Can You Put Plants On A Radiator? (Explained With Examples!)

If you’re trying to work out where to place your plants around your home, you’re likely eyeing up the radiators as potential spots for great plant placement.

Radiators are usually near windows, which is where you want to put your plants so they can get maximum light. However, that isn’t necessarily a good idea. Remember that radiators are designed to produce heat, and a lot of it.

So, can you put plants on a radiator?

Houseplants will not enjoy being put on radiators. The constant heat will dry them out even if you try hard to keep them watered, and many plants, in particular, will really struggle to deal with the environment, even if they get plenty of light from your window to help them grow. Plants on or near radiators will not thrive, and may just die.

Can You Put Plants Next To A Radiator?

Not really, no.

If your radiator is on, it will be outputting heat that will dry your plant’s soil, wilt its leaves, and generally overheat it.

Some plants will fare better near radiators, and it does depend on how hot your radiator gets, but in general, you should keep your plants away from your heaters.

Heat rises, so if you keep your plants next to the radiator, rather than on it, it may do better.

Try to direct heat away from the plant further by putting in things that will block and deflect the heat. For example, you might stand some tall ornaments between the plant and the air rising from the radiator.

Here are some other things you can do to deflect radiator heat:

  • wrap a cardboard piece in silver foil and place it between the radiator and the plant to block the heat
  • or opt for a more professional solution and use this Commercial Grade Reflective Foil Heat Reflector as a separator between the radiator and the plant – it will reflect heat and won’t let it reach the plant.

However, with any of these solutions, you need to be careful not to block out the light.

How Far From The Radiator Should Your Plants Be?

This will depend a lot on how hot your radiator gets, and the kind of climate you live in, as well as the kind of plant you have.

In cool climates, some plants will handle a radiator’s heat better, and may even get some benefit from it if the air temperature is very cold.

Try to work out what radius of heat your radiator outputs. Ideally, a radiator heats the whole room, but you can probably feel the concentration of heat by holding your hand out near the radiator.

f there is a lot of heat about a foot away, but this noticeably decreases two feet away, you have your answer.

As a very rough rule of thumb, give your plants about three feet between them and the radiator.

This should be enough to stop the plants from feeling the direct impact of the radiator, and ensure that their environment stays at a reasonably constant temperature.

However, if your radiators are cool and don’t output much heat, you can afford to put plants a little closer. Equally, if they output a lot, leave more space.

Can A Radiator Kill Plants?

Yes, if you stand plants directly on a radiator that outputs a lot of heat, it will kill them.

The roots will dry up, even if you keep watering your plant consistently.

Most plants are used to being buried in cool ground; they do not like hot soil.

Even desert plants do not get very hot roots on the whole. The sand may heat up on the surface, but it will remain cool further down, where the roots are.

Don’t assume that a plant can handle a radiator just because it comes from a sunny environment (though it will usually manage better than shade-lovers).

How To Protect Your Plants From Radiator Heat?

If you really need to put your plants nearer to a radiator, then you want to think about ways to protect them.

You might be able to protect plants from radiator heat by putting up a wide shelf under the plants, if they are above the radiator.

This should help to deflect the heat away from the plants, especially if it is reasonably thick.

This shelf should be made of wood, which is a good insulator.

You can also use foil deflectors to push the heat away from the plants, like I mentioned before.

Putting these between your plant and the heater may work, but again, you need to be careful not to block the plant’s light or make it too difficult to water.

Caring For Plants Near Radiators

If you absolutely can’t keep your plant away from the radiator, you can use a certain trick that should help to combat that “dry heat” at least a little: installing a humidifier. You don’t need to buy anything fancy to do this.

Here’s how to craft a DIY humidifier at home in 3 easy steps:

  1. Fill a shallow tray with pieces of gravel;
  2. Add water to the tray, making sure that the surface of the water doesn’t come above the top of the gravel;
  3. You can then stand plants on top of this tray, and the heat will help the water to evaporate, making the air humid instead of dry.

It will still be warm, but it will be a moist heat that many plants can handle better than dry heat.

You can also buy a Humidifier Tray like this one, which will save you any setup and look very neat and tidy.

Alternatively, purchase an actual humidifier, like this MegaWise Cool Mist Humidifier, which would look amazing standing on a shelf next to a plant. It will emit little puffs of humid air that should help to keep your plant happier.

Interestingly, many common houseplants love a humid environment and will benefit from a humidifier.

Check out this article to learn which plants need a humidifier and how to correctly use one for your plants.

However, please remember that no humidifier will totally counteract a radiator.

Plants That Can Live Above Or Close To Radiators

Very few houseplants will thrive above a radiator, but if you have no other options, you should choose the hardiest houseplants, and ones that like high humidity levels so you can at least provide that.

Here are 5 amazing indoor plants that can live above or close to radiators:

1. Cast Iron Plant

This one is very hard to kill, so it will probably endure most conditions in your home, including a hot radiator.

2. Snake Plant

The Snake Plant is well known for its endurance. On top of that, it enjoys dry conditions and may cope with a radiator.

3. Zebra cactus

Also tolerant of dry conditions, Zebra Cactus will not mind the heat from a radiator.

4. String Of Hearts

Ceropegia (or String Of Hearts) loves lots of indirect light and is tolerant of dry conditions.

5. Aloe vera

Aloe Vera is generally known to be hardy, so it will likely tolerate a radiator nearby.

Plants To Keep Away From Radiators

There are some houseplants that particularly dislike dry, hot conditions.

I suggest not to keep these indoor plants anywhere near a radiator as the dry heat will kill them.

Here are 5 common indoor plants that should stay away from radiators:

1. Venus flytraps

Native to swampy conditions, Venus flytraps will hate the radiator’s drying effect.

2. Lucky bamboo

This one likes lots of water, so it’s very unlikely it will survive in a dry environment.

3. Orchids

Orchids are generally fussy plants that don’t like changes to the environment and may suffer from the temperature fluctuations associated with radiators.

4. Tropical banana plant

This one likes a lot of humidity, and you’re unlikely to be able to produce it with a radiator nearby.

5. Begonias

Begonias prefer cool conditions in general.

As a rule of thumb, think about where a plant comes from when trying to decide whether it is likely to thrive in the dry, hot conditions created by a radiator.

While desert plants won’t tolerate having their roots cooked, they are more likely to manage the temperature and dryness than water-loving, cold-climate plants.

FAQs

When should you put your plants on a radiator?

Really, if avoidable, you shouldn’t, unless the radiator is off and going to remain off for the foreseeable future. Even so, plants don’t like being moved constantly, so it’s not a good idea to temporarily house your plants on your radiators just because they are off.

Here’s an article explaining in more detail why plants don’t like to be moved and what can happen if they are.

Can you use a radiator to keep plants warm in winter?

It’s enough to just keep the room a little warmer, without having the radiator heating the plants directly. Radiators provide intense heat in their near vicinity, so they are more likely to cook plants than to warm them.

While having a radiator in the room is a benefit, plants shouldn’t be standing beside it in order to stay warm. Most plants will be fine at the temperature humans generally keep their houses at and don’t need extra heat.

Can I hang plants above a radiator?

A: As long as it is far away enough, yes. Remember that heat rises, so your plant is more likely to feel the effects of it if it’s directly above the radiator.

If your plant is hanging in a mesh or net, there won’t be anything to deflect the heat, either, so you need to leave more space between the plant and the source of heat.

Should I put “Radiator plants” next to a radiator?

A: Not really, no. Radiator plants have that name because they are heat-lovers and good for growing inside, not because they were designed to stand on a radiator.

A radiator is a very unnatural environment for most plants – heating them from underneath, where their roots are, rather than overhead, like the Sun.

Don’t put radiator plants on a radiator just because of their name.

Final Thoughts

If your windows are all inconveniently close to your radiators, it can be frustrating trying to grow plants. Most will simply die in the unnatural conditions, but you may be able to get some to grow.

Here are some things you can do to help plants survive radiator heat:

  • Use a humidifier or humidifying tray to increase the moisture in the air
  • Remember to water them more frequently than others, but check they need it by pressing your finger into the soil to see how damp it is first.
  • If possible, put plants far above radiators, or to the side of them so that they aren’t suffering from a direct blast of heat.
  • If you have to put plants close to a radiator, turn the radiator down to minimize its impact on the plants

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