Deb Babcock's gardening column appears Thursdays in Steamboat Today.
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The concept of feng shui has become increasingly popular in the United States in recent years, but it's actually a very old Chinese concept of being in harmony with your environment. It's the art of placing things in your room so you maximize the positive energy or feelings you desire when being in that room.
When it comes to your office - or cubicle or desk, as the case may be - feng shui means placing your furniture, plants, colors, etc., so you gain a positive energy flow. Directionally, it means a desk facing south is preferable if your goal is fame, fortune, sincerity and a good reputation and success. For knowledge and scholarly success, a northeastern orientation is best. This, of course, is not a research-based science.
Indoor plants in your office environment can add to this positive energy flow at work in a number of ways. They add a touch of elegance and elan to your office by brightening a boring space and making the environment more welcoming to visitors as well as to yourself.
In fact, research conducted by NASA has found indoor plants are beneficial for more than their aesthetic charm. They also filter the air. Fumes from carpet, copier fluids and cleaning supplies can cause allergic reactions as well as general lethargy. The good news from the NASA study is that potted plants in the office can remove toxic gases from the air very effectively.
Which potted plants work well in offices? For low-light areas, consider such plants as philodendron burgundy, cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior), Ti plant (Cordyline terminalis), Rex begonia (Begonia x rex-cultorum) or dumbcane (Dieffenbachia maculata).
If your office has bright light, consider the Sago palm (Cycas revoluta), Dracaena marginata 'tricolor', rubber plant (Ficus elastica 'Decora') or fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata). For great ideas about which plants will work well in your cubicle, check with the staff at the florist shop.
You also might consider flowering plants or even fresh flower displays for a touch of color. Two vases stocked with a few stems can be used as bookends, or a pencil holder filled with flowers will make a colorful paperweight.
Flowering plants that work well in an office environment include African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha), peace lily (Spathiphyllum 'Mauna Loa'), Cape primrose (Streptocarpus x hybridus) and geraniums of all types (Pelargonium). If flowering plants aren't your bag, consider plants that sport either variegated or colored foliage. This includes Croton (Codiaeum variegatum pictum), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum'), polka-dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), or beefsteak plant (Iresine herbstii).
To maximize the filtering effect of live plants in your office, it is suggested you place one plant for every 100 feet of office space.
Deb Babcock is a Master Gardener through the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Office in Routt County. Questions? Call 879-0825 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.