Please recommend a unique house plant
March 28, 2012 6:46 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for a recommendation of a unique house plant/tree, and where to buy it.

We live in Georgia and would like to add a fun/interesting/unique house plant to our new home. I have been to a variety of plant stores and they tend to only have basic palms and the same plants you see all the time. I presume this is because those plants have the highest success rate and are easy to take care of. Nonetheless, we would like something different!

Ideally, the plant will be:
1. At least 3 feet tall
2. Able to withstand low/medium light conditions
3. Not toxic to a large dog
4. Not require excessive daily tending or pruning.
posted by 2legit2quit to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Phalaenopsis Orchids are non-toxic, but do like a bit of indirect sunlight. They are not particularly fussy. Not sure if you'd get one 3' tall, though. They're the ones you see for sale all over the place nowadays. Spider Plant might work, too, but you'd want to hang it or put it on a stand of some kind.

Another good candidate is Cast Iron Plant. The ASPCA maintains a plant database that lists what's toxic to dogs and cats, so you can always cross check interesting things you find at the nursery with their database.
posted by jquinby at 7:11 AM on March 28, 2012

After torturing and killing quite a few house plants, I finally wised up and bought a silk tree for indoors. These days, they are so amazingly life-like, you can't tell the difference. Right now, I have a four foot tall giant split-leaf philodendron which is dramatic and covers the air conditioner. A friend of mine asked me last week how I keep it so healthy...and is still none the wiser.

Maintenance is easy - use a hand-held blow dryer to blow the dust off weekly, and give it a wipe down once every three months or so.

Entry point is about $100, but after killing four or five $40 plants, it made sense. Take a look here, and do a little research until you find something you like.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:22 AM on March 28, 2012

Response by poster: I'm not interested in a fake tree. I want a legitimate conversation piece and I want the (potentially minimal) air purification a real plant offers.

Also, I should not, there is a ton of indirect sunlight in the room, just none direct in the corner I want to put this plant/tree.
posted by 2legit2quit at 7:25 AM on March 28, 2012

A Fiddle Leaf Fig sounds like it would meet your standards. They can get huge and beautiful.
posted by jocelmeow at 7:41 AM on March 28, 2012

Try a florist that carries plants.....and have them call their wholesaler for suggestions.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:59 AM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: The reason you see the same plants are generally because those tolerate less-than-ideal conditions better than most others and don't cost that much. Your height and light requirement narrows the odd plant pot down considerably. So types of dracaena, ficus, spathiphyllum, and sansevieria are probably your most common low-to-medium light houseplants. (Interior indirect sunlight is not as much light as even would probably be required to keep an indoor palm happy.) Picking one of those types of plants but a less common subtype - ficus longifolia instead of ficus benjamina for example or a sansevieria cylindrica - is one way to go. You could try a zz plant, though it will cost a lot if you want to buy one that's already three feet tall. A large aglaonema or ardisia elliptica would work. And there are a few bromeliads that grow that large.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:54 AM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: This is the kind of advice I am looking for.
posted by 2legit2quit at 10:58 AM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: Oh, was looking back at your question - toxicity-wise, I'd eliminate the ardisia elliptica from contenders, but there aren't a whole lot of great studies on toxicity in general. Here's a decent overview.
posted by vegartanipla at 11:49 AM on March 28, 2012

Best answer: Ugh, I'm so answering this piecemeal... I wanted to add for your initial query of where to get it that browsing whatever the big box store that's best in your area (in NYC it was Home Depot, in BR it's Lowes) as well as a good local nursery may turn it up; if not, talking to the ordering department at either place could end up with them ordering one for you. And Craigslist home/garden section or Freecycle sometimes has amazing cheap/amazing plants, plus posting to the Wanted category has garnered me houseplants before.
posted by vegartanipla at 12:04 PM on March 28, 2012

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