Your pets benefit from fresh herbs just as much as you do, and it’s simple to grow many pet-friendly herbs indoors.
Just be sure to plant each one in rich, organic soil and fertilize with non-chemical fertilizers. Avoid plastic pots, too, to prevent leaking. Stone and porcelain work well. Bonus: You can use these fresh herbs (well, maybe not the catnip) in your own cooking!
A staple in Thai cooking, lemon grass smells like fresh lemon and has been credited with deterring fleas. It’s pet-safe if your dogs choose to munch on a bit of the fresh grass. Scatter pots of lemongrass around your outdoor space to deter pesky mosquitoes, too. To grow, purchase fresh lemon grass at the store and use the stalks to whip up a delicious Thai dinner. Then, set the bulbous root in a jar of water on a sunny windowsill. Allow the roots to grow for a few weeks—changing the water regularly—then trim down the stems and pot the roots in a rich soil mix. Water well and transplant as needed.
Basil is an antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral power plant. It may even help your dog with arthritis. Plant basil seeds in well-drained soil in a sunny window—it would share well with catnip because basil requires the same six hours of sun each day. As it grows, prune your basil plant regularly, and divide the leaves between making yourself pesto and sprinkling a bit of the fresh herb on your dog’s dinner.
Catnip, a member of the mint family, is invasive so can overtake your yard quickly. Growing it indoors in a pot manages the herb and allows you to grow it year-round in a sunny window. Plant catnip seeds in rich soil in a pot with drainage. It craves sun—six hours a day—and constantly moist soil. As the seeds mature, keep your cat from digging in; they’re delicate in the early stages. Once you have solid growth, allow your cat access to the fresh plant, or dry clippings to sprinkle or stuff in a toy.
Grow a pot of parsley to add a healthy dose of vitamins, like C, K, and B, plus limonene, an oil that helps freshen your dog’s breath by killing bacteria in the mouth. Mix a small amount of freshly-chopped parsley into your dog’s food. Parsley needs a warm, sunny spot to flourish. Use a deep pot to allow the roots plenty of space, and water the herb consistently.
More than a power-packed addition to your morning smoothie, wheatgrass helps dogs and cats settle upset stomachs. Chock full of nutrients and goodies like chlorophyll, wheatgrass can be chopped and mixed into your pet’s food. Or, if you plant wheatgrass in a larger tray, dogs and cats can have access to munch as desired. Sprout wheatgrass seeds in water, then plant in compost. Cover your planter for a week. When you lift the lid, the grass will look pale. That’s okay! Allow a few more days for the green grass to push through, and harvest the grass as it starts to fork.
Maggie is a writer and author, whose first book, Clicker Dog Training: The Better Path to a Well-Behaved Pup was published by Open Air Publishing. When she's not writing (or reading books about grammar), she teaches writing courses to college students and professionals who want to nail down the basics of communication. Outside of work, she hikes, throws dinner parties, plays with her three dogs and cat, and travels as much as possible.