Office Plants
April 1, 2004 2:52 AM   Subscribe

I work in a fairly large, open plan air-conditioned office, next to a window. The window cannot be opened. I want to buy a plant that will sit on my desk, and preferably not die with minimal maintenance. I am not a gardener. :)

I want something leafy and bushy, no flowers, that will stand around half a metre high from base of pot to top of plant, and be almost as "wide", so as to act as something slightly more pleasant to look at instead of my neighbour.

posted by Mwongozi to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
In my experience, pothos is one of the loveliest, kindest, most forgiving and fastest growing of indoor plants. You can hang it from the ceiling and let the vines trail down (this happens pretty quickly so it won't take long for it to create quite a nice "screen"), or give it something to attach itself to, and it will grow upwards. It doesn't require a lot of care, and does well in a variety of light situations. More info here.
posted by taz at 4:52 AM on April 1, 2004

I was going to suggest the same thing as taz. they are very forgiving.
posted by evening at 5:13 AM on April 1, 2004

For leafy and tangly, philodendrons are good, and it's really hard to kill em. (you can tie them to stakes too, for more height) I think they're cousins to the pothos.
posted by amberglow at 5:40 AM on April 1, 2004

I kill plants like nobody's business (including spider plants and wandering jews, which are supposed to be indestructible) but I've had a pothos that I've used and abused but that has still managed to stay alive for almost four years. Super plants.

PS I have killed a philodendron, too.
posted by jennyb at 6:34 AM on April 1, 2004

(hoping the server will stay alive long enough to get this in...)

please, if anyone knows spanish (s american) names for these, could they post them? will any survive three weeks without watering?
posted by andrew cooke at 7:30 AM on April 1, 2004

I was going to suggest both the philodendron and the pathos as well (though I always thought they were just variations on the same plant)... another plant to consider would be sansiveria, colloquially known as "mother-in-law's tongue", "bar plant", "snake plant", "sword plant", among others (I imagine).

I love the ones I've had... and you can get them in a range of sizes.

Andrew: my sansiveria regularly go without water for extended periods... I would suggest, however, that you give them a good watering before the drought. As for Spanish names, I would suggest using the Latin nomenclature, and search for that using Google on Spanish language sites... barring success that way, I would suggest just using the pictures from the links provided to point at during a shopping trip.
posted by silusGROK at 7:46 AM on April 1, 2004

Besides seconding the fabulous Philodendron, I also favor Dracaena. They don't require much water, care, or light (although they don't mind it, either).
posted by obloquy at 11:13 AM on April 1, 2004

Question: the only windows in my apartment are over radiators, so if I put plants on top of the radiator, will they die from the heat? I'd love more plants, but I have nowhere else to put them where they'll get light.
posted by MsVader at 12:50 PM on April 1, 2004

Mwongozi , I work for a plant and flower company, and just posed your question to the owner. His recommendations: the many varieties of Dracaena, a Spathiphyllum (has inconsequential white flowers that just sort of disappear), a Philodendron, a Pothos or a climbing Pothos, a Dieffenbachia, or an Aglaonema. Any of these would do well in most lights, room temperatures, and exposures, and all are low-maintenance, don't usually get out of hand size-wise, full and bushy as opposed to open and airy, and would work well to hide behind ;)

andrew, you should email or call The Plant Science Library of The Arboretum of Los Angeles County. They have thousands of books at their disposal and will spend hours looking up info for you; they've helped me several times - they're great.
posted by iconomy at 1:22 PM on April 1, 2004

MsVader, the Pothos we mentioned doesn't need to be by a window, so you can put that somewhere else. I had a Prayer Plant by a radiator all winter, and it did okay. Just resist the urge to overwater to compensate; mine did sort of start getting a little pissed off when I did that. This page recommends misting. I've always had very good luck with these plants indoors.

Andrew - I think the pothos can probably handle not being watered for three weeks.
posted by taz at 1:25 PM on April 1, 2004

incidentally (as i search for translations - it seems that philodendron is a family of plants, not a single species), one of the few chilean sites that contains the word "pothos" implies that they are poisonous for pets (along with many other plants, so i guess maybe they are being very careful)
posted by andrew cooke at 1:32 PM on April 1, 2004

Schefflera seems to fit the bill.
posted by deborah at 6:21 PM on April 1, 2004

Well, I am not sure it meets your bushiness criteria, but a Spider Plant, or for you I guess a phalanx of Spider Plants, is pretty much impossible to kill. Lord knows I have put them to the test and it seems that almost no amount of neglect will deal the final blow. Even after a several week period where the soil dried out with huge gaping cracks (Dustbowl conditions) a little water brought it right back. Jennyb must have worked very hard to off her Spider Plant.
posted by caddis at 7:36 PM on April 1, 2004

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