I have some areas I want to cover in vines, and I want them to attract pollinators, but also be pet-safe (especially cats, as mine are quite curious). I could not find much documentation on this (it was either a list of pet-safe, or pollinator-attracting vines, but not combined). So can anyone think of any?

EDIT: More info:

  • Zone: 6
  • Sunlight: Partial to Full Shade
  • Soil: Clay, but I have materials to reduce the hardness of the soil
  • Amount of space: Around 750ft2
  • Thanks for the update with the extra information. Good luck!
    – Niall C.
    Sep 20, 2015 at 21:57

2 Answers 2


Why do you want 'pollinating vines'? All plants produce flowers, even if they are't showy. All need pollination unless self-pollinating by wind/disturbance. Vines for partial/full shade are few. Especially if you want to attract pollinators. Not many plants want to reproduce when they are in the shade.

Evergreen clematis performs well in shade, smells wonderful but one needs to have a place where it can go nuts without needing to be restrained. Otherwise it can get quite thick and unruly up close. Akebia does ok in partial shade but better in light.

And clay soil is a great soil. I miss my clay soils...amazing. The only way to IMPROVE ANY soil type is to add decomposed organic matter. Clay makes great plant beds if you double dig and fluff the soil with a spade. NEVER EVER USE a rototiller with heavy clay soils. Makes concrete.

What are you thinking to use to improve your soil? What do you mean by hardness? There is NOTHING I would ever consider using other than DECOMPOSED organic matter that you only have to dump ON TOP of the soil to work. Clay soil is tiny, tiny, flat rocks. If there is any moisture at all and the soil is ROTATED, churned the flat surfaces are electrostatically enhanced and will stick together to make brick/concrete. Concrete is made from clay, water, gravel, gypsum, lime and ROTATION or agitation.

By piling DECOMPOSED organic matter on top, the soil organisms, micro and macro...come up to EAT decomposed organicc matter, tunnel back into your soil profile, poop it out and this is what it takes to make ANY type of soil better. There is NOTHING else to improve your soil!! Add more information/pictures and we can help you do less yet do better.

For cats, you need to avoid any type of LILY!! Daylilly, Calla lily, Iris...these are attractive to cats and will kill them.

  • any references on lily species killing cats? The free roaming cats in my neighbourhood ignore them.
    – kevinskio
    Sep 20, 2015 at 22:27
  • kevinsky: I found this: petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-safety-tips/…
    – CrazyMatt
    Sep 20, 2015 at 22:35
  • Also, about clematis, I looked it up and apparently it causes only mild symptoms (mainly vomiting and diarrhea), so would my cats learn to avoid this and stop being curious, continue to chomp on it (sorry if it's a silly question)?
    – CrazyMatt
    Sep 20, 2015 at 22:43
  • I only recently...a couple years ago found out about Lily poisoning in cats. ALL lily plants are poisonous to cats...that I could find at that time. They ARE attractive to cats but thank goodness not all cats will nibble on them! Are these free roaming cats domestic, strays, ferals? Domestics of course that don't get out much are more readily attracted. Wilder cats learn to be much more cautious. I don't allow my cats outside anymore...they grow up inside, stay inside, they are very happy and they live much longer!! Grins!
    – stormy
    Sep 20, 2015 at 22:46
  • Clematis does have this reputation but it is very rare that cats will eat them. I think it is the deciduous clematis, not the evergreen that is more...caustic. Vines are usually UP and not right in the cat's faces. I was pretty distressed to find out about the lily family type plants but I've NEVER had a cat yet get sick. I've always had all kinds of Lilies but now that I know...and my cats stay indoors, I just won't put lilies indoors.
    – stormy
    Sep 20, 2015 at 22:52

The ASPCA has a pretty big list of plants that are known to be both toxic and non-toxic to cats and dogs. The list for just cats can be found here and the list for just dogs can be found here.

  • This is better but there is still no source reference. Many of these internet lists are based on one incident that happened rather than toxicological research. They list lilies, yes, bulbs ?, leaves? , in what quantity, at what time of year...
    – kevinskio
    Sep 21, 2015 at 0:25
  • Shoot, this stuff is all over the Master Gardner sites. Leaves primarily, don't need but a few nibbles and this stuff can kill cats. Hey, this was new to me while I was working in a nursery a few summers ago. Someone brought this up and we all looked at a ton of articles on this subject as well. I have always had plants of the lily family everywhere in my yards and I have never had any trouble with my cats. But I might have had very intelligent cats or cats that weren't attracted to this stuff. I always have catnip in my gardens...??
    – stormy
    Sep 21, 2015 at 23:08

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