Plant stands add vertical interest to any space -- even the space above a wall heater. Filling that empty space with plants brings a little bit of nature into your home. Sure, things will warm up when the heater kicks on, but if you choose materials and plants that can take the heat without getting cooked, it shouldn't be a problem.
Standing Up to Heat
Your first consideration in choosing the plant stand is the heater. You don't want to choose any material that is going to melt, such as plastic, if it is too close to or in contact with the heater. And although metal doesn't melt, it does conduct heat. So, for example, if you were thinking of placing a metal stand around the heater, but it would come into contact with the heater, you should reconsider -- the metal will get hot to the touch when the heater is on. It's not that plastic, metal or wood won't work -- just make sure the stand is far enough from the heater so it won't conduct heat, melt or catch on fire.
Back Against the Wall
A plant stand that surrounds a wall heater may block some of the heat coming from the sides of the heater, so your best bet is to attach something to the wall above the heater. Try attaching a piece from an old ladder horizontally on the wall above the heater for a rustic look. Or, use sleek metal shelves for a modern, industrial feel that might better match the style of your heater. Old kitchen cabinets can be installed above the heater and used as a plant stand. If you do want something that is free-standing, try a metal baker's rack -- many are open enough so heat can get through. Just make sure it doesn't touch the heater.
Blowing Hot Air
Cactuses and succulents are your best bet for plants that will stand up to the dry heat coming from the heater. If the plant stand is exposed to full sun, try aloe vera (Aloe vera), which stands up to dry, hot conditions well. Hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12, aloe vera is often grown indoors and has succulent leaves. Many sedums (Hylotelephium spp.) make excellent potted plants, according to the University of Illinois Extension. Try "Autumn Fire" sedum (Hylotelephium spectabile "Autumn Fire"), which features dense, pink flowers. Although this plant tolerates cold and is hardy in USDA zones 3 through 9, it also tolerates heat, drought and low-light conditions, making it a smart choice for a plant stand above a heater.
Not Just for Plants
Add interest to your stand and break up the space by placing other objects among the plants. A small mirror reflects light onto plants that need it, and artfully stacked books add color. Framed pictures add a personal touch, or include favorite collectibles such as pottery and candlesticks. Finally, change it up as the months pass by including seasonal decor like small pumpkins or flower arrangements.