Need help finding an indoor plant

KJP9October 20, 2013

Hi everyone, I am new to the forum mainly because I need some help finding a good indoor plant. I would like to add a plant to each side of my fireplace. I don't use the fireplace often, maybe 1-2 times a year. The plants would be about 6 inches or so from floor vents in a room with sky lights. I also have pets so I need something nontoxic to dogs. I would love for the plant to low maintenance since I'm not a green thumb. :-)

My local nursery wasn't very helpful. I tried a calathea plant for a couple weeks, but the leaves started curling a lot and several fell off. I don't know if it didn't like being near the vent or what. I loved the size and the coloring, but I ended up returning it for its own good. Any suggestions would be helpful and greatly appreciated.

To recap, I need an indoor plant that:
*Can handle being near floor vents
*Can handle being in a room with sky lights
*Is nontoxic to dogs
*Is low maintenance

Thanks in advance!

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CactusBoss(Zone 5a)

Cast Iron plant.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 9:04PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Cast Iron plant would suffer that near the vents.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 9:15PM
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CactusBoss(Zone 5a)

Maybe some kind of succulent. But I do have a Neoregelia that has been in direct vent flow for more than 2 months now and those are supposedly even less tolerant of those conditions than a Cast Iron Plant so it may be worth a try.

This post was edited by CactusBoss on Sun, Oct 20, 13 at 21:42

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 9:38PM
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marquest(z5 PA)

Sansevieria plant, It does not even care if you do not water it for a month. When it gets big you b=get fragrant flowers,

To really make a statement buy two gorgeous pots. They are easy to find at HD and Lowes and are usually only 10.00 for a big plant that you could divide into two plants.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sansevieria plant,

    Bookmark   October 20, 2013 at 11:17PM
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How much light is afforded by these skylights?

If plenty then Yucca? Sansevieria may get burned by the fire.

I can imagine Calatheas didn't do too well. :-D

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 5:47AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Marquest....look up Sansevieria on the ASPCA site. It's listed as toxic to pets.

Stewartsjon, look up Yucca on the ASPCA site. It is also listed as toxic.

I haven't been able to come up with a plant that fits ALL of the criteria. I also suspect that our OP wants a plant of a certain stature since it's a floor plant and not a tabletop item.

This post was edited by rhizo_1 on Mon, Oct 21, 13 at 7:48

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:36AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Knowing generally where you are would help folks know how often your furnace might blow/how dry the air can get in your house. The more it blows, the less humidity you are likely to have. Is Crassula toxic to pets? That's what came to mind first thinking "hot, dry," desert-dwellers. "Hot, humid" is more my milieu...

When using the fireplace, I'd move whatever farther away for the evening. If that's as rare as you describe, and it is possible to move them farther to the side when the fire is being used, I don't think that would be much of a factor, but can't think of any 'regular, leafy' plants that would like to be that close to a register/vent. Can you put one of those things over it to direct the flow of air into the center of the room? Maybe a pic of the spot could help folks help you decide.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 10:59AM
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Its evident that you are not a houseplant person...and for that reason alone, you should stop placing plants in danger and instead learn about how to care for them.

The local nursery that didn't help you...probably gave you good information that you wouldn't want two plants to be sentinels at the side of your fireplace.
Stop---think---what fireplace that emits heat into a room would do to a tender plant that cannot defend itself against what is hurting it.
The fireplace is one then place the plants near a floor vent which is changing the room's environment constantly.

I suggest you visit your local bookstore and peruse the books about houseplants---probably shelves and shelves on the subject.
Buy one that suits---and study how to care for houseplants and then...make the room ready to accept the plant...or....find another place for them.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 11:29AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

IMO, any plant in a pot is in danger. The fact that KJ is here asking for help indicates he/she wants to NOT cause unnecessary harm to plants.

KJ hasn't expressed an interest in acquiring a range of general potted plant knowledge, or trying to keep an inappropriate plant in the described spot and should, IMO, be able to succeed if the conditions are understood so the next plant tried is selected based on more appropriate suggestions for those conditions. Taking the fireplace out of the equation (which, as said above, would only be used 1-2 times per year, so I would think it would be easy to move plants for those rare occasions,) how different can his/her house be from anybody else's who has house plants?

But after reading the question again, I also wonder if the sky lights are the only windows? The amount of light is the main factor for plant selection. From there, one can select plants that don't mind being blown on/low humidity, then eliminate those that don't appeal, and are toxic to pets.

This post was edited by purpleinopp on Mon, Oct 21, 13 at 12:08

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 12:07PM
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A snake plant (Sansevieria) is the only thing I can think of that might tolerate that spot, but they are toxic to pets.

I have seen a lot of request here from people wanting plant suggestions for places where plants simply can't survive. There may be a plant that could deal with those conditions, but it certainly wouldn't thrive. Why bother?

If you must have greenery on either side of your fireplace, invest in some high-quality artificial plants. There are many out there, and they won't be bothered by fire, blasting air vents, or blazing sun.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 4:00PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

That was my thinking, plastic or silk, cause otherwise they're too many restrictions to be a living plant.

Now that I think about it, almost every person I know who grows Sans. also has cats, I didn't know they were toxic & have NEVER heard of anyone having issue.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 4:14PM
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The big thing about toxicity is that they're only dangerous if eaten. My own cat has never chewed plants, not matter the texture, smell, or look, so I would not be afraid to bring a toxic plant into my home. My friend's cat is only obsessed with one of her plants (the only one toxic to cats, of course!). And there are some cats who are going to murder anything and everything green. And then poop on/in it. Cats are awesome. And horrible.

The sans doesn't look like something that would invite an animal to chew on it, but you can just never tell what's going to catch a dog's eye. Probably better to not take the chance.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 4:43PM
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To those of you who kindly and politely responded with suggestions, thank you. For those of you who asked, I live near Atlanta. I rarely use the fireplace (1-2 times a year is probably an overestimate since it does little more than to produce light). The plants would not be directly over/in front of the vents, but are about 6-12 inches to the side of the vents. While the skylights are not directly over where the plants would be, they do allow alot of light into the room. There are also windows behind where the plants would be on either side of the fireplace, but the shades are down about 50-60% of the time during the day. I could open them more often if need be. I just don't always do it before leaving in the morning. I appreciate the suggestions about the artificial plants. I have considered that, but was hoping that I could find a real plant. I will doublecheck with the ASPCA site about the suggestions already given, which I appreciate. Thank you!

Wow, goren, you seem to have an attitude toward me that I don't understand. I'm not placing any plants in danger, which as purpleinopp stated is part of the reason I came to this site. The two local nurseries gave me bad information. One suggested the calathea plant, which started curling so apparently it did not like the environment even though I followed what the nursery suggested for its care. The other nursery suggested plants which were toxic to dogs. So, you're right, I didn't accept the information they gave me because they were WRONG. You could have suggested as others did that an artificial plant would be a wiser decision because the conditions I described would be too restrictive for a plant to thrive. That would have been polite and well received. Instead it seems that you are attacking my character by suggesting I ignore advice just because I don't like what is said or that I am purposely trying to endanger a plant.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 2:45PM
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i think spider plant will fit the bill. non-toxic. can grow in very low light, withstands temp var, drafts, what not. and will multiply too. the only thing - it needs to be a tall planter to be a floor plant - it will trail babies that will hang low. cats might want to play with dangling plantlets though, expecially if they move in a draft.
but you can cut them off.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 3:54PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

It's perfectly normal to want to have plants in one's home. Even those who have had many different plants over many years sometimes ask for help and advice.

It sounds like a pretty normal spot in a normal house. The light sounds like a medium amount at most, unless your skylights let in a lot more sun than others I've seen, or you do want to change your routine (opening the windows more) on behalf of potential new plants.

Atlanta is pretty far south, so extremely low humidity from the heat running constantly probably isn't a problem, though those using an actual furnace (not heat pump,) might have worse results from plants sitting in the blast of that air, which comes out at a much higher temperature. I've rarely had the luxury of being able to put plants in spots where the furnace vent doesn't blow on them when I lived in OH, and plants have definitely had some heat pump air blowing on them here, before we stopped using the central system. Since we don't use it, we keep a couple ceiling fans turning all winter to keep the air moving.

Don't know the size or activity level of your dogs, but hanging pots of some type might offer a way to keep plants out of reach, even if they are a type of plant not usually displayed in such a way. Regular plastic hanging baskets aren't the prettiest things, and the coir-lined wire type would probably look totally wrong inside most houses. You might like to hang a pretty (wooden or other material of your choice) shelf, then sit a plant on that, for a non-plastic, more upscale look, if your ceiling isn't so high that that's not practical.

If you think you need to go with something fake, I'd still avoid the temperamental Ficus benjamina. Even the fake ones drop leaves everywhere. (That's a joke, in case anyone's wound too tight to tell!)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2013 at 4:08PM
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