A few suggestions for appropriate plants for the office (even if they don't work in mine!) include:
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum): They are usually variegated (striped) and they do well in most any light conditions.
Mother-in-law's tongue (Sansevieria): I've called this "Old Doctor's Office Plant," as that's where you always see it. This tall, spiky plant will live forever and needs little light, little water and likes to be pot-bound (crowded roots).
Arrowhead plant (Syngonium podophyllum): This one can live in moderate to low light, and it can be grown in a container of water, so you don't need to worry about if you've over-watered!
Cast-iron plant (Aspidistra elatior): A perfect plant for a cool office (referring to temperature, not hipness), this one will tolerate very low light. It's shiny, dark green leaves grow 24 inches long and it tolerates dust, wet soil and neglect as well.
Fig trees (Ficus): These are always in offices, but they never look healthy. It's because they should be placed 2 to 4 feet from a window to give them adequate lighting. They are sensitive to drafty areas and sudden temperature changes, and the root ball must always be moist.
If a ficus is dropping yellow leaves, it means it's too dry. If it drops green leaves, it is too wet or it doesn't have enough light to support the amount of leaves that it has.
Dracaena (Dracaena marginata): According to www.plant-care.com, members of the Dracaena family (Liliaceae) provide some of the most durable plants used indoors in offices building, hotels and malls. Dracaena marginata is probably the most versatile of all the Dracaenas. Some confuse this houseplant with a palm. Although it may look palmlike as a larger specimen, it is in the same family as the popular yucca plant.
By the way, the Texas State University study also found that in a "Life Satisfaction Inventory" gardeners received higher mean scores, indicating more positive feelings than nongardeners. I didn't need a scientific survey to know that -- my gardening friends are a happy bunch, to say the least.
A reader writes: "I would be grateful if you could name some plants disliked by cats. I hear there is a coleus that will help keep them out of the flowerbeds."
The plant she's referring to is Coleus canina. The leaves are succulentlike, so it doesn't need much water and will take full sun. Dogs and bunnies don't like it either, and it's not smelly to humans unless it's touched. Cats don't like geraniums, marigolds, petunias or lavender, either. My husband is quite cat-allergic (alas!), so I don't have the problem, but I know lots of gardeners who do.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.