Terror Plants!

September 3, 2010

Rheanna Sand



Lately, some public figures in the US have been fear-mongering about terror babies. Meanwhile, quietly lurking on porches and balconies across the continent are little ticking bombs, ready to spread a message of… plant angst! Or something like that.

Yes. Your seemingly innocent houseplants, if left for dead in a plastic pot, can spontaneously combust and incinerate your entire home. BE AFRAID!!

Okay, with the exception of the googly eyes gardener from SNL, or Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors, most of us aren't afraid of our houseplants. But, surprisingly, there have been at least three reported incidents in the past two years of plants causing fires.

In July 2008, a Minnesota house fire was traced back to an overheated flowerpot. In June of this year, another martyred houseplant caused more than $3000 damage to a Fredrick, Maryland townhouse. Then, a few days ago, on August 30th, a decomposing flowerpot burned its way through a front deck, lit the vinyl siding, and caused $25 000 in damage to an Arkansas home. Luckily, the heinous flowers didn't manage to hurt anyone.

So how do you protect yourself against terror plants? By understanding them. The heat results from organic matter decomposing in a closed environment. When large organic molecules break down into smaller molecules, the energy from the broken bonds must go somewhere , and it gets released as heat. And if this process is occurring on a hot, sunny porch, where flower pots tend to be, the heat may be enough to reach the flash point of plastic, around 180 degrees Celsius.

The lesson here? Take care of your houseplants. Don't let the terror plants win.



Email (optional)


© 2010 Science in Seconds. All rights reserved.     Disclaimer  |  Contact  |  Subscribe
Friend Science in Seconds on Facebook Follow Science in Seconds on Twitter Science in Seconds RSS Feed