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May 29, 2014

Low Light Cubicle Gardens

Michael Goetzman
*Work in Progress: Currently selecting plants.

Cubicle friendly low light indoor garden project introduction:

I’m a Cubicle Prisoner. Cubicles in traditional organizations usually consist of bland colors, coffee stained furniture, and cheap materials forming the walls which lead to quite boring unproductive days! Since I’ve been assigned a cubicle in a sea of boring cubicles I decided some foliage could help bring me a little peace to sometimes hectic days! Since I work in Information Technology, this quest poses some interesting challenges. Like most IT professionals, I live in a low natural light environment and next to A/C ventilation systems which could hinder most plant species.

On a side note regarding the nearby the ventilation, part of my interest in this garden project comes from Kamal Meattle’s 2009 TED Talk of using plants enhance its air-purifying properties. In his talk, he recommends homes use three plants:

  • The Areca Palm (or Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) does great air cleansing work during the day.  He recommends about 4 shoulder height plants per person.
  • The Mother-in-law’s Tongue (or Sansevieria trifasciata) which helps to convert CO2 to O2 overnight.  He recommends about 6 to 8 of these waist high plants per person.
  • The Money Plant (or Epipremnum aureum) which does the job of filtering out and removing Formaldehyde and other VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds)

I also recommend looking at which follows NASA’s research on plants helping sustain humans in space.

Although air-purifying is exciting and an amazing experiment; My goals of this experiment are simply to test my green thumb, increase morale in a traditional cubicle environment, and inspire others at the work-space with unique décor ideas.

Plant Candidate Selection & Research Process:

  • Maidenhair Ferns –“Adiantum raddianum”Adiantum_raddianum

Light: Do not expose to any direct sunlight, enjoys shade.
Water: Water freely in summer and keep moist in winter, keep humidity high by spraying with water frequently.
Temperature: These are best kept above 70ºF. Do not expose to drafts.
Soil: Rich, loose, organic compost.
Fertilizer: Feed biweekly with weak liquid fertilizer during growth season.

  •  Mint


  • Swedish Ivy
  • Begonias
  • Succulents
  • Terrariums
  • Chinese evergreens
  • Cast Iron Plant

Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior) is almost indestructable, tolerating low levels of light, humidity, and water. The leaves are strappy and dark green, but you can find interesting varieties with variegated foliage. Cast-iron plant grows 2 feet tall and wide in low to medium light.

  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dracaena Marginata
  • ‘Limelight’ Dracaena
  • Peace Lily
  • Snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata)

Containers & Décor Placement:

The Experiment:



17-8-22 succulent plant spray?