What plants & mosses will grow will in a terrarium in an office with only florescent lighting (no windows)?
November 19, 2008 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Plant-filter: which plants/mosses for an office terrarium if the office has no windows and only florescent lighting? (something like this?)

I work in a relatively small office with no windows and, for now, no plants. The lighting is from (fairly bright) ceiling florescent bulbs only.

I've seen some great smallish terrariums that would be great, but they all suggest "indirect sunlight" ... will my florescent lights be enough to keep a little moss/plant filled terrarium healthy and growing?

Great examples that made me want to try this:

"The Apple"
White dish with moss
Glass cholche

I'll also probably get a spider plant, but I really like the terrariums!

If you know where to buy a prepared terrarium or supplies to build my own I'd be really glad to hear about it. But my main question is, what plants, mosses, lichen, etc will work well in my florescent light only environment?

Thanks again green-thumbed mefites!
posted by unclezeb to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Don't know about mosses, but I have a pothos plant that stays healthy with minimal attention in my windowless office. It seems to help to have a form in the pot for the vines to grow on.
posted by zepheria at 1:25 PM on November 19, 2008

Best answer: Fluorescent lighting is the best indoor lighting for plants. A fluorescent light generates about 10 watts of light per square foot. Generally, "low light" plants need about 10-15 watts of light per square foot.

Are the lights in your office kept on during weekends? You may want to get a little desktop fluorescent to supplement the existing light and to provide light on weekends if the other lights are off.

The aluminum plant is nice choice. It's named for the shiny markings on the leaves and it loves high humidity (it grows in Vietnam) which an enclosed terrarium environment will provide for it. The only drawback is that it tends to grow fast, so you may have to clip it back to fit its environment. The good news is that it's easy to root in a glass of water, so you will have baby plants to give to all of your friends.

I love the delicate look of a plant called baby's tears, but from experience, the humidity in a closed terrarium is too high for it.

Sansaverias are indestructable and will grow anywhere!

For moss, I would probably scavange some up and see how it does. I would imagine that almost any moss would be suitable for a terrarium.
posted by Ostara at 2:24 PM on November 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Excellent tips folks, I'm now fairly interested in making this a project for the weekend to distract from some less than fun stuff I otherwise have been dealing with.

No telling with Ms. Zeb will say when I show up with a fist full of moss from the park though =)

Any more suggestions?
posted by unclezeb at 2:42 PM on November 19, 2008

Best answer: I've been planning a terrarium and just came across this site from University of Missouri Extension. It looks like a great tutorial for creating both open and closed terrariums. At the bottom of the page, there is a list of plants and their ideal conditions (height, light, temperature, humidity, etc).
posted by wsquared at 3:04 PM on November 19, 2008

Would you like some flowers?

You might try an African Violet. See the section of the page about artificial light. My mother used to root new African Violet plantlets in a plastic terrarium. In your case, I'd probably buy a cheap African Violet at the supermarket and grow it outside the terrarium so that I could experiment with where to place it relative to the light source.
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:04 PM on November 19, 2008

Best answer: African violets grow from leaves, so if you could acquire one somehow it might be a fun experiment. Generally they like bright (but not hot) conditions, and they hate water on their leaves. You could grow one with a little extra light from a desk lamp.

I took an old fishbowl once - one of those that is kind of like a sphere that has been flattened vertically on two sides - and made a terrairum out of that. I layered colored sand in the bottom 1/3, did soil in the next 1/3 and then planted some very tiny plants. It was fun and colorful.

Avoid those pincushion plants that seem to be popular right now - they have gute little orange berries on them, but need very specialized growing conditions.

It's fun to accessorize your terrarium with stuff from the miniature aisle of the craft store, too!

Moss collecting is fun for the whole family - don't knock it.
posted by Ostara at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2008

Moss (as I am familiar with it) likes to be cool and damp in the shade (which is why lichens and stuff will only grow on one side of a bunch of trees). But - there are a lot of really pretty ferns which love hot steamy conditions! Plus they are really simple to care for and have a tendency to bounce back if things go wrong anyway.

I really like ferns, I find their leaves quite 'friendly', but my SO likes AC. Ferns do not like AC! So I was going to make terrariums with ferns and neat rocks. But then my ferns got root gnats and I just couldn't save them in time, Grrr.
So all I can tell you is - Yes, I have the exact same plan (almost, mine were going to get filtered sunlight - but if yours seem sad you can get a little light bulb that will do the trick) and in theory, yes it should work out just great.

I think they're called hot houses or glass houses or something? People grow Orchids in them, and those people definitely know their shit. Here, wikipedia might be able to start you off anyway. :)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 5:16 AM on November 20, 2008

Response by poster: My list of good low light plant options so far:
[those with an * are confirmed to be growing in my building or similar circumstances, i.e., only fluorescent lights, no natural light]

*Aglaonema pseudobracteatum (Chinese Evergreen)
*Chlorophytum comosum (Spider Plant)
Dracaena marginata (Dragon Tree)
*Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant, Mother-In-Law's Tongue)
*Ficus maclellandii (Alii Ficus)
Scindapsus pictus (Devil's Ivy)
Philodendron scandens (Heart Ivy, Heart-leaf Philodendron)
Hedera helix (English Ivy)
Nephrolepis exaltata (Boston Fern, Sword Fern)
Ficus benjamina (Weeping Fig, Benjamin Fig)
Gerbera Daisy
*Peace Lily, White Sails
Red Edge Dracaena
Howea forsterana (Kentia Palm)
Bird's Nest Sansevieria
Pilea Moon Valley

As for mosses and lichen it seems these can be found and harvested fairly easily, though other ideas on where to find them are welcome.

Helpful sites I've found after searching for some of the plants others mentioned here:
Garden Web thread
Yahoo Answers thread
Article on 8 low light plants
posted by unclezeb at 12:07 PM on November 20, 2008

Response by poster: Ended up with a golden pathos (doing great, 10 out of 10) and a wandering jew (doing pretty well, 8.5 out of 10) but looks great!

Thanks everyone!
posted by unclezeb at 3:36 PM on December 23, 2008

« Older I'm trying to recreate a nuclear apocalypse   |   Excel Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.