You Can Keep Houseplants Next to Radiators (If You Keep A Few Things In Mind)

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Just to be clear, I’m talking about the hot things that warm your house – not radiator plants, which are peperomias.

This is just a short and sweet article intended to assure people that putting plants near radiators isn’t that big of a deal.

If it were, this would be a bit of a bummer for us Brits because most of our radiators are underneath our windowsills, which is prime position for houseplants.

By the way, there is a reason radiators are put under windows. If you don’t you end up with a cold spot by the windows that can cause damp. Having radiators next to windows allows for the air to flow well and the different temperatures to merge together to keep a consistent temperature.

So don’t go moving your radiator for the sake of your plants – you’ll just end up freezing your plants instead.

Will radiators damage my houseplants?

As long as your plants aren’t touching your radiator and you keep them watered, you should be fine. It’s also a good idea to ensure you have relatively high humidity – anything over 60% should be absolutely fine.

Do not put your plants directly above a radiator. They’re fine on the windowsill next to it, but be careful about sitting them on radiator covers.

I say ‘be careful’, not ‘don’t do it at all ever’ because radiator covers don’t always get hot – they usually channel the heat out of the front of the cover. I wouldn’t recommend putting plants on top of radiators, covered or not, but also…it could work.

The other thing about windowsills is that if you pull the curtains closed with the plants on the outside of them, that can end up giving your plants cold shock.

So don’t leave this article feeling like you can put your plants near your radiator because I told you they’ll be okay and then accidentally freeze them.

In winter (when the radiators are on!), I move my plants off windowsills IF it’s a room that gets the curtains closed. The plants in the spare room, for example, sit between the radiator and the window and they’re fine. Well, fine for tropical plants in winter.

Which plants can I put near a radiator/heater?

Whilst some heaters work like radiators, some blow air, which can damage your plants. Heating vents are also not a great environment to put houseplants in.

When it comes to specific plant species, you really need to check how different the conditions around your radiators are in comparison to the rest of the room. You can do this with a couple of hygrometers – put one near your radiator and one further away and see how comparable they are.

If it’s waaay hotter near the radiator – like, over 25˚C, then you should really stick to plants that don’t mind arid conditions, such as succulents and cacti. These are also perfectly happy to be trapped behind a curtain in winter – as long as they don’t freeze they’re fine. The deserts they hail from get pretty chilly at night AND apparently the cold spell in winter can help with flowering the following year.

In general, easy-care plants should be ok near a radiator – Pothos, Monstera, peperomia, those guys. They might not love being near a radiator, but they won’t necessarily suffer.

My Ponytail palm, fiddle leaf fig, and rubber plants used to sit on a windowsill directly above my radiator. The radiator was only a few centimetres deep so they would have got the full blast and none of them complained. Incredible for a fiddle leaf fig!

Plants I wouldn’t put near a radiator

The usual suspects, Calathea and Alocasia, of course. Which is annoying because they like warmth and humidity. They would probably be fine three feet or more away from a radiator, but I wouldn’t put them closer than that.

I would hesitate to put begonias or aglaonema next to a radiator. They would *probably* be ok, but they wouldn’t enjoy the experience.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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