Fluorescent lights may not do a lot for your own mood, but for houseplants, they’re the next best thing to sunlight. Many indoor plants work especially well in offices, kitchens and other spaces reliant on fluorescent lighting. Position plants as close to the lights as possible; the tops of cabinets, bookshelves and file cabinets work well, as do hanging pot arrangements. Use organic or chemical liquid fertilizers to keep plants at their healthiest.
Bromeliads do especially well with florescent lighting. Bromeliads offer striking flowers as well as foliage. Sadly, bromeliads bloom just once—but the blooms are long-lasting. Aechmea fasciata, or urn plant, has striped green and silver leaves with pink flower spikes that bloom for half a year. Guzmania lingulata boasts green and purple striped leaves and orange and white blossoms which last several months. Remove offshoots from bromeliads to create new flowering plants if you wish. Keep the plants in warm rooms as close to the fluorescent lights as possible. They prefer humid air and a soilless potting mix. Allow the soil to dry out between watering, but mist the leaves often. Feed them a regular liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength once a month.
The Cape primrose, also frequently called by its botanical name, Streptocarpus, offers lush foliage with the bonus of large white, pink or violet flowers. Several hybrids exist, some with trailing foliage that makes them suitable for hanging. They will tolerate average to cool temperatures and average humidity. Garden writer Barbara Damrosch suggests planting them in shallow clay pots (these pots are usually wider than they are deep) using the special potting soil sold for African violets. Water often enough to keep the soil consistently moist, but if the plant stops blooming, allow the soil to dry out between waterings for a month or two. Use a liquid fertilizer high in phosphorous, if possible (high-nitrogen feedings will give you vigorous leaves but little bloom), and feed twice a month.
The vining Philodendron species encompasses a number of indoor plants, from hanging varieties like P. scandens, often called the “heart leaf” philodendron, to P. bipennifolium, or “fiddle leaf” philodendron, usually grown as a floor plant with a stake for support. In addition to their handsome, wavy foliage, philodendrons are among the houseplants noted for their ability to purify the air. The plants enjoy humid air, making them good candidates for the bathroom. They will, however, tolerate average temperatures and moisture levels. Use regular potting soil, keep the soil moist, and feed them once a month.
One of the most easily grown botanicals, the spider plant is common enough to be considered boring by some. Yet Chlorophytum comosum remains one of the best plants for “sick building” syndrome because of its superior air-cleaning abilities. The long, narrow foliage of the spider plant usually results in “babies,” which can be left as they are or pinched off and potted to make new plants. These plants work well in hanging pots but also look lovely cascading over a kitchen cabinet. Give them average temperature, average humidity and standard potting soil. Water the soil deeply and let it dry out between watering sessions. Feed spider plants twice a month.
Penn State Extension Service recommends several other plants especially suited to offices and other places with fluorescent lighting. Their suggestions include snake plant, peace lily, dracaena, prayer plant, Chinese evergreen, cast iron plant, grape ivy, pothos and hoya plants.