Houseplants forum: Good office plants?

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(Zone 5a)
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lemonFresh
Mar 6, 2018 11:19 AM CST
I want a little more green in my life! What are your favorite plants for the office?
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 6, 2018 3:36 PM CST
The best plants are the ones that will do well and the ones that will do well are the ones that get appropriate light. There are some low light plants that do well in windowless offices or cubicles far from a window as long as they get overhead fluorescent lighting 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. There are other plants that do well close to or in front of a sunny window.

If you provide more specific information about the light in the location(s) you have in mind, I might be able to make specific recommendations. My favorites may not be yours, but I can tell you what will work well. I do this for a living.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Deb
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Bonehead
Mar 6, 2018 4:38 PM CST
I will defer to Will, but when I worked in an office my favs were a peace lily which we used as a water indicator (when it drooped everyone got a drink) and a ponytail palm which I just found cool looking (it was pretty large). Not sure what their light needs were, we had lots of windows. I do recall some sort of cast iron plan in the hallway that did well with no exterior light at all, just the overhead fluorescents.
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Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 6, 2018 6:28 PM CST
Deb - Peace Lilies are good indicators, but only for themselves. They droop quickly and pathetically if they get the least bit too dry, but they do perk up after a good soak.

Ponytails need some natural light and unlike the Peace Lily, must be kept dry.

Cast Iron Plants (Aspidistra) are good in low light as you described.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
Name: Sally
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sallyg
Mar 6, 2018 7:03 PM CST
Will knows best of course.

I have had office plants, dorm room plants, and now library plants.

The most durable in the library, with fluorescent light 9 am to 9 pm, and occasional shots of angled sunlight, and very dry air (humidity running around 25% last few weeks that I have been watching): pothos, Dracaena braunii (lucky bamboo), Aglaonema (older green and white/silver ones, not the new pink/red ones). The peace lily I had there just kept drying out too fast, and losing a couple yellow leaves each time. I would suggest those three as good starters in a typical artificial light office. The pothos will trail or hang, the Ag is a bushy compact sort, and the Dracaena makes a nice narrow upright form, good to fit in a corner and not get in the way.
other Dracaena may be good as well. I have a Warneckii that seems happy.

We used to have a heartleaf Philodendron that was quite a survivor as well.
Edit to add: I was looking at the selection of small starters at Home Depot and most were what I'd consider problem plants. It's really worth it to ask here before buying!
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[Last edited by sallyg - Mar 6, 2018 7:05 PM (+)]
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Name: Liz Shaw
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LizDTM
Mar 6, 2018 7:05 PM CST
Philodendron and sansaeveria (I probably spelled that wrong) do great in an office with low light conditions and negligent watering. I missed almost 2 weeks of work due to flu - no light, no water. When I got back, they were just fine.
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jmorth
Mar 6, 2018 7:19 PM CST
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plantobsessed
Mar 8, 2018 2:26 PM CST
Also a zz plant and a jade plant.
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gasrocks
Mar 8, 2018 9:32 PM CST
I believe Jade needs more light than a typical office.
Name: tarev
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tarev
Mar 9, 2018 10:49 AM CST
Dracaenas, Aspidistra, Clivia, Cholorophytum comosum, Peace Lilies, ZZ plant, Sansevieria, some tillandsias, some bromeliads would be my favorites for office.

(Zone 5a)
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lemonFresh
Mar 9, 2018 1:36 PM CST
Thank you all for your recommendations, it is really helping me brainstorm!

I keep a lot of ficus and cactus at home, but I worry how they would cope with the dry air and low light, respectively.

It would be perfect if the Bromeliads would work, I have some that just germinated (so maybe I could bring one over in a few months Crossing Fingers! ).
I would love to get a ponytail palm, but I have heard their light requirement is very high, and I'm scared of killing it off. (but I still want one)

I have secured a Sansivera and a Dracanea.
I will definitely start watching for cast iron plants, Aglaonemas, or maybe a Philodendron at the plant store.

Will, in response to your question, I would like to find plants that would do well in a typical office environment: dry, 70-80 degrees F, and synthetic overhead lighting 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
There is a chance I will have a window, but I would like to play it safe!

Thanks again for all of your swift and informative responses!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Mar 9, 2018 2:16 PM CST
Hello lemonfresh with most indoor growing parts, positioning the plants to an east, west or south facing window works better. You even go to adjust as season's change like in summer light duration is longer and more intense, so you may have to shade them a bit, as light passes more intense through the glass.

But if you are solely going to rely on very limited artificial lighting for 8 hours and 5 days a week, it will also eventually take its toll on the indoor plants. They do need to photosynthesize too, hence the proper levels of lighting.

If that will be the case, I can only recommend Aspidistra, Clivia, Golden Pothos.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 9, 2018 3:03 PM CST
There are a number of plants that will thrive under overhead fluorescent lights. They include Pothos, Philodendrons, Aglaonemas, ZZ Plants, Dracaena Lisas and Janet Craigs, Corn Plants, Aspidistras, Peace Lilies, Sansevierias (for a year or two ), and Parlor Palms. With proper watering and care, these plants will last for many years under fluorescent light.

Guzmania Bromeliads already in bloom will hold their flowers for about 3-4 months under artificial light. Ponytails do well in bright indirect sun, but not so well with artificial light alone.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
(Zone 5a)
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lemonFresh
Mar 10, 2018 12:39 AM CST
Tarev, thank you for the lighting information! I don't have control over whether or not I will have a window, but if I do I will definitely use it as an excuse to hoard more of my plants at the office. I have yet to see an Aspidistra at any of my local garden stores, but it sounds like the legends are true about how hardy it is!

Will, thank you for the extensive list. It sounds like Sansiverias do not hold up well long term? I will watch mine carefully and take it home for recovery if I see any signs of decline. As for the Bromeliads, I have a couple years before I have to worry about mine blooming!
Name: Sue Taylor
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kniphofia
Mar 10, 2018 12:51 AM CST
Sansevieria are as tough as nails unless overwatered. I used to regularly swap my plants between home and office so that's a suggestion if you're able to rotate them. Aspidistras are called "cast iron plants" for a reason and were famously subjected to Victorian neglect.
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Mar 10, 2018 8:15 AM CST
I have access to a lot of plant species but don't often see Aspidistras, especially in smaller sizes. When available, they tend to be expensive.

Sansevierias are very hardy in the moderately good light. In low light, they do just fine, thriving on neglectful watering. However, in low light after a few years, they suddenly start to fall apart and it is hard to get them to recover.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care
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Hamwild
Mar 10, 2018 4:50 PM CST
I believe you can find cast iron plants outside in the garden center (in the outdoor shade plants). I see them at Lowes usually. They're rather large though so that may not be an option.
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pod
Mar 10, 2018 11:01 PM CST
Aspidistra is probably more commonly found in the south where it is most often used outdoors.

I have a thriving variegated Dieffenbachia at work. It stays at work as I have pets and didn't want to bring it home in case they would be inclined to graze on it.

I leave a bank of fluorescent lights on all the time and it has not suffered. I do notice the moisture requirements change with heat or a/c though.
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purpleinopp
Mar 11, 2018 6:24 AM CST
If/when sold where not hardy, it would not be with the landscape plants.
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