Why Your Office Needs Plants and Which Ones You Should Get

April 30, 2018 | by Melissa Landon

Whether you’re looking to redecorate your office or organize your personal workspace, adding plants can go a long way towards bringing life to a sterile office environment.

Research shows working among plants can increase productivity by as much as 15 percent. It’s also associated other benefits related to employee health and satisfaction. In this post, we’ll examine the surprisingly numerous benefits of office plants then decide which ones to add to your office.

Bringing Plants Indoors: The Many Benefits

You might be surprised to learn that eating healthy snacks, taking breaks, and listening to relaxing music aren’t the only simple ways to be healthier at work. Plants aren’t just decorations. In his book Biophilia, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson posits that humans have a built-in need for nature and other life forms. Other research also indicates that including plants in your office setup can be very beneficial for your employees and work environment. Here are just a few of the many benefits associated with office plants:

  1. Stress reduction: You don’t necessarily have to visit a therapist or add jogging to your routine (though those things can be helpful, too!) to reduce stress. You may just need an office plant. A study conducted by Washington State University’s Virginia Lohr indicated that plants can both improve productivity and reduce self-reported stress levels. Her research also found that perceptions of physical discomfort were lower in the presence of office plants.
  2. Cleaner air: Plants create oxygen outdoors, and those benefits apply within the confines  Have you ever walked into an office that smelled stuffy, like the inside of a can of Lysol? Well, you can’t leave the windows open all the time to air out the space, so the solution might involve getting some office plants. Some species of plants can even remove toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and hexane from the air, research suggests.
  3. Reduced noise level: It turns out adding those ugly egg crate foam strips to your walls isn’t the only way to contain noise in the office. Reduce noise levels by up to 5 decibels by placing a nice hedge of plants between sections of the office. Numerous studies have indicated that plants can actually absorb sound.
  4. Increased creativity: A research team from Texas A&M conducted an eight-month study that indicated a link between the presence of office plants and increased creativity. The participants in the study who worked in the environment with plants generated more creative ideas and innovative solutions than those who worked in plantless-environments.
  5. Increased focus: Sometimes you have plenty of time to work, but just can’t focus. Maybe you need another cup of coffee, or as some researchers would argue, access to some greenery. Attention restoration theory posits that viewing nature relaxes the brain. A related study indicated that when people looked at even just a picture of nature, they focused more effectively.
  6. Decreased symptoms of illness: A study conducted in Norway indicated that the presence of office plants can significantly reduce symptoms of discomfort that often lead to illness. Specifically, the presence of office plants reduced instances of sore throat, stuffy nose, headaches, coughs, and skin problems. The researchers believed the plants engendered these positive results because of their ability to clean the air and because of their aesthetic appeal.
  7. Improved mood: Plants may also make people happier. A 2003 study indicates that plants bring about more positive moods, reduce the perception of pain, reduce mental fatigue, and improve cognitive function.

Ideal Plants for the Office

According to an old Chinese proverb, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Because of all the many benefits detailed above, the same could be said about the best times to add plants to your office. But which plants should you get? We’re glad you asked. We curated this top-10 list based on the type of plants’ upkeep, health benefits, and ability to survive indoors.

  1. Rubber Tree Plant: This plant has nice, shiny leaves and doesn’t require much care. Just put it near a window—but not in direct sunlight. You will need to water it enough to keep the soil moist in the spring, but during other seasons, it probably only needs to be watered once or twice per month.
  2. English Ivy Plant: If you’re particularly interested in plants’ air-filtering abilities, add an English Ivy Plant to your office. NASA scientists have designated this plant as the best for filtering chemicals out of the air, even formaldehyde, which can show up in paint, floor finishes, cosmetics, and wallpaper. These plants don’t thrive in drafty environments and need warmth and sunlight to stay alive.
  3. Peace Lily: If your office doesn’t have much sunlight, considering getting some Peace Lilies, which actually grow better in the shade. Its soil just needs to stay moist, so you don’t need to water it often.
  4. Spider Plant: Not every office has the desk space for a lot of potted plants. The Spider plant looks great in a hanging basket or on a high shelf. This plant is also known for improving air quality by reducing the presence of dust, which can help employees prone to allergies.
  5. Parlor Palm: These plants are great if you’re looking for office foliage that’s not going to break the bank. Parlor Palms don’t cost much, but they’re not for every office. They require bright sunlight to thrive and prefer environments 68 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
  6. Snake Plant: Some employees, such as video editors, have to work in dark or low-light environments. A plant could help cheer up the environment, but most plants don’t do well without sunlight. The Snake Plant is an exception. It not only grows just fine in low-light environments but also doesn’t require watering more than once per month. Snake Plants are also known for absorbing formaldehyde, toluene (found in shoe polish), and other chemicals.
  7. Lemon Balm: If you’re looking for a plant that can boost morale, look no further than Lemon Balm, according to an Ohio State University study. These plants can grow in either sunny or shady locations, so it may be a good choice for office environments with varying light conditions.
  8. Aloe Plant: What if you’re always traveling and don’t have time to take care of a plant? Aloe plants live in the desert, so as long as you leave them in the sun, you don’t have to water them much at all. If you notice any brown spots on your Aloe plant, that means it’s taking in harmful chemicals from the air!
  9. Cast Iron Plant: This plant thrives in cool conditions, so don’t worry if you have a chilly office! It’s a hardy plant that doesn’t require much watering, except during the spring. If you keep it in a darker area, it doesn’t need to be watered as often.
  10. Philodendron: These plants grow in pots or hanging baskets and need to be watered a few times per week. Research from University of Technology, Sydney, shows that philodendrons might be good for your health. As a bonus, they’re very low maintenance and difficult to kill.

Buying Office Plants

While you can purchase plants for your desk and office anywhere from a local grocery store to a big box retailer, you’re better off paying a little better to purchase from a nursery, farmers market, or trusted garden store. Plants that are raised in poor conditions are less likely to thrive over time. Most retailers keep plants in their basements for weeks at a time before they reach shelves!

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