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I have been wanting to supplement my heating system with some plants that produce heat! I have become aware that there are around 14 species which generate significant amounts of heat for example the eastern skunk cabbage.
However I have also read that many species which are thermogenic release odours such as the smell of rotting flesh. I would rather avoid plants which will make my house smell like this!
Are there any plants which produce heat which would be suitable for storing in my house?
Philodendron bipinnatifidum is a thermogenic houseplant. It is somewhat toxic, so not pet- or small-child-friendly, but commonly grown as a houseplant. However, I do not know if the heat generated would be enough to significantly impact your house; my impression is that most thermogenic plants merely warm their immediate surroundings (so you may need a LOT of plants). As a side note, your scheme to use plant-based-heating would probably also have good effects on air quality :)
The heat the plant produces ultimately comes from the light it uses. Unless the plant produces heat just in the wanted time (winter?) from light absorbed another time; then you would be just as warm by letting the light directly warm your environment regardless of plants.
How to Grow Philodendrons
The Philodendron genus contains hundreds of species of beautiful foliage plants. And many are commonly grown as houseplants. In fact, they’re often touted for their air-cleaning abilities indoors. Their leaves are typically large, green, and glossy, adding a touch of their native tropical jungles to your home.
There are two basic types of philodendrons: the vining plants and the non-climbing plants. The vining plants grow vines of several feet and need some sort of support structure to climb on, such as a trellis or around a basket. The non-climbing types have an upright growth habit and make for excellent foliage plants in containers. In general, philodendrons have a fast growth rate. They’re best planted in the spring, but houseplants typically can be started at any time of year with success.
|Mature Size||1–20 ft. tall, 1–6 ft. wide (varies by species)|
|Soil Type||Loamy, well-drained|
|Hardiness Zones||9–11 (USDA)|
|Native Area||Central America, South America|
|Toxicity||Toxic to pets and people|
Watch Now: How to Grow and Care for a Philodendron Plant
Ammonia and Plants
Ammonia is present in soil, water and air, and it is an important source of nitrogen for plants. Nitrogen promotes plant growth and improves fruit and seed production, resulting in a greater yield. It's also essential for photosynthesis, which is the process in which plants convert light energy into chemical energy. The ammonia that's present in household cleansers is diluted in water, forming aqueous ammonia, and ammonium and hydroxide ions. Although ammonium ions are effective as fertilizer, the aqueous ammonia is toxic and can damage or kill seedlings.
Prayer Plant Varieties
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Maranta leuconeura is the most popular variety. A low-growing perennial, it has patterned green, two-toned leaves that grow to form a large clump from rhizomes, or creeping root stalks. The leaf blotching pattern becomes more vivid with maturity, and the leaves grow up and outwards, overlapping each other.
Leaves’ undersides are a reddish color, and at maturity the Maranta leuconeura will grow to around 12 inches tall. If you look carefully in summertime, you may see the small white flowers that emerge on slender stems. The Latin term “leuconeura” means white-veined: the leaves also show this subtle characteristic.
The “Herringbone Plant”, otherwise known as “M. leuconeura erythroneura”, is another popular variety of this slow-growing evergreen. In this species, leaves have strong red veining on dark green leaves, with a pale yellow-green midrib. The undersides of the leaves are a brighter, deeper red which contrasts perfectly when folded up at night.
This is a really stunning variety, particularly effective when used in hanging baskets or planted en masse.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Another good variety is the Maranta “Rabbit’s Foot Plant”. This one is also known as “M. leuconeura kerchoveana”, which is bit of a mouthful. The mid-green leaves on this particular variety are marked with dark brown blotches spaced between deep green leaf veins. In summertime, intermittent white-mauve flowers appear on long slender stems.
There are numerous varieties of Maranta: I’ve only named the best few in this article. All of these varieties are distinguished by their leaf patterns and coloration, and each one has a distinct personality. If you’re aiming to add a few to your own space, it’s best to have a look for yourself and determine which are your favorites.
Best Houseplants for Low Light
Adding plants to the house is a favorite way to bring a little lift to any room. Having plants around makes everything feel lighter, brighter, and more alive. Houseplants add color and texture to a room, purify the air, and just look nice.
The Biology of Low Light Indoor Plants
A handful of tropical, broad-leaf plants are primed for low-light situations through basic biology: large leaves that soak up as much light as possible. Most of them evolved on the tropical forest floor shaded by the larger sun-loving trees all around them. Some also have a waxy outer layer that helps to retain moisture and makes them double-duty crowd-pleasers and low-maintenance indoor plants as well.
How to Care for Low Light Plants Indoors
It is generally true that low light plants don’t require much water, so caring for them can be as simple as planting them in well-drained soil and watering on a semi-regular basis.
Houseplants to Grow in Low-Light Areas
Aglaonema (Chinese Evergreen)
Aglaonema has striking variegated leaves in shades of red, pink, yellow, and green. Place this plant in a space that needs some color and you will not have any need for flowers.
Chinese evergreens thrive in low-light areas and they are also very drought tolerant, so if you forget to water it for a while there will be no harm done. Perfect for people new to houseplants or those who consider themselves “black thumb gardeners.
The older hybrids, mostly colored green, can take low light and grow well. The newer colorful hybrids need medium light and do well in an east or west window. If placed in low light, they will lose their bright coloration.
Chamaedorea elegans (Parlor Palm)
Also known as Neanthebella Palm, this is the best choice in palms for a low light location. Suitable to situate on a tabletop or floor, like all palms check the soil moisture regularly.
Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)
Spider plants love low light and do not require much attention other than occasional watering when the soil feels dry. They send out long spindly leaves and small white flowers that will cascade down the edge of their container, making them a great choice for an indoor hanging basket.
Dieffenbachia spp. (Dumbcane)
Dieffenbachia is one of the easiest and most popular indoor houseplants to grow. Many species offering colorful leaves with bright patterns prefer medium light but will tolerate low light very well. Allow the soil to dry out in between waterings.
Dracaena fragrans (Corn Plant)
These low-maintenance houseplants need to be placed somewhere that doesn’t get any direct sunlight and water occasionally, being careful not to overwater.
Keep in mind that corn plant is toxic to cats and dogs, so if you have a furry friend that likes to chew on the houseplants, skip this one.
Epipremnum aurem (Pothos/ Devils’s Ivy)
One of the most popular plants for hanging in a low-light spot, this one’s for you! Plant it in a basket or up on a pedestal and watch the variegated green leaves trail down in an elegant display.
Maranta leuconeura (Prayer Plant)
Marantha leuconeura is a good choice if you want something with a low light indoor plant with bright foliage to add a pop of color to a drab area of the house because its leaves have variegation in rich green, purple, yellow, and red.
This houseplant needs to be kept out of direct sunlight to help keep the variegated pattern on the leaves vibrant. Plant it in well-draining soil and check soil moisture regularly. The leaves will point upwards at night like hands in prayer, which is where it got its common name “prayer plant.”
Sansevieria (Snake Plant)
Snake plants are known for being difficult to kill, so they are perfect for a small windowless bathroom, stairway, or bedroom corner. Sansevieria is a type of succulent, which means it retains water in its leaves and can be easy to overwater. Pay attention and only water when the soil feels completely dry to the touch, every three weeks or so.
Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)
These pretty houseplants have lush, dark green leaves and delicate white flowers, but in addition to being beautiful, they also do an exceptional job of cleaning the air and keeping it healthy for us. Peace lilies do well in dark or bright areas, so feel free to place these all over your home if you like!
These plants like to be kept moist and humid, so water regularly to keep your peace lily happy and blooming. If you aren’t watering it enough, you will know because the leaves will droop. Don’t worry, if you see this happening just give it a good drink and watch it perk back up in no time.
Zamioculcas zamiifolia (Zam Zam Plant)
Not only does this houseplant grow happily in low-light areas of the home, but it is also very low maintenance and can be left alone with no attention at all for long periods of time, so you can go on vacation and not worry about coming home to a dead plant. Its glossy, bright green leaves add a cheerful pop of color to any dark space.
Bioluminescence is more common in animals but algea and plankton do exhibit it. A kickstarter project to make a plant that glows in the dark is in development.
This article shows a picture of a beach in the Maldives glowing at night due to the action of phytoplankton.
At the moment there are no vascular or higher order plants like grass that glow in the dark naturally.
With a bit of genetic tinkering almost anything could glow in the dark.
I haven't heard of or seen plants that glow in the dark naturally, though some species of mycelium do naturally glow in the dark:
Some many years ago while camping somewhere in Minnesota we setup camp and used a large rotting log for a seat. When it got dark I started noticing some light from below and to our surprise the whole log was glowing. The glowing species must be common in that area because we started finding it all over the place.
I expect you read this article in New Scientist or one similar to it:
Kyle Taylor, a founder of Glowing Plant, splices firefly genes into plants and wants to demystify the process by showing you how to do it at home
So how do you make these plants glow? Essentially we take genes from bioluminescent organisms – such as fireflies and bioluminescent bacteria – and insert them into the plant. So the plants have an eerie blue-green glow.
How much light do the plants emit? Should I toss out all of my light bulbs? At this point, no. They are still pretty weak, but they are visible in a dark room. Plants didn't evolve to emit light, they evolved to absorb it. But you have to start somewhere, and this is our starting point.
It's not really about the plants, it's about demystifying GMO. That said, they got their kickstarter funding and now say they will start to ship this fall.
5. Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)
Rated as one of the best plants for removing trichloroethylene from the air, the Dracaena is also one of the easiest houseplants to grow. The mature plant reaches 10 feet in height with a spread of three feet, and can live for decades if properly maintained.
These plants do best in indirect sunlight coming from the east/west, or semi-shade. They can adapt to lower light levels if the watering is reduced. Keep the soil evenly moist and never let the plant get soggy. In the same way, avoid letting the root ball dry out completely. Water less frequently in the winter months. Mist frequently with warm water, removing any dead leaves. (Leaf tips will go brown if the plant is under watered but this browning may be trimmed.) If possible, avoid fluoridated water, since these plants can be sensitive to fluoride.
In spring and summer, feed with liquid fertilizer every two weeks. Refrain from fertilizing during the wintertime. Repot using a commercial potting soil every other year. The plant’s ideal temperature range is 60-70 F (16-24 C). The plant can survive in lower temperatures (as low as 50 F or 10 C), but the leaves may suffer, turning yellow. They are also susceptible to mites, scale insects, and mealybugs—more so when the air is too dry. Keep humidity above 40% and remove insects when they appear with a wash of soapy water.
List of Plants That Grow Without Sunlight
Dracaena is a beautiful houseplant that you can grow at home. There are about 50 species of it. It’s one of the easy to grow houseplants.
Occasional pruning and regular watering are important for dracaena. Keep the plant away from direct sun and avoid overwatering.
Check out some of the best indoor Dracaena varieties here
2. Bromeliads Bromeliad is a perfect plant to grow indoors, most of the varieties of this plant thrive easily in a container in the shade. Indeed, it is a tropical plant, but you can grow it anywhere, indoors. It can even grow in luminescent light.
Here are some of the major problems you need to keep in check that kills houseplants
3. Maidenhair Fern
When it comes to ferns that are popular, maidenhair fern is one you should consider. The dark and glossy leafstalk resembles human hair, and it looks great.
Be sure to water frequently (avoid overwatering) and keep this houseplant in indirect sun.
Here are some of the best hanging ferns you can grow
4. Parlor Palm Most popular indoor palm variety, it’s an excellent houseplant for almost any situation, it grows even in those dim corners where nothing else will grow. It requires only minimal care and moderate light. It produces clusters of tiny yellow flowers in spring however, they don’t appear in low light conditions. Water only when soil is dry otherwise, you’ll kill your plant.
Want to grow indoor palms? Here are some of the best types
5. Umbrella Papyrus (Palm)
Umbrella palm is an evergreen ornamental plant, best grown indoors or in shady and a boggy spot in the garden. Many houseplant enthusiasts find this plant easy enough to grow and maintain.
It requires a constantly moist substrate. You can place the umbrella palm pot over the tray filled with water.
6. Mother-in-law’s Tongue (Snake Plant)
Mother-in-law’s tongue is a low maintenance plant also known as a snake plant. It’s a very durable and popular houseplant. Its ability to tolerate darkness is amazing. One more interesting fact about this houseplant is–It’s a succulent!
Check our out our article on growing snake plant here
7. Creeping Fig
It’s a slow-growing creeper with small, leathery dark green foliage. Vigorous-growing, clinging, dense branches adhere to any surface and look enchanting.
Be careful not to overwater creeping fig. Let the soil dry out before watering spells .
Philodendron easily adapts to low-light conditions, and growing them is similar to pothos. They come in both vine and shrub form .
The soil must be constantly moist but not wet. It’s best if the soil dries out slightly between watering spells.
Here is everything you need to know about Philodendron care
9. Calathea (Peacock Plant) One of the most beautiful foliage plants you should grow in your home. It grows well in light shade, but the plant is demanding, it has a specific minimum temperature of 55 F (13 C) requirement that should be maintained. It prefers frequent watering (watering should be done according to the light condition and temperature) and slightly moist soil. 10. Maranta leuconeura (Prayer Plant)
Calatheas are tropical plants and a bit difficult to grow in cooler climates, and so the prayer plant, but it is one alternative you can go for, it is comparatively easy to grow plant than calathea. It grows well in moderate light without direct access to the sun. If the plant is kept in too much light, the leaves begin to curl and wither.
Watch out for pests, especially spider mites.
11. Boston Fern
Boston fern can become a beautiful evergreen houseplant. Like other houseplants, don’t place this in direct sunlight but provide it all day long, bright indirect sunlight.
It grows well in acidic soil. Keep the soil lightly moist but well-draining. It loves humid surroundings, so do regular misting to maintain the humidity levels.
12. Peperomia Peperomia is a small striking adorable houseplant that grows up to only 6 inches tall. Due to its thick foliage, it is often considered succulent, which is not true. Peperomia likes slightly moist soil and humidity, but watering should be reduced in winter. S praying the plant’s leaves is helpful in maintaining the humidity level. 13. Devil’s Ivy (Golden Pothos/Money Plant) Commonly known as the money plant in South East Asia, it’s widely grown as a houseplant in Asian countries. This extremely low maintenance vine grows easily without direct sunlight. Excellent climber, you can grow it even in the bathroom, kitchen, or living room. It is known for its ability to clean the Carbon Monoxide from the air.
To know how to care for a pothos plant, click here
14. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema)
Chinese Evergreen plants are one of the best plants to grow indoors that don’t require constant, direct sunlight. If you are someone who’s new to growing houseplants, this is the plant you should start with.
15. Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra Elatior)
The cast iron plant is very forgiving by nature, a great plant if you are always busy and forget about the maintenance. It is very much happy staying indoors without the sun. Just wipe its leaves clean with a damp cloth once a week or so, and provide it bright indirect light.
16. Orchids (Orchidaceae)
One of the key points in growing orchids the right way is to provide them indirect sunlight. Coming in an astonishing array of colors, varieties, and mesmerizing fragrances, exotic and graceful orchids are your best bet!
17. Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena sanderiana)
According to Feng Shui, it attracts positive vibes and good fortune. It’s one of the best office desk and tabletop plants. Compact in nature, you can also grow it in water in corners of your home that receive some bright light in the day. We also added it to our list of best Office Desk Plants.
Here’s all you need to know about growing Lucky Bamboo
18. Staghorn Fern (Platycerium)
If you can maintain this one right, Staghorn Fern is the right choice for you! It’ll save you from the hassles of placing it near a sunlight source every few days.
19. ZZ Plant (Zamioculcasi)
Not only this plant looks really good with its attractive, glossy foliage–It is a plant that you can forget about when it comes to sunlight. ZZ grows well indirect light and absolutely love the shaded areas of the house. The only requirement is the warmer surroundings.
Check out some astonishing benefits of ZZ Plant here
20. Peperomia (Peperomia)
What makes these plants perfect for your tabletop is the fact they are one of the best plants that grow without sunlight. Place them near a window that allows them to absorb indirect light throughout the day.
21. Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia)
If you can keep this plant away from your pets and children, it can be a welcoming addition to your home. It’s a toxic houseplant, so be careful about the placement. It does really well in filtered light, making it a perfect houseplant for low light areas!
Here are some of the most amazing benefits Dumb Cane has on offer
22. Japanese Sedge (Carex morrowii)
Japanese sedge is a shade-loving ornamental grass, it grows well indoors. It requires a spot that receives bright indirect sunlight.
23. Spider Plant
Imagine the graceful variegated foliage of a spider plant dangling down with unique spiderettes in hanging baskets. Isn’t it enough to entice you to grow it? Also, it l ikes indirect light and one of the best air-purifying plants.
Direct sun light often causes the burning of leaves.
24. Peace Lily
If you’re looking for a houseplant with health benefits, acquire a peace lily. Also, it is forgiving and requires low care. I ncredibly easy to grow, peace lily flourishes in shady locations.
25. Silver Queen (Aglaonema) Silver queen is a very beautiful plant. It’s one of the most durable houseplants that thrive in low light, it’s an ideal plant for beginners too. However, the plant is extremely cold sensitive. 26. Aloe Vera
The most popular and number one houseplant of the United States these days, and rightly so. This medicinal plant can grow in direct sunlight, but it tolerates full shade too. Learn everything about growing aloe vera here.
Small and Tiny Terrarium Plants
Small terrarium plants are the ones that you can include in a classic, closed, jar-type terrarium, but also in many other types of terrarium setups. Their lighting requirements tend to vary, so pay attention to that particular aspect when planning.
Mosses are everyone’s choice for first experiments with terrariums, but also a keeper for many experienced terrarium designers.
Besides the fact that they are free and easy to find outdoors, mosses have a unique visual appeal. Also, they are virtually care-free and can be left in a closed terrarium for years with no interventions. They are also the most tolerant to low-light conditions.
Mosses are primitive, non-vascular plants that reproduce by spores. Although we often use the term “moss” as a singular, there are at least 12,000 moss species around the world. Obviously, not all of them live in your backyard, but you will surely be able to find several species with different textures and shades of green. That variety will add depth and playfulness to your terrarium moss patch.
Nerve plant (Fittonia)
Low growth, small leaf size, love for moisture and attractive nervature makes Fittonia one of terrarium favorites.
The main feature of Fittonias is the leaves’ nerves, which come in three colors – red, pink, and white. All varieties are beautiful in their own way. You can combine the two to create stunning terrarium landscapes.
Nerve plants are native to tropical rainforests, so they thrive in conditions similar to the rainforest floor – soft, indirect light, and high humidity.
Pinch back regularly to keep the plant compact.
Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya)
If you prefer dots and irregular shapes in place of straight lines, “polka dot” is a plant for you. It can grow to be 12-20 inches tall. If circumstances are favorable, it will also produce interesting, tiny lilac flowers in the summer.
Unlike many other terrarium-friendly plants, it prefers bright light – in low light conditions, its leaves will turn dull green. That is why the polka dot plant is especially valuable to consider if you plan to have your terrarium in partial sun.
The drawback – especially for should-be long-lasting terrarium setups – is that H. phyllostachya withers away quickly after flowering. Even if you prevent the plant from flowering by removing the emerging flower stem, it will get leggy with age and will eventually need to be replaced. Pinching to keep the plant compact extends its lifetime a bit.
Luckily, the cuttings can be easily rooted to create new plants to replace the old one. You can just stick a cutting into the moist substrate. If you let the plant complete its lifecycle, you can also propagate it by seeds.
There is a decent number of polka dot cultivars, with leaves that are green, white, pink, and/or carmine. The colors can appear in the form of dots, stains or streaks. Shades of green can also vary.
Starfish plant (Cryptanthus bivittatus)
Starfish plant, also known as Earth Star, is an attractive little Brasilian plant with humble needs. The main reason Starfish plant is an all-time terrarium favorite is its shape, and also its vivid coloration. Its average height is only 6 inches, which makes it great for small terrariums, and ideal to take foreground position.
Starfish plants like humidity and prefer bright to moderate light. The brighter the light, the more expressed are its colors.
Be careful when planting your starfish – each of its 10 to 12 leaves has a series of tiny spikes on the edges. They don’t break off and can’t get stuck in your skin, but still, they can give you an uncomfortable surprise if you are not careful.
Baby Tears (Soleirolia soleirolii)
Baby tears is a plant known for its ability to form mats of tiny, vividly green, bean-shaped leaves that will spread over everything and “spill” over the sides of a pot. In a terrarium, they are ideal to fill out empty spots.
This plant thrives in high humidity. Keep them out of direct sunlight and by all means, prevent dry conditions. Also, do not handle the plant roughly, as the little branches are brittle and the plant can be damaged relatively easily during improper handling.
The Aluminum Plant (Pilea cadierei)
Another plant with exquisite-looking decorative little leaves is the aluminum plant or Watermelon pilea. This Vietnamese jewel got its name for the fact that the silvery raised patches on the leaves resemble aluminum foil. Also, when viewed as a whole, the leaves look like tiny watermelons.
The aluminum plant is a typical modest tropical plant that prefers low to medium light and is adapted to warm temperatures.
You will need to pinch it back from time to time to promote bushy growth. The plant grows quickly, so there is no need to be scared of pinching back for that reason. It roots easily, so you can use the pinched parts to create new plants.
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