Cube farming
October 14, 2011 9:32 AM   Subscribe

I've read all the past threads on green office plants. Now help me find hardy -flowers- that can survive fluorescent light only.

My office plants would get about 10 hours of fluorescent light a day, and only safety lights in the evenings/weekend--and zero natural daylight.

But I feel like I'm drowning in gray and beige and I want something that blooms (not necessarily a flower, but something with flowers, or at least colors). My mom suggested a geranium, but don't they need sunlight?

I have seen recommendations in previous threads for spider plants, jade plants, pothos, and cacti, so no need to repeat those.

Low-maintenance would be a plus. Unkillable, better. :)
posted by thinkingwoman to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: actually, geraniums would probably be a good choice. Although they thrive in sunny conditions, they'll also manage a whole winter in my lower light conditions in my "sunroom" which isn't too particularly sunny--as in have to use grow lights when i start my seedlings in march or they'll be all spindly and pale. as in not bright enough to keep my ginger plants growing--the stalks go brown and dry up and i just leave the tubers in their dry pot until time to take them out in the spring.

what you might want to do is rotate them the way plant services do: have a plant in the office and when/if it starts to look puny, take it home, put it on a sunny windowsill and bring in a new one. when that one starts to get puny, take it home and bring in the windowsill one that by this time has perked back up. if that seems like ridiculous amounts of effort, heck, just chuck the puny one and buy a new one--they're pretty cheap and should hold up for months anyway.

geraniums are also the go-to plant for color in a range from bright orange through purple, and some varieties have interesting foliage to add to the show.

also, we're coming up on the time of year when amaryllis bulbs will start showing up in the stores for forcing at christmas. that's a very short-term color fix, but quite spectacular.
posted by miss patrish at 9:52 AM on October 14, 2011

Best answer: Logee's is my go-to place for indoor plants (both for our conservatory, which gets full sun, and for the rest of the house... which really does not). Here's their list of shade plants, some of which have beautiful flowers.

One that is almost certainly going to work for you is a Lipstick Plant or a Clivia or any Cape Primrose. Rotate them and you should be fine.

I've found that geraniums might work just fine or might get spindly, they're a little temperamental re: light (not about anything else, though, they're nigh indestructible otherwise).
posted by lydhre at 10:07 AM on October 14, 2011

Best answer: I am at this very moment surrounded by violets. The coworker who stewards them claims that this variety (African violet?) thrive on fluorescent light. The flowers themselves are small, but they at least aren't all green.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 10:22 AM on October 14, 2011

Best answer: African violets are my suggestion, too. You can get more interesting varieties, and once you have a few it's easy to take leaf cuttings and grow more. If you can plug in a small grow light at your desk, even if it's only on while you're there, then you can grow almost anything.
posted by anaelith at 11:44 AM on October 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My spider plants flower happily in my fluorescent-lit, no-windows lab cubicle.

Sanseveiria also thrive and are on NASA's list of top air-filtering plants. Plus, they have cool alternate names: Snake plant, mother-in-law's tongue.

Pothos also work very well, as you've seen, and my cube neighbor has a rubber plant that keeps adding leaves.

People who see my cube always call it a "jungle", but I really only have, um, like 10 containers of plants...

That reminds me to bring in some of the basil I've been growing, and I wonder if nurseries are having plant sales now? This could be bad... and by 'bad' I mean MOAR PLANTS! :D
posted by bookdragoness at 1:39 PM on October 14, 2011

Best answer: Peace lily (Spathiphyllum) — they absolutely thrive in the office environment at my workplace. I have to rotate mine every year or so because they're so happy here they grow too much and become root-bound, so at the end of the year I take one plant home for repotting and bring another one back.
posted by Lexica at 2:07 PM on October 14, 2011

Response by poster: bookdragoness: You mention basil. Do you think it would survive in an office? I saw some lovely, large potted basil plants on sale the other day. I love the smell.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:08 PM on October 14, 2011

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