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Potted plant at work desk  RSS feed

 
Maneesh Godbole
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I work indoors for around 10 hours a day average. Recently I noticed my eyes straining a lot. A quick google recommended taking my eyes away from the monitor every half an hour or so, focusing on distant objects, gazing at greenery etc.

Now I am thinking of having a potted plant at my desk. I am not able to make up my mind on which one. There is no direct sunlight. The temperature ranges from 18-23 degrees C. No idea about humidity. I would prefer a flowering plant.

1) Is it possible to have a flowering plant indoors?
2) How do I water it? Spray it? Soaked cotton?
3) Would it attract an bugs?
4) Do I need fertilizers or stuff?
 
paul wheaton
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Slight tangent:  I once had a teeny tiny fishbowl with a fish and two little plants.  It was sooooo tiny, that it held maybe four cups of water.  I liked that much better than a potted plant.

Moving on:  if you purchase a plant, it probably needs to be repotted right away.  So you will put it in a bigger pot along with (organic) potting soil.  Make sure that the pot has a hole in the bottom and that the pot sits in a tray. 

The potting soil will have enough fertilizer in it for several months. 

Most houseplants are designed for low light.  And most will thrive if you can get them more light.  Which plant you get is a matter of taste. 

Your plant can attract bugs.  Especially if it is a flowering plant!  The best way to not attract bugs that are too nasty is to go a long time between waterings - let the soil get pretty dry before watering again. 

I water about once every two weeks.  And when I do water, I put a little water in, wait a half hour, put a little more in, wait three minutes, put a little more in ....  and keep repeating this until a little water shows in the tray.


 
Leah Sattler
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even if it flowers remember it probably won't flower all the time. christmas cactus flower inside and so do african violets. I can't kill african violets. I never fertilize them and they always bloom. my kinda houseplant. most house plants are grown for their foliage. flowering even for african violets and christmas cactus rely on light hours which can be a pain to simulate indoors if you don't have a "window seat".

I like pauls idea of a fish bowl for this purpose too. bettas thrive in small bowls. it is natural for them to live in low oxygen water and they don't need filters and pumps, and they are pretty and might provide some interest and movement.   

what would be really cool is a small hexagon planted terrarium with a frog in it. several varieties of tree frogs are great and widely available.  not that you asked for more ideas  
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Good suggestions on the fish bowl and African violets! For low light I've usually resorted to philodendron type plants, but they don't bloom.

My African violets have definitely needed a place by the window to bloom. I have a friend, however, who purchased a plant light for her African violets. If you are really wanting the flowers, a plant light could make it more doable. 
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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a peace lily, of not overwatered but kept moist, will flower inside with no sunlight as long as it gets bright office light..and it will also help to clean your air..another plant that works well but doesn't flower without direct light is a pothos..they are both fairly cheapo even at a walmart but do becareful to check it when you buy it for any little fruit fly like gnats..as fungus gnats will kill your plant..if you pick it up and see any little flies fly away..go to another store.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Peace Lilies are more likely to flower indoors in lower light conditions than African violets. Unfortunately, lilies are prone to rot if you get them too wet for too long. They will get brown tips on leaves from being too wet or too dry or in low humidity. OF course, violets are subject to rot as well. Tropical plant care companies keep blooming plants in offices looking so good because they rotate in plants from greenhouses. Peace Lilies & other tropicals get rotated in and out of offices, malls, etc. and it seems like they're blooming all the time.

It's important to remember that plants grown in low light just don't use as much water as they would in brighter light. There is no set schedule for watering, it's better to judge by feel than by a time frame. If you put an African violet on a reservoir, that is a no brainer regarding when to water. You just keep the reservoir topped off and once in a while water it from the top. This is a very successful, highly recommended way to grow African violets. Adding a plant light as Jocelyn suggested, is a great idea if you have room for it.

Of the 2 flowering indoor plants mentioned here, both are more prone to flower if allowed to become a little pot bound. It's a common practice of African violet growers. Roots getting a little crowded in the pot will encourage the plant to bloom, even in low light conditions. Paul has recommended re-potting it right away. However, if it is in flower when you buy it and you repot it, it will likely stop blooming, even for a little while, once you repot it. It may well need repotting, but the worst mistake you can make is potting it up into a large pot with lots of soil that stays wet too long. That will bring on the rot, fungus gnats and the plant may not bloom for months. When repotting either variety, be careful not to bury the crown too deep. This will only add to the rot issues.

If it were me and I REALLY wanted a plant flowering consistently, I would buy at least 2 African violets. One that is in flower, loaded with buds, and one that isn't. The 2nd one may be a smaller plant with a less developed root system, ideally more soil than roots in the pot. The non-bloomer you'll keep at home, in more desirable lighting conditions. The other one you'll have on your desk at work. When it stops flowering (and it will stop at some point), hopefully your plant at home in optimum lighting conditions will be blooming like crazy and you can swap it out with the plant that is no longer in bloom. There are variegated African violets available, so even if your plant isn't flowering, the foliage is more interesting and appealing than plain green leaves. You could try one of each and see which does better in your office.

The best/easiest way to water African violets is thru a wick & reservoir. You can purchase special pots for this purpose or simply put a wick of acrylic yarn in the soil, and feed it thru one of the drain holes in the pot. The wick hangs into the water reservoir and the plant draws the water up into it's root system. This sounds really complicated, but it isn't. I have rigged many a reservoir system with nothing more than a potted plant, a piece of acrylic yarn (cotton and other natural fibers rot faster) and a snug fitting glass for the reservoir. Obviously, it is more attractive to purchase the special pots. They aren't that expensive. 

I've had tropical plants for decades, some of my plants are 20+ years old. I've never had fungus gnats kill a plant. Probably because I tend to let most plants dry out (as much as they can stand) between waterings. For a persistent fungus gnat problem, BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) works well.

I wish this plant was mine! Growing these beauties to this level is truly an art!
photo courtesy of http://www.avsc.ca/avscconvention2009.htm
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Leah Sattler
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I have never seen one with such beautiful leaves before! that is gorgeous!

as gwen mentioned repotting insn't absolutely neccesary. some things like to be crowded. I have actually heard this is true with many houseplants. thats part of why they are popular as such. I have an african violet from a cutting that gwen gave me in a tiny little pot that I still haven't managed to get around to repotting. it seems quite happy and bloomed well for me just as it is. I let all mine dry out well and haven't had a problem with gnats despite aquiring the other three of them i had from gnat infested sources  mine stay in the bathroom which is well lit with natural light and they bloom every year.

 
Gwen Lynn
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When I was in the local African violet society, their annual show & sale was always fun. The plants were so beautiful and motivated me to try my hand at serious growing. After a few years (and moving out of an apt.) I got more into outdoor gardening instead. I'm glad you still have a plant that I started, as I don't have any more. The cats 'beheaded" the last one when they knocked it off a shelf.

That is another bonus about African violets, they are really easy to start from cuttings!
 
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