Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.


Learn more about HD Media

Large sansevieriya in a white pot

Snake plants are low maintenance and do well in low lighting.

No windows? No problem! Not every plant needs a corner window and hours of natural sunlight to grow. There is a long list of plants that will survive and thrive in low, natural light office environments.

House plants have the advantage of being moved from room to room the perfect spot is found. Office plants are usually put on the bookshelf and watered (hopefully) weekly with little thought any other time. Yet, a living, growing, green plant makes us happy and we all need a little happy.

If you have filtered or borrowed light, try dieffenbachia. The leaves have different shades of light and dark green. It will grow tall if supported by a rod or trellis. Mine is bushy and grows in crazy patterns because it must fend for itself with a short, two-foot-tall stake. I do occasionally use ties but must admit I like it kind of bushy. When encouraged and given attention, I have seen them grow 5 feet or higher.

Dracaena plants, such as the dragon tree or corn plant, need very little water, maybe allowing you to stretch their water schedule to every two weeks. This is a good choice if you are rarely in the office these days.

The dragon tree has long spike leaves that grow upward and are tinged in red. It is pretty and a good choice for adding color to your office garden. Remember, most blooming flowers need sunlight to produce the flowers; low light plants will give color through variations of green and red in their leaves.

The corn plant earned its name from the resemblance to a stalk of corn. Both of these plants grow leaves from a single stem and rarely need to be supported to stand straight.

Do you have space for a small tree? Lucky you. I have an officemate who has a weeping fig tree she started from a seed — it is now 6 feet tall! During a recent move, it got a shock of outdoor air and dropped a few leaves, but has begun to adjust to its new home under a beautiful skylight. Weeping figs like a weekly watering and will drop leaves to conserve water when neglected. No worries, give them a drink and the plant should quickly rebound.

How about a Japanese sago palm tree to bring the tropics into your space. This plant will reach about two feet tall, perfect for a table or small filing cabinet. This palm tree is a lush plant that will add the vacation feeling to your office year-round.

Cascading plants will give you a Boho vibe and the heart-shaped philodendron is a good choice. Sometimes called sweetheart, the heart-shaped leaves will trail across and down from the planter. I have seen it grow across bookshelves and ledges, then over the edge and down the sides. Weekly watering and fertilizing once or twice a year will produce a healthy vine. Don’t be afraid to trim it back when needed.

Devil’s ivy or golden pothos is an excellent choice for the beginner indoor gardener. This tropical plant earned its name by growing anywhere and being hard to kill. The shallow roots only need occasional water to support the plant. The golden color runs through the leaves and provides a pleasant contrast to the green stems.

Other honorable mentions are spider plants (good for sharing) and the ZZ plant. My favorite low-light plant is the snake plant. I like it for the architectural feel and low maintenance. This plant will grow with very little light. The dark green leaves are spear-like, growing straight up and standing tall. Mine is about two years old and 18 inches tall. Given time, they will gain height; exposing them to light will encourage growth.

I know many of us have been out of the office for days, weeks, maybe even months this year. It has been hard on office plants. Although I brought several home to the little house on a big hill, I inherited a few from others who knew I would find a way to keep them healthy. I am also being optimistic and hoping that you have stopped by to check the mail, pick up a folder, or drop off files and while you were there you watered your plants or that you made a plan with an office mate to keep your indoor greenery green.

Jane Powell is a longtime West Virginia Extension Service Master Gardener through the Kanawha County chapter. She is the communications director for a community foundation and a volunteer with several nonprofits in the community. Find her blog, “Gardening in Pearls,” at gardeninginpearls.com. You can contact her at janeellenpowell@aol.com.