be as inclined to bother with it.
- For larger plants on the floor, try setting an empty pot on fly paper or poster board with clear packing tape (adhesive side UP). Make sure there is at least 8 inches of adhesive showing all around the pot. Your pooch or feline friend will soon learn that getting too close to the pot can get them in a sticky situation. Once they stop approaching the pot, replant your foliage and keep it on the adhesive board/fly paper until you're certain your pets won't bother it.
- A spray bottle with water is a great way to deter your furry friends from plants (or any other area off limits. Simply set the nozzle on the “stream” setting and spray your pet when they approach the plant. Once again, it takes a little time depending on the animal but eventually they do learn that plants are not theirs to play with.
- Planting among cacti can also be a great way to keep pets out of your houseplants. For floor plants, place your potted plant on a much larger draining tray at least twice as big in diameter as the base of the pot. Add decorative rock. Then place very small pots (with their own small and properly fitted draining trays) with cacti in the rock. Your larger plant can drain without drowning the cacti. Pets may come around to check out the new plant, but when they learn the cacti are not pleasant, they will avoid them.
- Due to a heightened sense of hearing, most dogs (and cats too for that matter) do not like the sound of pennies/pebbles in a can. Keep the can with several pennies or small rocks close by. When your pet approaches the plant shake the can loudly and firmly say “NO!” You may have to do this several times, perhaps for a week, but your pet will eventually make the connection between an unpleasant experience and the plant.
- For larger areas such as flowerbeds and trellises, green pet netting is an excellent way to keep pets out of garden areas. The rolled netting is barely visible and easy to install. It is available at many home improvement stores and nurseries. It can even be used to keep cats from jumping back fences and walls. Your neighbors will love you.
- Planting herbs with scents that dogs and cats do not like, is an excellent way to deter them. Lemongrass, peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus and mustard are some herbs that have a reputation for offending your puppy or kitty's sensitive sniffer. Simply plant them in the same pot if possible. The scent will repel your pet from the plant. Coffee grounds/beans are also said to have the same effect. If you don't want to actually grow the herbs, dabbing the pots with the essential oils is also effective. Just be sure to dab in areas where your pet can't lick (just in case). For outdoor gardens, planting peppermint among flowers can help deter pets from trampling your beautiful garden.
Keeping pets out of plants is a great way to enjoy the company of your four legged friends and still have the beauty of plants around. By learning what works best for your furry friend, you can help him understand boundaries while still providing a loving environment.