February 13, 2022 4:20 pm

Beverly

Are Air Plants Poisonous plants?

We often get asked if Air Plants are poisonous plants. Most enquiries relate to whether air plants are toxic to pets like cats or dogs. If you are going to have plants around your home you obviously want to make sure that they are not going to be harmful to any much-loved animal friends.

Cats and dogs in particular can get playful and mistake an air plant for a new object to play with. Young animals learn about the world around them through play. Due to their size and lack of pot and soil, they are easy targets for inquisitive pets.

Cat


Are Air Plants Toxic to Pets?

The good news is that air plants, all 600 species of them are non-toxic to animals if they get accidentally chewed or even digested. While it’s best to avoid this, it is good to know that it will not be a life-threatening accident and hopefully any expensive trips to the vet can be avoided.

Vet

However, we would recommend keeping air plants out of reach of your pets. Any plant can still give an unsuspecting pet stomach ache. There can also still be the risk of choking. Veterinary advice should be sought if there is any sign that their airways are being obstructed, if they are having problems breathing or if they are not behaving as they normally would.

Some air plants can be quite spikey and so could do damage with the sharp tips. We would recommend keeping these air plants out of reach to avoid any unwanted attention.


Damage to the plant

So your pet has gotten hold of your air plant and the plant is looking worse for wear. The pet is fine but is the air plant going to survive? Here are some tips to give the plant the best chance of survival.

  • Assess how much damage has been done to the plant. If most of the leaves and base are intact then it may have a chance of surviving. The base has the function of holding the plant together and the leaves are essential for photosynthesis and absorbing moisture and nutrients. If too many leaves have been damaged then the plant may not be able to carry out it’s vital functions.
  • Trim off any damaged-beyond-repair leaves with some scissors or gardening shears and assess how many functioning leaves are left. With the right care your plant may have a chance to carry on living.
  • Next give your plant the appropriate care routine of water and fertiliser to give it everything it needs to grow and regenerate. See our air plant care page for optimum care tips.
  • It would also be advisable to move the plant to a different place out of reach of the inquisitive pets.
  • Be patient with your plant. Air plants are slow growing and the results of your care may only be evident in a few weeks or months.

If the plant does not survive your attempts at nursing it back to health, you will notice that it will be dry and shrivelled and likely fall apart. We hope this does not happen to you!

Trio of airplants


Pet and air plant recommended combinations

There are some instances when mixing pets and air plants is actually recommended. A perfect example of this is with exotic pets that live in a vivarium.

Water dragon

Okay so what is a vivarium? A dictionary definition is along the lines of: an enclosure or container adapted for keeping animals under semi-natural conditions for study or as pets.

Animals which people tend to keep in vivariums are reptiles, such as frogs, lizards, geckos chameleons and snakes. Creating an environment which looks as natural as possible enhances the quality of life of the animal in the container. This may help the creative blend in or camouflage, hide as they would do in the wild or create a nest for sleeping.

In addition to rocks, moss, bark, branches and pebbles; air plants make attractive additions to a vivarium environment. 

Below is an Instagram post from one of our customers with a Tillandsia Xerographica in their tropical frog vivarium. Beautiful!


These types of pets will not view the air plant as food, it will just be part of the environment they live in.

The air plant will still need to be removed to adhere to a good care routine.

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