Office Space Positive

Office Space Positive

I sometimes wish it wasn’t so, but… we spend a lot of time at work. And in the last year and half where we work has changed for a lot of people. Lately there has been a lot of buzz about the “return to the office.” The idea is welcomed by some, feared by others. Some people are planning to never return to the way things were, they will remain working from home. Others are planning a hybrid of at-home and in-office. No matter where the “office” happens to be for you, there are a few things we can do to make it more pleasant and even healthier. Let’s talk plants. 

The benefits to adding some growth and greenery into a working space are real and have been well studied. There are observable increases in air quality, workplace satisfaction, fatigue prevention (ahem… ever heard of Zoom fatigue?), and even productivity. Studies have shown just looking at a green plant can have a positive effect on a person’s mental state. Adding some plants to your workspace, be it a small pot on your desk or a large stylish planter, can add style, increase the humidity, and purify the air. Plants improve both the physical quality of your work environment as well as your mental state. 

There is such variety of indoor tropical plants out there that you finding one that suits your style and can thrive on your desk or conference room, is much easier than you might think. The key to having success is to choose the right plant for your space. Be it the deep shade of a nearly windowless room, or the blazing sunshine of a south facing window, or the most common somewhere in between, there is a plant that will work. But if you are new to the world of growing Tropicals I would suggest you aim for something low maintenance because when your head gets into work you can sometimes forget to water. Here is my list of the top 10 low maintenance, good at purifying the air while looking stunning plants for your work space. 

  1. Sansevieria, or snake plant, is my top choice for someone new to the office plant game. If you want your space to be “Insta ready” look no further, snake plants have beautiful structural appeal with vertical sword like leaves, and are dead easy to grow. Able to thrive in a variety of lighting conditions they are also drought resistant for the forgetful waterer. Available in a variety of sizes (from dwarf to a couple of feet high) as well as different colours and patterns, make sure to look around and find the right one for you. Try to avoid getting the leaves wet when you water, make sure not to overwater and it will thrive. 

  1. ZZ plant (Zamioculus zamifolia) is another great plant for the beginner with striking structural foliage. The succulent stems emerge from the soil with equally succulent leaves that look like “puffy” palm fronds. Ridiculously easy to grow, they can handle a variety of light conditions and are tolerate of infrequent watering, so pretty much they will put up with neglect and keep growing. ‘Raven’ is a black cultivar worth keeping an eye out for if you like something a little bit different (hint it really pops with a white background). 

  1. Pothos are vigorous vine with heart shaped leaves that is very low maintenance and can handle both dark and light conditions. Some are variegated with green and white or yellow, others are a bright shiny green, there is even one (satin pothos) with a velvety silver leaf, and my favourite the neon pothos with golden/chartreuse colour. Don’t be afraid to cut back any vines that get too long, it will make your plant bushier and fuller looking. 

  1. Tillandsia, or air plants as they are commonly called, don’t need much light and require no soil. In nature they grow high up in the canopy of trees. This means they can handle shade and are not too fussy. To water, just let them soak for an hour or two in a bowl every week or so. You can get really creative with them, sick them in a shell or piece of driftwood, a favourite cup, or even just wire one to your desk lamp. For the happiest air plants, take a break from the computer and mist them regularly. 

  1. Spider plants are another perfect super easy plant to grow and I would bet that anyone who has lived through or seen pictures from the 70s has witnessed a spider plant living in a vintage macrame hanger. If you liked that look then the good news is it’s back in a big way, oh so trendy and bohemian. Perhaps a reason for this popularity is they are extremely adaptable to most growing conditions and easy to grow. Best in bright indirect light, water them well but let them dry out between watering (never let them sit in water). They come in both green and variegated. You can sometimes get browning on the leaf tips from neglect but just prune those out and try to pay better attention to it in the future. If your plant is “happy” you will soon see spiderettes that dangle on long stems from the mother plant. They start off as white flowers and then turn into little baby plants you can give to friends or repot. 

  1. Peace Lily, or spathiphyllum, is a classic with it’s pure white “stick and paddle” flowers and lush shiny dark green leaves. It also happens to be one of the best plants for purifying the air (according to NASA who did a study) and is again incredibly easy to grow (are you sensing a trend yet?). They will thrive in little to no light, just make sure to keep the soil moist but never soggy. 

  1. Agaonema, or Chinese evergreen, are a group of plants known for their ease of care and stunning colour combinations on the leaves that can range from dark green, silver, pinks and even reds. Drought resistant and tolerant of different light conditions (but the colour is best with bright light), this is a stylish plant that can fit into a variety of sites. 

  1. Rex begonia have leaves that will stop you in your tracks and make you take a second look. With combinations of jewel-like colours in amethyst and garnet with the steely greys of pewter and silver. But also, textural interests from ruffles and pleats. Check out the swirly leaves of the cultivar ‘Escargot’ which is as quirky as it’s charming. These are great plants for low light but a bit of brightness will keep those colours vibrant. Keep the soil moist but never saturated. Mist them regularly to increase the humidity’ 

  1. Money plant (Pilea peperomioides), money does grow on trees… well almost… on a plant perhaps? This is a fun little house plant that is perfect for a desk or small corner, and another plant that can tolerate a variety of lighting conditions. The leaves are round and joined to the stalk near the middle (almost like a lily pad) so that the leaf looks like a coin, giving rise to the name money plant. Water it regularly but let it dry out a little between watering. This is such a popular plant that it can sometimes be hard to get your hands on one, so if you see one buy it quick before it’s gone. 

  1. Ferns are so well adapted to living in low lights conditions and there are so many different kinds available. Some are dainty and frilly such as the maidenhair fern, others cute and structural like the button ferns, and then others are just so interesting like the staghorn fern which can be mounted on a board and hung on the wall. Most will thrive in low light conditions but require regular consistent moisture. Check out the selection in store and be sure to read the specific care instructions on the label. 

No matter what the new-normal workspace looks like for you (be it at home or a traditional office space), do yourself a favour and green it up. You’ll be healthier both physically and mentally and it may even increase your productivity. Just think of it as self-care for the workplace. 

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