Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Feline-Friendly Garden

by Karen Rose Smith

There are many lists online about plants that are non-toxic to cats. The ASPCA has the most inclusive one for cats and dogs.  One thing to remember is that if you buy plants rather than grow your own, they could have absorbed pesticides from garden stores spraying for insects. As often as possible, I try to grow plants from seed.

Here are a few of my standbys that keep our garden safe for strays who visit us as well as add fragrance and color to our yard.


I love roses and we have about a dozen bushes--Chrysler Imperial, McCartney, Queen Elizabeth, California Dreamin', Double Delight, Blue Girl, Voluptuous, World War II Memorial and some disease-resistant knock-out varieties. Their vivid colors and delightful scents are a joy to behold each June when they're at their height in Pennsylvania.


Depending on the warmth of our spring, I sow zinnia seeds around Memorial Day. They are so easy to grow...unless the bunnies eat them. I rake up the ground a bit, drop the seeds and in six weeks have wonderful color gracing our gardens. My favorite colors are Pink Luminosa, and Purple Prince. There are varieties from the large heirloom blooms to pincushion and miniatures. They can stand up and thrive in humidity and high summer heat.  The butterflies love them and the hummingbirds too.


Petunias will brighten up any planter or garden. If you want color, there are so many varieties to choose from. Wave petunias are good at borders and traditional varieties are hardy and bushy.


Last season, dwarf snapdragons lined our gardens' borders while taller traditional varieties grew to 15 inches or higher.  They are easy to grow.  I planted seeds in January for snapdragons and petunias.  They are ready to plant as soon as the threat of frost is over.


I especially appreciate coneflowers because they attract hummingbirds. In pink, purple and white, they make a sturdy as well as colorful addition to our gardens. We have them planted near one of our feral shelters.


Phlox also attract hummingbirds. They come in various colors from pink to purple to white and blue. I grew one last year that was red and white striped. They can add height to your gardens, growing from two to three feet.

I also use herbs for greenery.  I like having lavender in the garden for its unique scent.  Oregano, chamomile, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley are a few cat-friendly varieties.  Cat mint is wonderful in gardens. It flowers and the cats love to lay in it!

Happy gardening!

Links to explore with non toxic and toxic plant lists:

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