Should you turn your office space into an arboretum? It might be a very good idea. According to an article by Dr. Leonard Perry at the University of Vermont, there’s plenty of evidence supporting the use of plants in the office. Benefits include stress relief, better air quality, and a more well-adjusted workforce. Here are a few highlights form the studies cited by Dr. Perry:
- Visual exposure to plants reduces blood pressure in a matter of minutes
- A shield of plants around a workspace can reduce noise by about 5 decibels
- Absenteeism goes down when more plants are introduced
- Plants release moisture into the air, creating the right humidity in the workplace for human comfort
- Attractive plants cost a lot less than pricey artwork, and people enjoy them more
- Contrary to what you might assume, introducing plants and soil is associated with lower mold and bacteria counts
Plants That Clean the Air
Apparently, many plants can remove airborne toxins such as VOCs, potentially relieving symptoms such as sore throat, headache, and fatigue. This reduction of toxins in the air is measurable, and NASA has created a list of plants that seem to be particularly effective. You can see a slideshow on that topic by Mother Nature Network here. A few you of the plants you might recognize include:
- Golden Pothos (this one is incredibly hardy and does very well indoors even with little or no natural light)
- Spider plant (excellent for hanging near exterior windows)
- Elephant ear philodendron (this one’s pretty big and good for shared spaces)
- Snake plant (thrives in humid areas like the restroom and can live with little light)
- Cornstalk dracaena (a resilient shrub that can be used as a space divider)
How to Care for Office Plants
Keeping plants alive in the office can be a bit of a challenge at first. Make it part of the facility management or janitorial routine and ensure workers know how to handle the plants in their space.
- Overwatering is worse than underwatering. If an employee is in charge of watering plants, ensure others know not to do additional watering. Coarse soil dries out faster than dense soil and requires more frequent watering.
- Supply a watering can to avoid drips and spills on the way from the break room or bathroom to the plants.
- Add fertilizer to plant pots on a regular basis to keep plants healthy.
- Have a plan in place to transplant office plants to larger pots as they grow. Some plants can be cloned or divided to create new plants in smaller pots.
Going green in the office is pretty simple once you make it a habit. What steps can you take to create a more plant-friendly office?