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Pet-Friendly Plants For Your Calgary Garden

Cartoon of a cat surrounded by plants, painting a green sign that reads: "Pet-Friendly Garden lants for Calgary's Gardens".

Paw-pular Pet-Friendly Plants Everyone Will Appreciate!

A garden is something the entire family should be able to safely enjoy – including our furry family members.

Calgary pet parents wondering which garden plants won’t pose a risk to their furry family members, this post is for you!

We aren’t just a professional Calgary lawn care company with decades of experience – we’re also bunch of proud pet parents. And we know how important it is to find the best pet-friendly plants for your Calgary landscaping and gardens.

Photo of a mischievous puppy about to start chewing plant leaves in a Calgary garden.

Superyards’ Pet-Pawsitive Plant Picks for Your Calgary Garden.

This post looks at our top 7 picks for planting a pet-friendly garden in Calgary. But before we dive into our list, we need to mention that even non-toxic plants can sometimes cause funny tummies for some of our more sensitive furry friends (especially the young ones). So if your pet is one that loves to taste test everything then it’s a wise move to keep an eye on them when they’re outside, even if you have a landscape filled with pet-friendly plant species.

Also, if you’re looking for a list of garden plants that are not pet-friendly, then check out the Alberta SPCA’s blog post about high-risk garden plants.

With that important point out of the way, here are Superyards’ favourite pet-safe plants that thrive in Calgary’s climate.

Photo of fuscia coloured Marshall's Delight variety of bee balm, or Monarda, flowers in a Calgary garden.

Bee balm (Monarda):

This beautiful and easily-grown flowering plant is beloved by both bees and gardeners alike. Luckily it’s also safe for our puppy dogs and kitty cats (and bunny rabbits and hedgehogs)! Could this beautiful balm get any better? (Hint: It does.)

Bee balm is also a native Alberta plant species and can be found throughout our beautiful province, and options such as ‘Jacob Cline’ and ‘Marshall’s Delight’ being popular choices among Calgary’s gardeners. As a native Alberta plant species, bee balm is ideally suited for Calgary landscapes and gardens and will thrive when planted in beneficial bee balm conditions!

Bee balm most likes to be planted 30-46 centimeters (so, 12-18 inches) apart in spots that have full sun to partial shade exposure. Make sure the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter, and consider amending your soil with compost if it hasn’t been tended to over the past few years.


Pro Tip: Bee balm is a plant that benefits a lot from deadheading, so pay attention to any spent flowers and be sure to snip them off to encourage fresh growth.


Photo of an orange tabby cat lazing blissfully in a planter filled with catnip.
If you plant it, they will come.

Catnip (Nepata cataria):

What kind of pet-friendly plant list would this be without catnip? (Answer: pretty lame.)

For obvious reasons, catnip is a primo plant choice for many cat caretakers. But did you know that it’s also safe for dogs?

Though dogs won’t get the same enthusiastic reaction (re: manic joy) from catnip as our feline friends, it’s still totally safe for all the furry members of your family.

Catnip likes to be planted in well-drained soil with a full sun exposure, much like bee balm. Catnip seeds can be sown directly into the dirt from mid-April to early June, and should be spaced about 45-60 centimeters (18-24 inches) apart.

Another Pro Tip: Catnip and bee balm make great companion plants, so consider planting both in the same garden bed, with the two plants spaced about 30-45 centimeters apart from each other.


Coneflowers (AKA: Echinacea):

Not just an herbal immune support supplement – coneflowers/Echinacea are a charming, pet-friendly addition to virtually any Calgary landscape! Coneflowers boast distinctive, cone-shaped flowers (go figure) in various shades of purple, pink, and white. They are also are another awesome native species to North America.

Photo of a butterfly and a bee pollinating an echinacea flower in Calgary
Everybody Loves Echinacea.

Coneflowers are fairly easy to grow, thanks to their ability to tolerate a range of growing conditions. That said, the Echinacea coneflower prefers to be planted 30-45 centimeters (12-18 inches) apart in full sun and well-draining soil. Plant the seeds directly into your Calgary garden in early spring for a later maturation date, or transplant seedlings into your garden bed after the last frost of the season for slightly sooner blooms.

Heads up: Even though Echinacea/coneflower plants are safe for our furry familiars to smell and even chew, it is not safe to start giving your pet Echinacea supplements! Talk with your vet if you want to find out the best way to boost your pet’s immune system.


Lavender (Lavendula):

Who doesn’t love lavender? Here at Superyards, we are long-time lavender lovers!

And while lavender is not a native North American plant species, it can do very well in Calgary’s unique climate – especially English lavender (botanical name: Lavendula angustifolia). It’s also one of the more pet-friendly scented flowers you can add to your Calgary landscape.

Photo of a teddy bear perched in a thick bush of English lavender.
The smell of fresh lavender brings all the teddy bears to the yard.

The trick is to make sure that your lavender is planted in well-drained soil; it does not tolerate “wet feet” and will get root rot if left in too much moisture. If this is a potential worry for you, you can add some sand to the garden bed you intend to plant your lavender in to improve drainage.

Lavender also loves full sun, so plant it in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight during the day. Also be sure to water it regularly during that first year after planting so that it can grow a strong and healthy root system. Also prune it back in the fall to help encourage healthier growth next summer.

You Should Know: Lavender plants are alright with pets, but lavender’s essential oil is toxic to our furry friends. Make sure you keep an eye on your furry family member when they’re poking around your lovely lavender so they don’t get into any trouble!


Nasturtiums are great flowers for any Calgary garden! Many Calgary gardeners love to feast their eyes on this pet-friendly plant’s attractive foliage and lovely flowers.

These annuals are also totally edible and have a subdued peppery taste, and the flowers, seeds, and leaves are all used in culinary dishes.

Photo of orange nasturtium growing alongside a piece of gnarled driftwood.Nasturtiums are also known for the high levels of vitamin C and antimicrobial properties, and have traditionally been used to help alleviate respiratory infections and digestive issues!

When planting nasturtiums, you can either start the seeds indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost of the season, or you can sow the seeds directly into the soil once the frost warnings have ended. These plants do best in full sun, but are hardy enough to adapt to part shade. They also do best in moist (but well-drained) soil that is rich in organic materials. So, like bee balm, consider amending your soil with organic compost if this hasn’t been done in the past few years.

Another paw-pular thing about nasturtiums is that they’re pretty adaptable and will tolerate a range of growth conditions, from full sun to partial shade. Just be sure to deadhead them regularly to keep their beautiful (and delicious) flowers blooming all season long!

Tasty Garden-to-Kitchen Treats: Have you tasted nasturtium pesto yet? If not then we highly recommend it. It’s easy to find a good recipe for it online, so why not live a little and give it a try!

Rudbeckia (AKA: black-eyed Susan):

Another pet-friendly favourite of our much-needed pollinators, ‘black-eyed Susan’ is a zesty addition to any Calgary landscape. These versatile vixens are beloved by bumblebees and butterflies, and they start to bloom around the end July. They also don’t care if your soil isn’t great – so long as it drains well, they can adapt!

The best species of Rudbeckia to plant in Calgary are the cold hardy ones, such as Rudbeckia hirta or Rudbeckia triloba.

Rudbeckia should be planted after the last frost warning, and located in a spot that gets 6-8 ours of direct sunlight. Good sunlight and a deep, thorough watering once a week (depending on recent weather) will help ensure your black-eyed Susan is set for success.

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum):

Defiant stalks of adorable flowers and a vibrant variety of vivid colours make snapdragons a fantastic choice for Calgary gardens of all shapes & sizes!

Did you know that snapdragons are native to the Mediterranean? They were introduced to North American gardens in the early 19th Century (AKA: The 1800s), and quickly spread like fire throughout the continent. Nowadays, their feisty foliage is firmly nested in the hearts of gardeners everywhere!

We are smitten with snapdragons. They are the garden heroes of Calgary. The mighty snapdragon stands strong and tall, defying gale-force gusts and driving rains like the magnificent mythical beasts they’re named for.

And, of course, they are fully pet-friendly.

Photo of yellow snapdragons with pink and orange tints basking in glorious Calgary sunshine.
If loving snapdragons is wrong, we don’t want to be right.

Spring and fall are the two seasons that work best for planting these fine, formidable flowers in Calgary. Some of the hardiest snapdragon varietals for spring planting are:

The tall and noble Rocket Series, which can grow up to 76 centimeters (30 inches) in the right conditions and will bloom earlier in the growing season. As such, this series should be planted about 30-45 centimeters (12-18 inches) apart.

The fabulous Floral Showers is also a strong pet-friendly plant choice for Calgary gardeners, thanks to its long-lasting blooms and wide range of colours. This varietal can grow to ~51 centimeters (20 inches) and won’t stop blooming until temperature cool off in the fall.

If you’re looking to plant in the fall instead, then consider either the Sonnet Series or Liberty Series of snapdragon. Both are wonderful choices for our climate, and both boast buds and blooms that help give fall some formidable flower power!

True Tails of Pet-Friendly Plants.

There are so very many brilliant options when it comes to planting a pet-friendly garden in Calgary. The pet-friendly plants listed here are some of our favourite choices for growing a landscape that everyone – furry family & friends included – can enjoy without worry.

But there are even more options available to Calgary’s gardening pet parents! Have questions about how pet-friendly your Calgary garden is? Want to know more about making your Calgary lawn care routine pet-icularly animal-friendly? Then give us a call and talk to one of our Calgary lawn care experts about the perfect pet-approved plants for your garden!

Want to make your yard a Superyard? Then give us a call to chat about how Superyards can help make your lawn and garden as pet-friendly as possible! We offer unbeatable landscaping services throughout Calgary, as well as services seasonal lawn care service packages tailored to your budget.