Seven Best Plants for Positive Healthier Offices
Difficult to hold concentration throughout the work day?
In an office space it can sometimes be difficult to hold our concentration, to hold our focus throughout the entire day. We’re sedentary for most of the day, and oxygen levels will wain as the day progresses, leaving us tired and lethargic. Whilst we have our individual space around our desk we share the greater office space with our colleagues. The most importantly element in the office is the air we breathe and this we share with our fellow colleagues. What is air made up of? The air we breathe is made up of Nitrogen 78% - Oxygen 21% - Carbon Dioxide 0.03% and Argon 0.9%. In an office setting it is the Co2 – 02 relationship that is most important. As we breathe, levels of Co2 increase and 02 decreases. Carbon dioxide is a toxic gas and as levels increase, even slightly it will affect our concentration, our focus and our ability to think clearly.
How plants can help
An accepted fact is that in nature oxygen is produced by plants as they grow, through photosynthesis. This process is so important to us humans that without plants we would use up all the available oxygen with no means of replenishment. It follows that plants in an office setting also contribute to this process. Therefore, an office or home with plants has greater levels of Oxygen, reduced levels of Carbon Dioxide and is a healthier, happier environment.
It’s about the levels of concentration.
For example, in an office space where people congregate together continued respiration can increase the CO2 levels to above 1000ppm. This contrasts with the great outdoor where levels are usually only 400ppm. Indoor plants in an office space have the opportunity to use this extra Co2 and convert it to O2 whilst growing and becoming more even more attractive. Creating a positive healthier office environment.
Seven Star Plants for a Positive Healthier Office
1. Epipremnum aureum – devil’s Ivy
Not only does the Devil’s ivy increase O2 levels, it is also a plant that is super easy to grow. It originates in a tropical habitat but can adapt to an office environment with ease. The picture below is take in one of our client’s offices. Here we have grown the plant in wall pockets to significant effect on an otherwise vacant wall in a busy office floor – An employee working on this floor was quoted as saying that “since the plants were installed in the office, I definitely have more concentration in the afternoons” Well done you little devil Epipremnum arureum
2. Ficus lyrata – Fiddle Leaf Fig
This plant has impact! Ficus lyrate has huge and unique fiddle-shaped shiny leaves that feel almost like paper. It is commonly known as the Fiddle Leaf Fig. It likes bright but indirect light. Here in Ireland we don’t always get direct sunlight. Therefore, we’re safe to put it in a south facing window or patio door. However, during the occasional scorching balmy day during the summer! Move the plant back from the patio door or its leaves will get burned from the sun. The photo below was taken in a north facing window on a first-floor office in January 2017. It loves this position and has grown 1ft + in the last 10 months.
3. Howea forsteriana - Kentia Palm
This palm has become a world superstar. It was named after an Admiral of the British Navy Lord Howea. A native of the south Pacific It is considered by many to be the best indoor plant in the world. It is a handsome looking palm with dark green feather shaped leaves. It was loved by queen Victoria, and the fashionable houses of the Victorian period, it is still loved today and over the last 140 years as plant trends come and go, it still adorns fashionable homes and cool offices space. It can tolerate little maintenance and much neglect, it will adapt to low light better than almost any other palm. It can also adapt to low temperatures, indoors. The photo below is of a newly planted Kentia Palm placed in corner of an office with only one window and little natural light. Nonetheless, today it had adapted to the space and it is growing quite beautifully.
4. Beaucarnea recurvata – Ponytail Palm
This understated Palm is a native of Mexico. It is an evergreen perennial and grows from the caudex (bulbous base of its stem) with a great topknot of slender, arching leaves. It was discovered in Mexico by a Frenchman in 1870 becoming popular in Europe and worldwide as an ornamental plant. Easy to grow and drought tolerant. Its caudex stores water, so occasional lack of water will do no harm. Slow growing and can tolerate dry air often very common in office spaces.
5. Pachira aquatica – Malabar Palm
This palm variety is a native of Central and South America and grows in the region of the tropics where the seasons are wet and dry. Consequently, when grown indoors it can tolerate irregular watering and be allowed to dry out. It has five stems and five leaves, which represent the five earthly elements and can be used as one of the feng- shui plants! Here in Ireland it is a very easy plant to look after, as it will adapt to the light conditions in your office. Even if you don’t have any natural light the Pachira will grow under the light available in your office.
6. Sanseveria AKA - Snake Skin Plant – Mother-in-laws tongue
Sansevieria is a native to tropical West Africa from Nigeria east to the Congo. As an indoor plant here in Ireland we can call it “Indestructible” It is extremely water tolerant, loves the dry heat of our centrally heated offices and homes. It also loves heavy fluorescent light of our brightly light offices and will grow and flourish. Its leaf is leathery and cool to the touch, possibly these characteristics have influenced its alter ego as It’s affectionately known as the mother-in-law's tongue! Scientifically a lot of research has been done on the benefits of the Sanseveria. It has a large stoma on its leaf (sill invisible to eye) the stoma are lungs of the plant. These stomas open at night time when the air is cooler, meaning the plant loses less valuable water as it breaths. During this process oxygen is given off, as result this plant is a great bedroom plant or a plant to increase the office oxygen levels overnight, promoting high concentration and productive work early next morning.
7. Spathiphyllum – Peace lily
Peace lilies are a fantastic addition to any office. It is a beautiful plant with large lush foliage and many broad white flowers sticking up above its leaves that look like white flags. A white flag is understood as a signal of ceasefire or peace. Now I hope that an office issue never builds into a situation where a ceasefire must be called. However, if the tension does build, have a look at the peace lily for calmness as you count slowly to ten. I bet the situation will look a little more manageable after this.
Easy to look after, it can be place in a shadier part of the office, with less light. Of all plants the peace lily will tell you when it requires water, as its leaves begin to droop down. Give it a little water and within ten minutes it will have a miraculous recovery, yes really! The leaves will perk up and look a lot happier. At this stage your working relationship with your colleague will also be a lot rosier. The Peace Lily!