Popular Fall Plants: Which Ones Are Pet-Friendly?

September 23, 2020

a woman and dog outside with an aspca hoodie

As the days get shorter and the nights get chillier, it’s no surprise that we like to surround ourselves with things that bring us joy—pets and plants! But some plants aren’t suitable for our furry friends. To help keep animals safe this autumn season, our experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) have curated a list of the top 10 most popular fall plants so you can see which are pet-friendly and which you should avoid.

fall plants graphic

1. Mums (Chrysanthemum spp.) are by far the most popular flower we see during the fall, but they are considered toxic to dogs, cats and horses. If consumed, symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, incoordination and dermatitis. 

2. Red Maple (Acer rubrum) trees are sometimes the most vibrant and beautiful tress seen during  the fall season and is considered non-toxic to dogs and cats. However, these tree’s leaves are considered toxic to horses—especially when wilted. If consumed symptoms can include anemia, weakness, dark urine, difficulty breathing, abortion and possibly death. 

3. Ginkgo Trees (Ginkgo biloba) produce gorgeous yellow foliage in the fall. It is important to know that there are male and female ginkgo trees. Males are not considered toxic to pets, however the seed from the female tree contains ginkgotoxin which is toxic to our furry companions. If consumed, there is a potential for vomiting, irritability and seizures. The easiest way to tell the different sexes apart is by the fruit. The female tree’s fruit carries an incredibly unpleasant smell, which would also be nasty if your pet decided to roll in it! 

4. Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum) can add a great deal of height to your flower gardens, are beautiful when they bloom, and are considered non-toxic to pets. Feel at ease with these in your yard! 

5. ‘Karl Foerster’ Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora) is great grass to grow in your yard and provides a beautiful bloom. But watch out, because while non-toxic, this plant does have sharp points that could scratch your pets. 

6. Asters (Callistephus chinensis) are a great fall flower and are usually sold around the same time you can pick up your mums. Luckily, these plants are not considered toxic to dogs, cats or horses. 

7. Rayless Goldenrod (Haplopappus heterophyllus) is a yellow beauty that isn’t considered toxic to dogs and cats, but it is considered toxic to horses. Horses eating one to ten percent of their body weight in the plant can develop lethal clinical effects. Onset of signs can occur after two days or up to three weeks and includes: incoordination, muscle weakness and tremors, elevated heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, fluid accumulation and swelling of the nervous system, profuse sweating and inability to swallow. 

8. Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) is a great fall plant. And thankfully, these pretty, purple plants are not considered toxic to pets. 

9. Caryopteris (Caryopteris clandonensis) is not considered toxic to pets and is another gorgeous purple plant you can add in with your traditional fall colors. 

10. Pansies (Viola tricolor var. hortensis) are not considered toxic to pets and bring gorgeous fall colors to your yard. They are great to have around and can even live through a little frost. 

While considered “not toxic”, all plant material consumed by pets may cause mild gastrointestinal problems, so it’s best to try and prevent them from consuming plants in or around your home

If you suspect your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances or potentially toxic plants, contact your veterinarian or call APCC at (888) 426-4435 immediately. You can also see APCC’s full list of toxic plants for more information.