House and building fires can be caused by artificial plants catching fire, and some fire codes require that artificial plants in public places be fire retardant. According to a survey performed by Commercial Silk Int'l, most states require artificial plants to be fire retardant, especially those in public buildings. Contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal in your state for questions or for specific requirements.
Inherently Fire Retardant Foliage
Inherently fire-retardant (IFR) foliage incorporates fire-retardant materials into the manufacturing process. Before the plants are produced, fire-retardant chemicals are spread through the materials that form the stems, leaves and base of the foliage. The fire-retardant materials are molded into an artificial plant. These chemicals never wear off or decrease in strength, and the foliage looks the same as a non-fire-retardant plant. The plant is structurally sound.
Topically Fire Retardant Foliage
Topically fire-retardant (TFR) foliage is either sprayed or dipped into fire-retardant chemicals after the artificial plant is manufactured. This process may not be as effective as IFR methods because the chemicals are not infused into the materials and could wear off in time. If the topical fire retardant is reapplied, the plants could appear wilted, and a spotty film might appear. A topically treated fire-retardant plant is still less likely to burn than a non-fire-retardant plant, and is therefore safer.
People can apply a fire-retardant spray on regular silk plants themselves to produce fire-retardant foliage. Polymer formulas can be sprayed onto the plant as a fine mist and will be clear when they dry. These sprays are odorless, nontoxic and biodegradable. Be sure the bottle states that the product meets national standards as a flame retardant. Fire-retardant sprays are available through online distributors, at painting stores and at home improvement stores. According to Care2.com, people can make their own fire-retardant spray by combining seven ounces of Borax with three ounces of boric acid and two quarts of hot water in a spray bottle.