Healthy rewards from small spaces
One of the responses I often hear from customers at our market booth when discussing indoor plants is “I can't have house plants because I have a cat”. I totally sympathize with this statement because as an owner of two active dark tabby cats, I understand how curious and playful cats can be and house plants seem to be their playground. Read on to discover some simple tips to keep plants away from curious cats.
When we moved to our country home three years ago, I avoided any house plants for two years and focused on creating outdoor gardens because of the cats. But the thought of another long, cold winter here in Michigan with no foliage around me was just too depressing to visualize for another season, so last fall I brought in a few potted garden plants. My favorite rosemary and bay tree were in large 3 gallon pots, so I thought if I placed the plants on a small end table up off the floor, the cats would ignore it, but I was wrong. Within a few days my six toed tabby used her giant paws to dig around the dirt, spilling the black soil onto the carpet. I was determined to defeat her will.
Cover up loose potting soil around houseplants
I know cats have a natural tendency to dig in litter and sand, so I wondered if I took away their exposure to loose dirt in plant containers they would lose interest in the plant. I found some preserved sheet moss in my workroom and arranged the moss on top of the soil. Then I place a few larger garden ornaments and a decorative stone in the pot (nothing dangling of course). This seemed to work to divert their attention away from the plant. One tip I can pass forward when using preserved sheet moss is to water the plant underneath the moss. This way the water goes directly to the root system. I've had bad experiences keeping preserved moss wet without good air circulation in the room and having mold grow on the surface of the moss.
I also noticed my cats don't seem to like gravel, so to top cover my bay tree, I used decorative river stones. So far, they have showed no interest in the rosemary (perhaps also because of the strong scent of the leaves). The stones will allow water to filter down to the roots and keep the loose soil covered. I also found if I use larger garden decorations in the planter that are more difficult for a cat to push around with their paws, the cats will not show much interest.
A hanging terrarium could be a solution to deterring a curious cat.
Our best-selling item this year at our spring market booth is hanging glass terrariums with small succulents or air plants. By using a hanging cord, you can hang the terrarium on a ceiling hook or wall hook in an area where cats don't have items they can use to easily access the plant, such as tables or furniture pieces. These tiny mini gardens require minimal care and if they are hung at eye level, they can be easily enjoyed when entering a room.
A nostalgic return of the macramé plant hanger.
Another spring trend for displaying plants away from cat paws is to use a macramé plant hanger. Once again, you can use a ceiling hook and adjust the height of the plant to a level where you cat will ignore the plant. Macramé plant hangers can be sleek and simple with a few basic knots using natural jute or hemp cord, or try using bulky yarn or colorful parachute cord. I make a few simple macramé hangers to sell at our market booth which can hold small planters, glass terrariums, or natural bell cups that have been dyed or painted which look attractive with air plants.
Get your cat their own plant
Outdoor cats have the luxury of romping in the yard grass or nibbling on a few tasty herbs or landscape plants. Indoor cats still have that same urge to be close to nature, so give you cat an "authorized" plant they can enjoy without any scolding.
Catgrass is a pet favorite and is sold in most pet stores. This is a pricey retail item that can easily be grown at home by a window in about 14 days.
Here is a list of plants that cats will fancy:
For indoor plants, use a sturdy shallow container that you won't mind having your cat crawl in or walk around and place in a location where you won't mind a little mess.
By taking a few simple precautions to keep house plants away from the curious gaze of a playful cat, you can enjoy the benefits of having plants inside the home year-round.
Hello gardeners. We are James LeValley and Cathy LeValley, owners of New Earth Micro Farm and passionate gardeners of fast and easy growing using small spaces. Waiting 3 or 4 months for a vegetable to grow - not for us. Growing micro and mini vegetables in 10 to 60 days provides a quick turnaround to support organic growing methods for greater nutrition.