Take the 2-minute tour ×
Gardening & Landscaping Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for gardeners and landscapers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Can ANY plant with green foliage survive in a sealed office environment with fluoroscent lighting from 8am to 5:30pm and air conditioning set at 20 C? For the remaining time, there is basically zero light and limited air flow.

We have a very sterile office which has been designed to effectively be a Faraday cage and we'd love to introduce some real, living greenery to make it less bleak.

In case it is not already clear, there are no windows and there is definitely no natural light.

My question is a bit similar to the three following but more inclusive. In our case we're really not fussed at the absence of flowers or fruit, but it must be able to survive on fluoroescent light alone.

  1. Low maintenance plant choices for apartment (indoor) living?
  2. Is there a fruiting plant that can grow in an office environment?
  3. What flowering bulbs grow well in an air conditioned office environment?

If there are any suitable candidates, please rank in order of indoor-toughness.

share|improve this question
    
Are you allowed to bring in some daylight lamps? Or at least incandescent lamps to add more of a spectrum to the fluorescents? –  Steven Apr 12 '12 at 14:34
    
With a couple full-spectrum CFL spotlights, a lot is possible :-) Distance is the key, CFL should be 6" to 2' from plant. –  WienerDog Apr 12 '12 at 16:20
    
We are probably allowed to bring in the lamps but it would be the taxpayer paying for the electricity in this case so a bit of an extravagance. Also, a hassle. If some plants can survive without additional light and with perhaps just a biannual excursion outdoors then we'd rather choose those than hassle about with grow lamps. –  Lisa Apr 13 '12 at 5:06
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

For many indoor tropical plants life in the office is slow death. You may feel that way yourself after a bad day! With minimal light levels and good watering practices most tropicals will live for a while. The ones that require high light will draw on their stored resources in the roots and gradually go downhill. Tropicals that tolerate low light levels for a long time are

If you don't mind some extra work most palms (date palm, canary palm, bella palm) will tolerate low light levels for many months before needing a refresher session in higher light. Ficus have an undeserved reputation for being finicky about light levels. Most new plants are inadequately conditioned for low light and drop many leaves with a change to lower light. An older plant grown in lower light will thin out but look quite acceptable. Particularly if it's height allows the foliage to be closer to the lights.

A faraday cage has no influence on plants that I know of but too much water will. Water thoroughly and let dry out. Constantly wet soil means root rot: the number one killer of tropical plants. If you don't mind a little extra work the self watering pots or making your own with a capillary wick are an excellent way of providing a good water cycle. I use strips from self watering mats rather than the acrylic string indicated in the link.

share|improve this answer
2  
Did you mean to link to this for Pothos? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epipremnum_aureum I have one of these, and they are indeed low-maintenance, and I suspect immortal. –  Steven Apr 12 '12 at 14:37
    
thank you! link corrected. –  kevinsky Apr 12 '12 at 15:57
    
Based on the information in the links, only Philodendrons and Aspidistras could happily survive such low light. Certainly, I know from sad experience that peace lillies (spathiphyllum) will go yellow and wither. –  Lisa Apr 13 '12 at 5:13
    
Marking as answer for the most suggestions with extra advice, but all the proposed answers add something. Thanks. –  Lisa Apr 18 '12 at 7:06
add comment

IMO,You can keep Dracaena sanderiana (we call them Bamboo in Iran, and some people believe they bring their owners luck and some call them lucky Bamboos). They can survive in many indoor conditions, they don't need high light level or sunlight.

share|improve this answer
add comment

You could get multiple plants and rotate which one is in your office every few weeks, bringing one home on a Friday night and then the next one in on a Monday morning.

Honestly I had no idea what kind of stress these changes would put on a plant compared to staying in the office full-time, but I suspect it would work.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks it's a good point if we choose several of the above suggestions. –  Lisa Apr 16 '12 at 5:04
add comment

Resurrection Plant,, a small low-maintenance plant, has the odd characteristic that it can stand long periods of adverse conditions without weakening. I don't know how available they are in your area, but I see them here and there around here. I know someone who keeps theirs in a box in the attic all year, and took it out, watered it, and put it on a windowsill on Christmas week. Do that with an ordinary plant (without it dying), and I'll eat my foot.

share|improve this answer
    
While, it appears that Selaginella lepidophylla is good at surviving in low light, it sounds like it won't come out of its "plant hibernation" state without serious light and some water, making it an unlikely candidate for success in any office because we want to see and enjoy foliage. –  Lisa Apr 13 '12 at 5:15
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.