How to Keep Pets Out of Houseplants? (9 Methods)

If you’re growing plants in a house full of pets, chances are you find it challenging to drive them away from your greens. While it requires effort, stopping your curious animal friends from destroying plants is still achievable. So, how to keep pets out of houseplants?

You can spray the plants with natural scents that deter house animals, surround the pots with plants pets hate, keep houseplants out of their reach, or use bait plants to distract them. However, the best approach to preventing houseplant loss is to train your pets to stay away.

Continue reading this article to learn about nine methods to keep pets out of house plants.

1.   Make Plants Unattainable

Making plants unattainable

A simple, yet effective approach to protecting houseplants is to keep them out of pets’ reach.

Several ways can help you achieve that, including placing the pots in high locations, such as shelves and countertops. Another option is to buy tall plant stands. The farther your pet can reach, the higher you should place the plants.

You can also ceiling-mount the plants. Not only will the hanging location make the plants unattainable, but it improves the aesthetics as well.

Some houseplants like aloe vera, philodendrons, and silk pothos are toxic to pets. So, keeping your houseplants out of your house animals’ reach is crucial to protecting your pet too.

That said, if you own energetic cats that love to climb, elevating the pots may not be effective in preventing your furry buddy from accessing houseplants.

2.   Make the Plants Citrusy

Most dogs and cats hate citrus scents, which is great news. You can use orange, lemon, grapefruit, or other citrus fruits to make a pet-deterrent spray while enjoying a citrusy scent.

However, stopping your pets from approaching houseplants isn’t the only benefit of citrus fruits. Citrus extracts have insecticide properties, too! These fruits contain d-limonene, which is a natural extract that helps control houseplant pests like mealybugs and aphids.

Plus, orange, lime, and other fruit peels contain nitrogen compounds and minerals like iron, zinc, and calcium, all of which fertilize the soil. As a result, you grow healthy plants, all while repelling pets, killing insects, and enjoying a fresh scent!

Still, moderation is key. Unless the plants prefer acidic soil, too many citruses can change the soil’s neutral pH and eventually kill plants.

3.   Spice Them With Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper

As you might know, peppers contain capsaicin, a chemical that spices up hot peppers.

In general, cayenne pepper won’t harm your plants. In contrast, the spicy compound may benefit houseplants thanks to its natural pesticide effect.

Animals, on the other hand, may find the pepper powder irritating, just like humans. That’s because when exposed to capsicin through direct contact, inhalation, or ingestion, the chemical compound causes many temporary symptoms, including:

  • Teary eyes and blurry vision
  • Coughing, swelling of lung tissue, and difficulty breathing
  • Irritation of the vocal cords

All the above symptoms will make your pet think twice before approaching the spiced-up plants again.

4.   Fertilize the Soil Using Coffee

Like citrus, coffee is a good addition to the soil mix thanks to its nutrients. Coffee grounds contain nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals which support healthy plant growth.

However, unlike sour fruits, coffee grounds have a near-neutral pH (6.5 to 6.8), so you don’t have to worry about soil acidity.

What’s more, you’ll get to enjoy the fresh morning coffee smell each time you water your plants!

All the above reasons make coffee tempting, right? Well, not for your pets. Coffee ground is another scent that cats and dogs aren’t fans of.

5.   Grow Plants They Hate

Potted Rosemary

Instead of spraying your plants with scents your pets hate, why not grow plants they don’t like next to the houseplants? Better yet, plant them together to stop them from approaching the pots.

Rosemary, scaredy cat plants, and citronella are among the plants you can use as animal repellents, thanks to their odors.

That said, it’s important to make sure those animal-repellent plants are good companions before placing them next to other houseplants.

For instance, you shouldn’t group rosemary with basil. Both herbs love moisture, so it’s only natural that they’ll compete for the water. This may result in the death of one of the herbs.

Similarly, don’t place plants that prefer different environmental factors together either.

6.   Use Bait Plants

Another way to keep pets out of houseplants is to grow pet-safe plants just for them. You can also plant herbs that they like to stop them from reaching the plants you want to protect.

Rattlesnakes, ferns, and prayer plants are among the houseplants that are generally safe for cats and dogs. However, growing plants for your pets is an alternative solution, as they’ll still approach other pots.

Alternatively, grow plants that lack a pungent smell, like catnips. This herb makes a healthy plant toy for your cats since it helps in alleviating separation anxiety. Plus, small doses of catnip may help relieve digestive tract problems for both cats and dogs.

Also Check: How to Get Rid of Ants in Houseplants: The A-Z Guide

7.   Divert Their Path

If all the above methods fail to work with your stubborn pet, try distracting them from the houseplant entirely.

One way to do that is to spread mulch or soil around the houseplants. This solution is messy, but it might distract your pets. In general, cats and dogs like to roll and play in the dirt. As a result, they’ll be busy enjoying themselves, and forget all about the houseplants.

Alternatively, you can surround the houseplants with thorny barriers like roses or pet-repellent mats. Those spiky roads would discourage your little friends from stepping on them, driving your pet away from the plants.

8.   Make the Plants Unattractive

This one is for cat owners that have trouble with their furry buddy mistaking pot soil for their litter box. To prevent the houseplant-digging issue, you can cover the soil with rocks or aluminum foil so that the only accessible place they can dig is the litter box.

However, that can take away from the plant’s aesthetics—which is why people grow ornamental houseplants in the first place.

9.   Train Your Pet

Training your pet to stop playing with the houseplants on their own is probably the most effective solution. Sure, it takes a lot of patience and effort, but the results are worth it.

Redirecting your pet is one of the methods you can use to train them. If you catch your animal friend sniffing around the houseplants, pick them up and place them far away from the plants.

However, it’s important to calmly pick your pet up or call them away so that they don’t mistake approaching houseplants for playtime.

Positive reinforcement is also effective in training cats and dogs. A good trick would be: whenever your pet leaves the plants alone, try giving them a treat or praising them to encourage that behavior.

Read more: 7 Houseplants That Love Water


So, how to keep pets out of houseplants?

You can make the houseplants unattractive by spraying them with citrus fruit extracts, cayenne pepper, or even coffee grounds. All these compounds have distinctive odors that are unappealing to pets.

Other approaches include placing the pots on elevated surfaces, laying down spiny barriers around the houseplants, or growing plants specifically for your pet to play with.

However, the best way to stop the houseplant destruction issue is to prevent it from happening in the first place. To achieve that, nothing is more effective than using positive reinforcement training. That way, you can rest assured that your houseplants stay pet-free!