Updated: July 2, 2023


As pet owners, we always strive to create a safe and healthy environment for our furry friends. This includes being mindful of the plants we choose to have in our homes. One popular houseplant that many pet owners love is the Tradescantia plant. Its vibrant colors and easy care make it a desirable addition to any home. However, it is vital to assess whether this plant is safe for our pets before introducing it into our living spaces.

What is Tradescantia?

Tradescantia, also known as spiderwort or wandering jew, is a genus of plants within the family Commelinaceae. These plants are native to North and South America and are known for their attractive foliage. Tradescantia plants are often grown indoors as houseplants due to their low maintenance requirements and ability to thrive in various light conditions.

Potential Risks for Pets

While Tradescantia plants may be aesthetically pleasing, they do pose some potential risks to our pets. The most significant concern with these plants is their potential toxicity when ingested by cats, dogs, or other household pets. The leaves and stems of Tradescantia plants contain certain compounds that can cause adverse reactions if consumed in large quantities.

Toxicity Issues

The primary toxic component found in Tradescantia plants is oxalates. Oxalates are crystals that can cause irritation and inflammation of the mouth, tongue, and throat when ingested. Symptoms of oxalate poisoning in pets include drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and oral pain.

Additionally, some pets may have an allergic reaction to the sap of Tradescantia plants when it comes into contact with their skin. This can cause skin irritation, redness, and itching.

Pet Safety Measures

To ensure the safety of your pets, it is essential to take precautions when choosing to have Tradescantia plants in your home. Here are some measures you can take:

1. Keep the plants out of reach

The best way to prevent accidental ingestion is by placing the Tradescantia plants in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. Consider hanging them from the ceiling or placing them on high shelves where they cannot be nibbled on.

2. Provide alternative chew toys

Pets may be attracted to Tradescantia plants due to their dangling leaves, which can resemble toys. To distract your pets, provide them with plenty of appropriate chew toys and keep them engaged in other activities.

3. Monitor your pets

If you choose to have Tradescantia plants within reach of your pets, it is crucial to monitor their behavior closely. Keep an eye out for any signs of chewing or ingestion. If you notice any suspicious behavior, remove the plant from their vicinity immediately.

4. Train your pets

Training your pets to avoid chewing on plants can be beneficial not only for the safety of your Tradescantia plants but also for their general well-being. Positive reinforcement training techniques can help teach your pets what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

Pet-Friendly Alternatives

If you are concerned about the potential risks associated with Tradescantia plants, there are several pet-friendly alternatives you can consider:

1. Cat-friendly plants

For cat owners, there are many cat-friendly plants available that can add beauty to your home without posing a risk to your furry friend’s health. Some cat-friendly plant options include spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata), and catnip (Nepeta cataria).

2. Dog-friendly plants

When it comes to dogs, there are also several dog-friendly plant options that you can safely introduce into your home. Some popular choices include Areca palms (Dypsis lutescens), Boston ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata), and African violets (Saintpaulia spp.).


While Tradescantia plants may be visually appealing and easy to care for, it is important to consider the potential risks they pose to our beloved pets. The oxalates present in these plants can cause discomfort and irritation if ingested, and some pets may even have allergic reactions to the sap. However, with proper precautions and alternative pet-friendly plant options, you can still enjoy a green and vibrant home environment without compromising your pet’s safety. Always prioritize the well-being of your pets and consult with your veterinarian if you have any concerns about specific plants in your home.