10 Pet Safe Plants to Add Color to Your Yard

Having a pet doesn’t mean you need to keep a bare yard. Here are some colorful flowers that won’t send your furry friend to the vet.

Apr 7, 2024By Maya Keith
pet safe plants to add color to your yard

Being an animal lover doesn’t mean you need to give up your love of plants. In fact, the two can easily go hand in hand with a bit of planning and research.

The idea of bringing something toxic to your pet into your home is mortifying, but there are plenty of plants that pose no threat to your well-loved companions. Unfortunately, most recommendation lists only include lemongrass or other greenery.

Keep reading to discover 10 colorful plants you can add to your landscape without irritating your furry housemates.


Calendula officinalis
Image Credit: Ermell, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Calendula flowers smell pleasant, but they also share healing properties (to those skilled in this area). You’ll commonly see them as an ingredient in natural treatments for a variety of skin issues. Because of their gentle scent, calendula flowers show up often in skin care products as well.

Even if you’re not medicinally inclined, these self-seeding blooms are great for attracting pollinators. You can even add them to your own salads. They won’t bother curious pets who nibble on their sunshine-colored petals.


Landseer Newfoudland in Sunflowers
Image Credit: Reba Spike, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunflowers come in plenty of colors and sizes, making them an easy addition for most yards. Most grow on strong, tall stalks and work well alongside fences, as statement pieces, or to add contrasting height to other features in your garden.

While they’re annuals, they self-sow easily. You can leave the seeds to mature over the fall, and, as long as they’re not all snatched up by birds, they should shoot up the following growing season.


castle pink celosia
Image Credit: David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Celosia, also known as Cockscomb, is a bright bloom that can function as a perennial if you live where it's warm. This pet-safe bloom is also a favorite of many pollinators, including butterflies, and it performs well in areas prone to drought.

While it’s relatively low-maintenance, it can be harder to grow from seed. If you’re so inclined (and like the taste of spinach), you can even eat the young flower spikes. Many use it as a fresh additive to salads or a decorative steamed side dish.


Antirrhinum majus colorful snapdragons
Image Credit: Lazaregagnidze, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While they’re not exactly the same, Snapdragons are a great pet-safe alternative for those who want the clustered bell shaped of Foxglove. Snapdragons come in a variety of colors, from white to yellow and reddish hues.

These tall flowering plants are a great addition to impromptu floral arrangements and bring depth to any garden. While they’re usually annuals, snapdragons are easy enough to grow from seed with plenty of sun


French marigold Tagetes patula
Image Credit: George Chernilevsky, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Want to bring more pollinators to your yard? Consider adding sweet-smelling flowers like marigolds. They not only attract beneficial insects but work hard as a natural deterrent for beetles or other unwanted visitors. While they aren’t the only solution, planting flowers like marigolds pushes off the consequences of a world without bees.

While most marigolds feature a sun-like color, they come in a variety of colors and sizes. They bloom as annuals, but collecting marigold seeds for next year is easier than with other plants.

Purple Basil and Creeping Thyme

Thymus serpyllum with bee
Image Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you prefer more functional plants, consider adding a colorful herb like purple basil or creeping thyme (pictured). Small animals like rabbits may even enjoy this splash of color in their daily salads.

With the right yard care plan, you can harvest them as needed and leave the rest to decorate your lawn.

Purple basil grows once the threat of frost is gone, but it only lasts until the first frost shows up. Otherwise, it only needs plenty of water and full sun to thrive.

Creeping thyme, on the other hand, does fine in low-water low-sun conditions. Both serve well as ground cover, creating a pigmented foundation for other plants to grow over.


Myosoti forget me nots
Image Credit: jacilluch, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Forget-me-nots symbolize fidelity, faithfulness, and remembrance. They’re commonly a part of memorial gardens, and can represent furry friends who no longer walk with us.

These self-seeding perennials bloom early, regardless of the sun or shade. Unfortunately, these low-maintenance flowers have a short blooming season (until we meet again).

Like purple basil and creeping thyme, they’re the perfect choice for ground cover and can even replace grass or weeds in your yard.


Centaurea cyanus cornflower bee
Image Credit: tdlucas5000 from Lakewood Ca., United States,CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as Bachelor’s Buttons, cornflowers are accomplished self-seeding annuals that are easy to move around. Dried cornflowers also have plenty of medicinal properties. These flowers have a place in Greek mythology, where the centaur Chiron is said to have used them to heal wounds.

Bees and ladybugs love these drought-tolerant blooms. While they may attract aphids, the ladybugs are more than happy to take care of that problem for you.

Otherwise, cornflowers are hardy and make great lawn ornaments, cuttings, and pressed flower decorations.


hanging fuschias
Image Credit: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If blue-petalled blooms aren’t your thing, consider bright pink and purple fuchsias. As one of the more delicate blooms on this list, they’re normally recommended for mild or temperate climates like those in the Pacific Northwest.

If your region allows you to enjoy them, fuchsias make great additions as they drape from hanging baskets. They bloom in late spring and last through the late fall, and attract fauna like hummingbirds for your entertainment.


pink camellia
Image Credit: Flynn3013, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If your climate zone makes planting fuchsias impossible, consider adding some camellia shrubs to your yard. They’re more popular in southern states like Alabama, where they’re the state flower, and prefer partial sun.

Camellias bloom in the late fall, meaning your hard work to establish them pays off when other flowers are usually taking a break. Once you get them rooted, these evergreen shrubs usually come back without an issue.

The best part? They’re not only pet-safe but deer resistant (unlike similar flowering shrubs).

Maya Keith
By Maya Keith

Maya is a lifelong animal lover. While she switched from studying veterinary medicine to English, she continues to help by fostering animals in her community. Her permanent residents include 3 dogs, 2 cats, 5 quail, 19 chickens, and a small colony of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.