PLANTS FOR YOUR OFFICE AND WORK SPACESAli Barwani
Why does an office or workspace without plants feel so dull? Your workplace may have the best ergonomically designed furniture, the fastest computers, and yet it still can feel like it is lacking something vital. If it feels sterile, static and just not right, then it may be because nothing changes.
Adding plants to the work environment adds that missing element, this is a great way to give your workspace that vibrant makeover. Plants are living, constantly moving and changing. Some plants like the Prayer Plant (Calathea and Maranta) have highly mobile leaves that change from a horizontal position during daylight, to vertical during dark during the course of one day. Other plants change more slowly as they grow larger, and again if they start to flower.
So, what are the benefits in having greenery in your workplace?
Indoor plants soften a room, they make it feel friendlier and more relaxed. How do they do this?
Physically, potted plants absorb and dissipate sound. Stems, leaves, branches and pots of soil are all helpful in reducing indoor noise levels. If your office has solid floors and hard walls, then sound will bounce around, creating echoes. Adding plants will reduce this noise.
If you want to add calm and quiet to your business think big. Large plants and large pots will be most effective in deflecting and absorbing sound. The fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) is an excellent choice for this purpose. Experiment with their placing and positioning to achieve the best results.
Offices can feel like unhealthy places to work in, and the air quality in buildings is a major concern among employees and clients. Houseplants are widely hailed as magical air purifiers by wellness bloggers and lifestyle gurus. But is there any proof?
Although there is debate around how effective indoor plants are at cleaning air on a large scale, there is experimental evidence from the laboratory proving that certain plants do have the ability to purify the air by removing volatile organic compounds.
The most widely cited experiments were carried out by NASA in 1989. The NASA Clear Air Study found that the snake plant (Sanseviera) was good at removing benzene and formaldehyde from the environment, and thanks to its unusual metabolism it also produces oxygen at night. English Ivy, the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum), and Devil’s Ivy (the Pothos plant or Epipremnum) also all scored highly in these experiments.
Indoor plants can help us cope with stress and improve wellbeing. Studies have shown that having plants in our homes and offices helps us de-stress. It is no coincidence that actors relax in the Green Room prior to giving a performance. Seeing greenery and nature around us helps us relax.
Psychologists have found that plants can promote increased productivity amongst workers by enriching the workplace, relaxing employees, and shifting our brains into a relaxed mode that helps us concentrate. And a US study found that around 10% of sick days could be explained as being due to a lack of exposure to nature and natural day light. Creating the conditions to nurture plants can also nurture us.
So, if indoor plants can help air cleaning, stress bust, reduce sickness and boost productivity why not add some greenery to your workplace? But which ones to choose?
For office and workspaces ignore smaller growing plants, and anything in little pots – watering becomes a big issue if there are lots of little pots dotted around the place. Bigger plants in bigger pots may cost a bit more, but they are much easier to care for and are far more effective in the workplace.
Remember a work area will often offer more space than domestic rooms for large specimens- remember that hanging plants can be useful where floorspace is limited. Finally, if you now need to divide up office space to keep your employees separated then plants can be used to provide a fresh, living screen.
Plants for the workplace need to be chosen carefully. Nothing looks worse than unhealthy plants struggling to survive. To be successful you need to pick plants that are suited to the specific conditions of each room and corridor. We’ve created a list of our top 8 plants for your workplace. These plants don’t need specialist knowledge, they’re simple to care for and thrive indoors:
1) Sanseviera – For full sun or partial shade. Good at absorbing toxins. Architectural sword-like leaves. Does not need a lot of water.
2) Fiddle-leaf fig – likes bright filtered light. Great focal point in office, large specimen plant. Great at absorbing sound in noisy environments.
3) Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) – fast growing and easy to maintain. Good at filtering out harmful chemicals from the environment. Produces numerous daughter plants on long hanging stems. Looks great in hanging baskets.
4) Boston fern (Nephrolepsis) – loves humid atmosphere and indirect light. Widely recognised as excellent air purifier.
5) Devil’s Ivy – great as a climber or in hanging baskets. Easy to care for and fast growing. Flourishes in lower light conditions.
6) Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) – keep moist but don’t overwater. Attractive white flowers are freely produced. Good for indirect light. Recognised as a good air purifier.
7) Beaucarnea recurvata (ponytail palm) – requires very little water, easy to care for. Likes bright light.
8) Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) – prefers indirect light, partial shade to shade. Do not overwater. Brings a tropical look to your office.
If you need further inspiration and advice about selecting indoor plants for your office or workspace then come and visit us at Capital Gardens, the specialists for indoor plants.
Words by Ali Barwani