Non-Toxic plants for pet gardens

ginamarina(z4/5 WI)March 14, 2007

I think I'm in the right forum. Midwest sounded familiar, but Wisconsin is in that "Great Lakes" area, so I'll plant a foot here. :-)

Last autumn I put up a Purr-Fect fence for my cat Buddy, in honor of our beloved Priscilla whom we lost last year. Within this cat-proof fence is my 16x16 deck, and about 1100 square feet of what is now a mess of grass, wood chips, and mud - with some branches and logs interspersed so Buddy has something to do out there besides sit on the deck rail.

I wish one of these seed companies would come out with a non-toxic catalog of stuff for our area, because I've googled "toxic plants cats" or "pets" many times and I get mixed results. Sometimes I find the same flower on both lists, today I can't find one listing of the maiden grass or fountain grass I just saw at Menards.

There is lots to do this spring to make this little garden come alive, I'm excited, I have lots of stepping stones, bricks, and logs. But so far the plants have been frustrating. A magnolia bush is safe.

so far I have hostas, catnip, peppermint, and astilbe to transplant in there. Bulbs are out, except muscari.

one of the many lists is linked below.

Does anyone have some ideas for me? I don't want to have to mow, so a type of grass or groundcover that stays low would be ideal. Most of the herb-garden plants are ok. Zinnias, Snapdragons and Marigolds. I'd rather have perennials or at least something that re-seeds.

These lists just cover so many plants I've never heard of, probably because they don't grow here, and some of them are house plants. I know strawberry plants are safe, so I am going to have plenty of strawberry pots and beds! :)

Any input would really be appreciated. This project is taking priority over my veggie garden this year.


Here is a link that might be useful: here is ASPCA's list of non-toxic plants:

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Is the area sun or shade? I looked at the list and it was not much help because of the common names. When I see the name "Frosty," all I can think of is a dessert from Wendy's! This is where botanical names are so important. That said, I can recommend a nice little groundcover, the labrador violet (Viola labradorica). Violets are edible, and this one blooms both Spring and Fall, has tiny purple flowers and purple to dark purplish green foliage. It spreads but not agressively. For more ideas, you could look for lists of plants for child-friendly gardens. If a toddler can eat it, a cat probably can too.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 12:34PM
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You probably already know this, but I never waste an opportunity to say that lillies, including the indoor easter lilly plant, are lethal to cats, even a lick can cause liver and renal failure. They're to cats what the angel of death mushroom (amanita) is to humans. Cats have a very different metabolism from us, so I wouldn't assume that a plant safe for a child is safe for a kitty.

Cheers! Is

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 1:16PM
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ginamarina(z4/5 WI)

Thank you both. I'm glad than hostas aren't on the poison list, but I'll need to get some different varieties. I found that "climbing snapdragons" and "climbing lazy susans" are ok, but they aren't actually snapdragons or lazy susans... so I'll have to go to a nursery and find some. Since sweet peas are off the list, I want to find something else that will trail the fence in places. So far I have seeds for Cleome, Bachelors Buttons, Echinacea (not Rudbeckia apparently), Coleus, Cosmos, Spearmint, Alyssum, and Dill. Not that I feel like planting all of these indoors :) I also have astilbes and Achillea which are struggling to grow along my foundation, so I'm sure they'll find relief away from the too-drained soil. I'm removing my rhubarb from there as well, but not to the cat enclosure. I bought a Buddlea (sp?) butterfly bush that's supposed to be non toxic, and I ordered some Queen of the Prairie to shelter the view from the road. I also want to plant lots of strawberries.

I hope this turns out. I'd like to use some round-up to get rid of the grass before planting, but I'll have to keep the cats away for a couple of days I'd assume.

:-) First we have to get the temp up over 50 again!


    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 3:06PM
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Hi - we have a very large enclosure for our kitties too. Don't use roundup to get rid of grass! Use overlapping newspaper (i use at least 3 sheets thick) covered with soil (used kitty litter, worm castings and compost makes great garden beds) and if you get grass coming through this get rid of it by painting it with a mixture of salt and brown vinegar. This won't work on ivy or periwinkle but it's fabulous for grass, dandelions and other weeds.
Purry regards
Christine *->

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 7:40PM
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ginamarina(z4/5 WI)

I grew LOTS of strawberries :) It's amazing how nice they grow when you water them daily... I've never had good luck until this past year. I transplanted my roses to the cat garden as well, and they do much better with the attention. Also I planted a nice row of sunflowers, and the "climbing lazy susans".

Unfortunately since I originally posted this thread I lost my beloved Buddy, Priscilla's and my best boy. Nearly a year ago, actually. :-( So now the garden is in honor of them both. I am glad that Budbud got to enjoy his area outside in 2007. I missed him so much this summer.

I'm going to transplant some cinnamon ferns this coming spring. I made the mistake of buying hosta *seeds* not realizing that they must take about 10 years to look like a hosta! I kept a couple going for about a year, they were about 2" tall... and I missed a watering and killed them both. So I will probably be shopping for different kinds of hostas next spring too. I also did my best at carpeting the area around the rose bushes with creeping phlox. Hopefully that will grow in nicely.

I have an Eastern Redbud planted in the center, and I may plant some staghorn sumac inside or outside of the fence for privacy from the road. I have not used Roundup, but the weeds that come up where the fence meets the ground are just beastly. I can't keep that area down. If it were anywhere else I'd have sprayed a nice line of Roundup all the way along!!! The newspaper works wonders for inside. I even got a freecycled reel mower to take care of the center patch of grass.

I'd recommend this fenced-in area for anyone who has cats. Everyone here just loves it, and I know I'd never use my deck this much if it weren't for the furry company. The only thing I miss is winter bird feeding... need to start that up again in the front somewhere :)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 8:34PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

You might try corn gluten meal, as a grass killer. Lay it early as a pre-emergent, and reapply if you get sprouts. Not supposed to be poison for animals or birds, since it is almost regular corn meal.

Garden sounds interesting, lots of fun for the cats. Geraniums might be of interest, not poison. They come in many sizes of tiny to large. Huge selection in flower colors, scented leaves and leaf shapes. Apple, rose, lemon, orange are scents that I have smelled. Put them where you will brush against them to release the scent. Bloom almost all the time in full sun. Pergoliam is the Latin, I think, which they might be listed under. They were real popular in Colonial times for scented leaves used in potpourri, flavoring food. Mine are floral, but the cat here does enjoy biting the leaves at times, sitting in front of the french doors in the sun. She also likes the Rosemary plant topiary!

Nasturtiams are edible though not my favorite flower on food. Kind of a peppery taste when we ate them in a salad. Flowers are pretty, bright colors, like the sun. Martha Stewart sold seeds for a climbing variety, but mine missed the fence, just crawled around. Foliage is cute too, round leaves.

Chrysanthemums are edible, very popular in Asian food. Japanese or Chinese, can't remember. They sprinkle the petals in soup, salads. Should be OK for a cat to chew on. Many shapes, heights, colors to choose from. They flower better with pinching tips back until 4th of July. You get more blooms on sturdy, shorter stems. They are perennials, can return each spring. Mine tend to be shorter lived, but other folks plants live for long times.

Two of the flowers I named are annuals. Geraniums can be saved as plants over winter, dry in the dark basement or potted in front of windows over winter. Nasturtiams are available by seed in spring or you might be able to save seeds from this years plants.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 8:59PM
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