Good office plants

Growing with Phipps: These plants will stand up to the harsh conditions of any office
Saturday, December 18, 2004 By Karen Daubmann and Margie Radebaugh, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Office plants need to be tough. Many offices don't have much natural light, the heating and cooling can be extreme and rarely is there a dedicated plant tender who will water, fertilize and repot each plant based on its specific needs.
Bob Donaldson, Post-Gazette A peace lily will grow well in low light. Click photo for larger image.
But we have some suggestions for the perfect plant to add a personal touch to your office or cubicle. These are also the best plants for those with brown or black thumbs.
Cast iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is a fantastic choice for low light conditions. A classic interior plant that is making a comeback, it has thin stems that broaden into leaves that can be as wide as 5 inches and as tall as 20 inches.
Breeders have developed some interesting new cultivars. 'Asahi' has white tips on the upper third of its leaves, while 'Lennon's Song' has a centered vertical stripe of muted yellow. Aspidistra lurida 'Ginga' has 18-inch-long leaves that are green speckled with creamy white.
Dracaena is a large genus of plants, with lance-shaped leaves that are arranged in a spiral from the stem. The species deremensis and fragrans contain the plants we use most often in interior plantscapes.
Deremensis cultivars have bluish-tinged leaves and include'Janet Craig,' a bushy plant with long, dark green leaves that are about 3 inches wide. 'Warneckii' is similar, but the leaves are slightly narrower and have a white stripe down each side and a milky green stripe in the center.
Dracaena fragrans is generally grown as thick canes with green leaves coming out of clusters near the tops. This is an excellent tall, narrow plant. Its name comes from the fragrant white flowers that appear on mature plants in late summer. D. fragrans often has greenish-yellow or green and white striped leaves. A popular cultivar is 'Massangeana,' which has leaves striped with yellow.
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a classic houseplant that is often grown in hanging baskets. This variegated plant with heart-shaped leaves is a very tough viner whose runners can reach 30 feet long. Keep the soil moist and fertilize weekly from March through August.
The peace lily (Spathiphyllum sp.) is one of the smallest plants on the list and is often tabletop-sized. It has dark green, lance-shaped leaves and long-stemmed white type flowers. This plant will grow well in low light but needs a little more light to bloom. It is happy with a weekly dosage of weak fertilizer during the spring and summer months, as well as added humidity (or misting) on warm days.
Kentia palm (Howeia forsteriana) is graceful, easy to grow and tolerates adverse conditions, including low humidity, temperatures and light. Each leaf resembles a feather, and the leaves can reach 10 feet long on mature plants. Kentia palms are slow growing but tend to be wide spreading, so they will need some space. Water regularly but let the soil dry between waterings. This plant should be hosed off a few times per year to remove dust from the leaves.
Sweetheart plant (Philodendron scandens) is a fast-growing vine with solid green, heart-shaped leaves. Often grown in hanging baskets, these vines can reach 20 feet in length The leaves get up to 4 to 6 inches across. Use a balanced water-soluble fertilizer during the spring and summer months to encourage growth.
Arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum) is a trailing or vining plant with variegated, arrowhead-shaped leaves that can get as large as 5 inches across. This plant prefers temperatures in the mid-60s and moist soil.
Our favorite plant for the office is the ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia). Named foliage plant of the year in 2002 because of its ability to withstand abuse and neglect, the ZZ plant has glossy, dark green leaves, which stay true in low-light situations. Because it stores water in its underground tubers, it can go for months without being watered. The ZZ grows in a clump form; new growth begins as side shoots which grow into larger clumps. Plants can reach 30 inches tall, but it is quite slow growing.
Plants grown in low light generally grow very slowly, so they can be used in the same space for a long time. Because they are slow growers, care must be taken not to overwater or overfertilize.
This is one of a series of periodic columns by staffers of Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Karen Daubmann is Phipps director of horticulture and Margie Radebaugh is director of education.
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Keep the aspidistras flying!
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<< Keep the aspidistras flying! >>
____Reply Separator_____
Mine died in 1984
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On 20 Dec 2004 22:09:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comic (TOM KAN PA) wrote:

Mine bloomed in 1993 where is was getting an hour of sun just before sunset. Aspidistras seem to do best when they are neglected--I've cut watering back to once a month for the winter months.
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How did you know?
The produce a single brown flower at ground level.
Was it the foul odor that gave it away?
Most Aspidistra are forest plants in the wild and normally grow in heavy shade part of the year..
(TOM KAN PA) wrote:

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Keep the aspidistras flying!
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