What small plant(s) would like to live in my shower niche?
August 19, 2014 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Instead of placing soap in the platform of my shower designed to hold soap, I would like to have one or a few small plants grow there. What species should I be considering for this periodically moist environment? Difficulty level: history of repeat herbicide. & I want these plants to quietly flourish.
posted by bertran to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Does your shower have sun?
posted by sciencegeek at 4:55 PM on August 19, 2014

Response by poster: No direct sunlight; some indirect sunlight from a north-facing window in an adjacent room.

(Thanks for question! Light being basic for plants...)
posted by bertran at 5:01 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

The only light source is from an adjacent room? You're going to need to put in some sort of grow light if you want to grow anything other than fungus...
posted by Specklet at 5:11 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't understand your disclaimer, but how about Tillandsia (aka airplant)? They are pretty hardy and grow without soil. Other than that, fern is considered a good bathroom plant.

Also this Apartment Therapy article might be helpful.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:12 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: (By saying there had been history of 'herbicide' I meant that in the past, plants have died in my care.)
posted by bertran at 5:29 PM on August 19, 2014

You want Epipremnum aureum or money plant. We have tons of plants in a shaded bathroom and operate in a Darwinian what survives neglect schedule. The money plants thrive and grow in shade, humidity, occasional child attacks etc. Ferns do okay but need shifting out of the bathroom every 2-3 months usually from overwatering. I have orchids too as living vases - when they fade or die I rotate them to the yard and put another one in, every month or so.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:02 PM on August 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I grow plants in my bathroom, but think it would be tricky with that little light. If you would consider fake plants, I have seen some really realistic-looking cute little succulents (this is not the exact brand, but similar). A friend of mine also has a vase of dried flowers in the bathroom, which also looks good.
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:18 PM on August 19, 2014

There is not any plant that is going to flourish under those lighting conditions. Consider something you can swap in and out as it starts to to look peaked with another plant from some part of your house with sufficient light. Pothos is a decent choice.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:04 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a bromeliad flourish in my bathroom for quite a while, but it was on the sink/counter rather than in the shower itself. Thinking of it now, it probably would have been fine within the shower itself *except* that it does need soil to grow, and so then you run into the problem of the shower water constantly overrunning the pot and leading to soil everywhere in the tub and a clogged drain. In what kind of medium are you planning to *plant* these plants?

If you want to use a vase of water instead of soil, I would recommend pothos. Wandering jew might be OK, too, but it has more trouble with lower light levels than pothos does. Lucky Bamboo will do well in water longterm, but they do better in vases/bottles with narrower mouths, because the narrow mouth helps prop them up.

Anthurium does well in water, but it's a little trickier in terms of light (it needs about as much as the wandering jew, maybe a bit less) and the size of the vase (it'll need to pot-shaped, basically, with a fairly wide mouth, without being too deep). Peace lilies are part of the same family and do well in low light and can handle a lot of moisture, but they get very large and imo they do better with soil than with water and aren't quite as water-loving as anthuriums are. YMMV, though -- they're something to consider if you want a plant for the counter or something. If you use just water as the planting medium, *don't* do ferns, because they eventually die that way. On the other hand, they'd be a good option for a countertop plant. They'd need more light than a peace lily but would love the moisture in a bathroom.

If you put in a grow light (or just a full-spectrum daylight (compact or not) fluorescent bulb), to be honest), you could probably get china doll and croton growing in just water, too. I'd say you should just put daylight bulbs in your vanity fixture, but you might not spend enough time in the bathroom for that to work. If I were you, I'd use a clamp-light (clamped onto the vanity fixture, probably) with a CFL and put it on a timer, but that might not be the look you're going for!
posted by rue72 at 7:08 PM on August 19, 2014

Re: tillandsia: even the shade growing types need 2000-4000 footcandles of indirect light to thrive. For reference, the average light in homes is generally in the 10-100 footcandle range, with a reading light being at about 50. There's more information about lighting and indoor plants here. Most of my houseplants rotate in and out of the backyard and various rooms because providing enough light for really happy plants is tough.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:14 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I obviously have not thought through the light issues... A grow light or full-spectrum light isn't out of the question.

The platform is like a quarter circle of 7" radius. I was imagining a small pot or pots, or maybe something like moss or the air plant mentioned which would sit right on the platform. It's elevated, so the idea of hanging leafy branches is nice. Shower water does not standardly reach the platform.
posted by bertran at 7:30 PM on August 19, 2014

I have a Boston fern that thrived in my bathroom in a previous house, for three years, which got no direct light at all, but had a small frosted window nearby (that never got direct sun on it even without the frosting). The bathroom was never light enough that you would be able to read in it without the lights on, so it had nowhere near the 2000 footcandles oneirodynia mentions.

I'm not recommending a Boston fern, by the way, because they are bigger than you would want. I'm just saying the light issue may not be insurmountable, although it sounds like your shower would have even less light than my bathroom did.
posted by lollusc at 8:57 PM on August 19, 2014

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