The 10 Best Plants for Your Bird’s Cage—And Which Ones to Avoid

By: Shelby DeeringUpdated:

The 10 Best Plants for Your Bird’s Cage—And Which Ones to Avoid

Live plants can be a perfect addition to an aviary or even set off to the side of your bird’s cage. But which plants are safe for your bird—and least likely to attract pests or parasites to their habitat? And which toxic plants should you avoid? Here’s everything to know about choosing plants for your bird’s cage.

The 10 Best Plants for Your Bird’s Cage

Whether you have a budgie, parrot, lovebirds or other type of bird, these common plants are safe to include in their cage.
Spinach plants


This plant, also known as Spinacia oleracea, has deep green leaves that can, at times, look curly or crinkled. When it comes to bird-safe plants, vegetables that are safe for birds to ingest top the list. Experts say that in general, the leaves of most vegetables (i.e. romaine, endive, carrot tops, escarole, turnip and dandelion greens), along with the vegetable, are safe for birds to ingest.
Hands holding the leaf of a kale plant


Also called Brassica oleracea, kale has dark green leaves that tend to look ruffled or curled. This is another bird-safe vegetable that can double as an ornamental plant for a birdcage planter.
A dogwood branch with white flowers


No, you don’t have to plant a whole tree in your bird’s cage. If you want to play it especially safe, experts say that if you’re going to offer plants to your pet bird, it’s better to simply offer the leaf, or in this case, branch and not the whole plant. In addition, natural branches encourage a bird (particularly parrots) to grasp using different parts of their feet, which encourages the use of various muscles. And dogwood, aka Cornus florida, has another benefit: Its branches sprout lovely pink, yellow or white flowers.


This herb, also called Ocimum basilicum, has vibrant green leaves and an intoxicating, delicious scent. While we like to use basil in Italian dishes, birds also enjoy it, and it’s safe for them to eat.


Named Mentha piperita, Mint is a green herb that’s also safe to place in a bird’s cage, and it will offer a sweet-smelling, fresh aroma as well. In fact, most herbs are safe to include in a cage, including ginger, cilantro, oregano, parsley and thyme. If the bird grabs a little snack, there will be no worries.
A potted rubber tree plant Meshcherskaia

6Rubber tree

Although it has a charming nickname, rubber trees are also known as Hevea brasiliensis. While they can grow tall in a forest, and are tapped for their rubber sap, they additionally come in convenient houseplant sizes, with deep green leaves and a thin trunk. It also is an on-trend plant, making for a decorative, and safe, accent for your pet bird’s cage.
A potted bamboo plant


Are you looking for a particularly tropical or jungle-like feel for your bird’s cage? Then look to the Bamboo plant, otherwise known as Bambusa vulgaris. It’s the treat of choice among pandas, and it’s equally safe for pet birds.
A purple orchid plant


Maybe you’re hoping to add some floral touches to your bird’s cage. Then you’ll be pleased to know that gorgeous orchids, which belong to the family Orchidaceae and come in colors ranging from pink to orange to blue, are safe to include in your bird’s cage.
Hands holding a potted African violet plant Rakhimova

9African Violet

For little dots of purple for your bird’s cage, look no further than the African Violet, or Saintpaulia ionantha. They’ll beautify the space and are perfectly safe for your feathered friend.
A collection of potted parlor palm plants Ostapenko

10Parlor Palm

Looking like a large-scale, flourishing palm, the houseplant-sized Parlor Palm, or Chamaedorea elegans, is a popular houseplant choice nowadays. The green, sprawling leaves will create a jungle-inspired atmosphere in your bird’s cage.

Other Bird-Safe Plants

  • Acacia, aka Acacia dealbata
  • African Daisy, aka Arctotis stoechadifolia
  • Aloe, aka Aloe spp. (flesh only)
  • Ash, aka Fraxinus spp.
  • Aspen, aka Populus spp.
  • Baby’s Breath, aka Gypsophila paniculate
  • Beech, aka Fagus, Nothofagus
  • Begonia, aka Begonia cucullata
  • Birch, aka Betula spp.
  • Bird’s Nest Fern, aka Asplenium nidus
  • Boston Fern, aka Nephrolepsis bostoniensis
  • Bougainvillea, aka Bougainvillea
  • Butterfly Cane, aka Areca lustescens
  • Bromeliads, aka Anans comosus
  • Calendula, aka (Pot Marigold) Calendula officinalis
  • Chamomile, aka Chamaemelum nobile
  • Chickweed, aka Stellaria media
  • Christmas Cactus, aka Schlumbergera bridgesii
  • Corn Plant, aka Dracaena fragrans
  • Coffee, aka Coffea arabica
  • Crabapple, aka Malus sylvestris
  • Croton (house variety), aka Codiaeum variegatum
  • Dandelion, aka Taraxacum officinalis
  • Dracaena, aka Dracaena spp.
  • Dragon tree, aka Dracaena draco
  • Elm, aka Ulmus spp.
  • Eucalyptus, aka Beaucarnea recurvata
  • European Fan, aka Chamaerops humilis
  • Fir, aka Abies spp.
  • Gardenia, aka Gardenia jasminoides
  • Grape vine, aka Vitis spp.
  • Honeysuckle, aka Lonicera spp.
  • Impatiens, aka Impatiens spp.
  • Jade plant, aka Crassula ovata
  • Kalanchoe, aka Kalanchoe clossfeldiana
  • Kangaroo, aka vines Cissus antarctica
  • Larch, aka Larix spp.
  • Lemon balm, aka Melissa officianalis
  • Lilac, aka Syringa vulgaris and related species
  • Magnolia, aka Magnolia spp.
  • Manzanita, aka Arctostapylos manzanita
  • Marigold, aka Tagetes spp.
  • Nasturtium, aka Tropaeolum majus
  • Norfolk Island Pine, aka Araucaria exceIsa
  • Parsley, aka Petroselinum spp.
  • Purple passion flower, aka Passiflora caerulea
  • Peppermint, aka Mentha piperita
  • Petunia, aka Petunia spp.
  • Prayer plant, aka Maranta leuconeura
  • Rose, aka Rosa spp.
  • Spider plant, aka Chlorophytum comosum
  • Succulents (Hens and Chicks), aka Sempervivum tectorum
  • Umbrella Tree, aka Schefflera actinophylla
  • Violet, aka Viola spp.
  • Wandering Jew, aka Tradescantia zebrina

Poisonous Plants for Birds

Steer clear of these plants when you’re choosing accessories for your bird cage—they’re toxic to your feathered friend.
  • Amaryllis, aka Amaryllis spp.
  • Andromeda, aka japonica Pieris japonica
  • Asian lily, aka Lilium asiatica
  • Asparagus fern, aka Asparagus sprengeri
  • Australian nut, aka Macademia integrifolia
  • Autumn crocus, aka Colchium sp.
  • Avocado, aka Persea americana (pit, leaves, unripe fruit, and stems)
  • Azalea, aka Rhododendron sp.
  • Bird of Paradise, aka Poinciana and related spp. (Seed pods and flowers)
  • Bittersweet, American, aka Celastrus scandens
  • Bittersweet, European, aka Solanum dulcamara
  • Black locust, aka Robina pseudocacia
  • Branching ivy, aka Hedera helix
  • Buckeye, aka Aesculus spp.
  • Buddhist pine, aka Podocarpus macrophylla
  • Caladium, aka Caladium spp.
  • Calla lily, aka Zantedeschia aethiopica
  • Castor bean, aka Ricinus sp.
  • Ceriman, aka Monstera deliciosa
  • Charming diffenbachia, aka Diffenbachia amoena
  • Cherry, aka Prunus spp., (pits, leaves, and bark)
  • Chinaberry tree, aka Melia azedarach
  • Chinese evergreen, aka Aglaonema modestrum
  • Christmas rose, aka Helleborus niger
  • Clematis, aka Montana rubens
  • Cycad, Sago, Zamia palms, aka Cycad spp.
  • Daffodil, aka Narcissus tazetta
  • Day lily, aka Hemorocallis dumotirei
  • Deadly nightshade, aka Solanum spp.
  • Devil's ivy, aka Epipremnum aureum
  • Dumb cane, aka Dieffenbachia sp.
  • Easter lily, aka Lilium longiflorum
  • Elephant Ears or Taro, aka Colocasia spp.
  • Emerald feather or fern, aka Asparagus densiflorus
  • English ivy, aka Hedera helix
  • Figs, aka Ficus spp. (sap)
  • Flamingo plant, aka Anthuruium sp.
  • Florida beauty, aka Dracaena spp.
  • Foxglove, aka Digitalis purpurea
  • Fruit salad plant, aka Philodendron pertusum
  • Garlic, aka Allium sativum
  • Glacier ivy, aka Hedera helix
  • Gladiolas, aka Gladiolas spp.
  • Glory lily, aka Gloriosa superba
  • Hyacinth, aka Hyacinthus oreintalis
  • Hydrangea, aka Hydrangea spp.
  • Iris, aka Iris spp.
  • Ivy (Boston, English and some others), aka Hedera spp.
  • Lace fern, aka Asparagus setaceus
  • Lilies, aka Lillium spp.
  • Lily of the Valley, aka Convallaria majalis
  • Macadamia nut, aka Macademia integrifolia
  • Marijuana, aka Cannabis sativa
  • Mistletoe, aka Phoradendron villosum
  • Morning glory, aka Ipomoea spp.
  • Mother-in-Law plant, aka Monstera sp.
  • Mushrooms, aka Amanita spp. and many others
  • Narcissus, aka Narcissus spp.
  • Nightshade, aka Solanum spp.
  • Oak, aka Quercus spp.
  • Oleander, aka Nerium oleander
  • Onion, aka Allium spp.
  • Orange day lily, aka Hemorocallis graminea
  • Peace lily, aka Spathiphyllum spp.
  • Peach, aka Prunus persica (leaves, pit, bark)
  • Pear, aka Pyrus spp. (leaves, seeds, bark)
  • Poinsettia, aka Euphorbia pulcherima
  • Potato, aka Solanum tuberosum (sprouts, leaves, berries, green tubers)
  • Pothos, aka Epipremnum sp.
  • Rhubarb, aka Rheum spp.
  • Saddle leaf philodendron, aka Philodendron selloum
  • Spotted dumb cane, aka Dieffenbachia picta
  • Stargazer lily, aka Lilium orientalis
  • Sweetheart ivy, aka Hedera helix
  • Swiss cheese plant, aka Monstera deliciosa
  • Tiger lily, aka Lilium tigrinum
  • Tomato, aka Lycopersicon esculentum (stems and leaves)
  • Tulip, aka Tulip sp.
  • Yew; Japanese, American, English & Western, aka Taxus spp.
  • Yucca, aka Yucca filamentosa

6 Safety Tips for Birds and Plants


1 Consider not including plants.

Even though many people include plants in their pet birds’ cages, some experts are still wary, and you should be as well. Although live plants provide opportunities for enrichment and foraging, they also carry risks and difficulties that may outweigh those benefits. For example, keeping potted plants in a parrot’s cage can be difficult, as parrots have sharp beaks that can chew up not only the plants, but also the pots that house them. The soil in potted plants also can contain fungi, bacteria and parasites that all can cause illness in birds if they ingest them (or even touch them, in some cases).

2Plan for careful cleaning.

Experts say that it can be challenging to keep a bird’s enclosure clean when there are live potted plants inside. The plants will have to be removed each time you clean the cage, and since birds are extremely sensitive to aerosolized toxins, plants can’t be sprayed with any chemicals while they are anywhere near birds.

3Offer just leaves or branches.

Due to the risks associated with potting soil (i.e. fungi, bacteria and parasites), consider ditching the pots and simply offer leaves or branches to your pet bird.

4Be prepared for parasites.

Mealy bugs and whiteflies can live on plants, and if they rear their ugly heads, you won’t be able to use chemicals to treat your plants, since your bird may accidentally ingest them. To create a barrier between the soil and your bird, it’s recommended to cover the substrate of the plants with a couple layers of clean, untreated river rocks, which can solve a bird’s temptation potential and make the soil beneath the rocks less accessible or attractive to foreign invaders, or at least fortify protection while allowing water to seep through to plant roots.

5Trust your gut.

At the end of the day, if you just aren’t sure about a certain plant for your bird’s cage, don’t use it. And rely on expert-approved lists of safe plants instead.

6Skip the plants if your bird is sick or injured.

Birds who are sick or injured should not be in a cage with plants. Plants can make it harder to monitor not only the bird, but also their appetite and eliminations. Also, birds with mobility issues are poorly suited to having live plants, unless they are specifically adapted for your bird’s needs.
Now you're armed with all the knowledge you need to decide which plants to add to your bird's cage. Thinking about spotting birds in the wild instead? Birding is super-trendy right now—here's how to get started.
Expert input for this story provided by: Jeff Radzak, developer of the JWR Exotic Bird Environment Air System; Donna Muscarella, Ph.D., at the Laboratory of Molecular Toxicology at Cornell University’s Veterinary Medical Center; Laurie Hess, DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice), Owner of the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics in Bedford Hills, New York and Professional Services Veterinarian for Specialty Pets at Chewy; August Abbott, a Certified Avian Specialist by the Pet Advocacy Network, JustAnswer Avian Health Expert and the founder of Broken Birds Sanctuary in Grass Valley, California; Natalie Antinoff DVM, Diplomate ABVP (Avian Practice) at Texas Avian & Exotic Hospital in Grapevine, Texas.


By: Shelby DeeringUpdated: