Five Fabulous Indoor Plants to Ease the Return to the Office
But who’s going to look after them?
Office managers around the country are grappling with the challenge of suddenly having full – or at least fuller – offices again. How to make that transition less stressful for those workers who, over the last two years, got used to the comforts of home, including, perhaps, houseplants?
Well, therein lies the answer. Green is a soothing colour. Research shows that our eyes are at the peak of their ability to detect the wavelengths corresponding with colour when they perceive green, which means the shade may calm us down. With less strain needed to perceive green colours, our nervous system can relax. Sounds like introducing some beautiful green indoor plants into the office, which, let’s face it, can be tense at times, would be a smart thing to do.
Wouldn’t artificial plants have the same effect, you might ask. Well, here’s where the detoxifying ability of plants comes into play. Indoor plants neutralise and break down harmful gases and convert carbon dioxide in the air into oxygen. Tests conducted by NASA show that air-purifying plants improve concentration, sharpen our memory and create a healthier indoor environment. You need living, transpiring plants to literally detoxify the atmosphere.
But who’s going to look after them?
Most indoor plants are not in the least demanding, just as long as they’re in a position they like. However, we believe that the team will get very attached to their plants, especially if everyone is given one for their desk. Neglect will not be a problem!
In any case, here are some super low-maintenance suggestions for the office:
Big on personality yet take up a tiny amount of space
One important thing for cactus care – they need to experience a rest season from October to March, during which they regenerate. They are desert plants and you can imagine how cold it gets in the desert over the winter. During this time, keep them dry and cool. Overly heated offices in the winter months may mean the flower buds don’t get that rest period they need to initiate. Areas in the office that aren’t heated would be ideal for cacti in the winter – a little group of cacti will look cute in a cool entrance lobby or a bathroom. You can move them to a warmer spot in the spring and summer.
As the name suggests, a hardy plant that can handle anything
The Cast Iron plant or Aspidistra elatior is a handsome plant with large, upright, glossy leaves. It can tolerate bright light or low light and can handle not being watered. It’s basically bulletproof – perfect for the office! It’s a good size for a desk or reception counter but it can reach 55cm in height so it will grow into something that would look good in a bare corner, on a low console table or make an impact in a room.
One for the creatives – a designer self-contained garden
Glass bottle gardens or terrariums are having a moment and will look so great in the office. If you love the idea of putting your stamp on something then the terrarium is for you. You can buy the empty glass bottle or jar – they come in all shapes and sizes – and fill it with soil, decorative gravel, pebbles, and of course your choice of plants. You can also get beautifully made-up ones too of course. The terrarium ‘tells’ you when its contents need water – when there is no condensation on the inside of the glass, it needs a drink. If, however, there is a lot of condensation, you’ve probably overdone it and should leave the plug out for a couple of hours. A terrarium would provide a real focal point in a meeting room or reception area.
Add a wow factor to the workplace
Tillandsia, known as air plants, don’t need a growing medium (like soil), which throws up all kinds of possibilities for creative display. From shells to driftwood, from trays to hanging glass balls. To keep these very on-trend plants healthy, just mist them with air plant spray once a week, which will deliver moisture and nutrients. They do prefer filtered natural light so if they are near a south, west or even east-facing window they will be happy. Because they are so unusual they are a great talking point so would be wonderful in a common area or meeting room.
A creeping vine plant just over a metre in height, the Cissus rotundifolia will look great in a corner or against a pillar. Its big, round waxy leaves are so cheerful and are a sign that it is suited to office life – it can tolerate less watering because waxy leaves retain moisture. Let it dry out between watering. It thrives in bright to medium light conditions and doesn’t like drafts!
Talk nicely to the financial controller and get petty cash for a couple of simple accessories that will make caring for all the plants in the office a doddle:
–A long-spouted watering can means you can water and feed with a minimum of spillage.
–A sprayer. Indoor plants love taking in moisture through their leaves – it reminds them of their native tropical habitats. Misting also removes dust and dirt from their leaves making them better able to take in light and make chlorophyll.
–Westland indoor plant food. In the growing season from April through to October, mix 5ml in one litre of room-temperature water for both foliage and flowering houseplants.
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