27 Feb 2013
Research has shown that office plants are good for employees.
Today’s offices are designed for energy efficiency but an air-tight office building can leave the people working in it feeling drowsy.
Office plants filter pollutants and chemicals out of stale office air and release oxygen to refresh the air. Just one potted plant per 10 square metres can make a difference in the quality of your indoor air.
The good thing is that these plants can thrive even in a stuffy office with no open windows. All they ask for is some natural light, water and a little bit of food.
Ambius, a division of Rentokil-Initial, experts in indoor landscaping, share how you should care for office plants.
1. Choose the right plants
Plants need light, and the more natural it is, the better.
If you work in a windowless cubicle, you might have trouble keeping a house plant alive. Some plants do fine under fluorescent lighting, but others are just too fragile.
Not all people are knowledgeable when it comes to choosing the right plant, and it is therefore important to get an expert’s opinion on which plants might be suitable for which office spaces.
Nathalie Leblond, communications manager for Ambius, says the choice of indoor plants should be based on the light levels available and as most offices have relatively low light levels compared to the outdoors, plants that can thrive in low-light conditions usually fare better in office environments.
2. Be committed to watering them
House or office plants can’t live without water. At home, you've got taps all over the place; in the kitchen, the bathroom, the laundry room and maybe even on the patio.
At work, you might have to walk a good way to get to water, so it's more of a nuisance to take care of plants.
It may also interrupt your work routine but if you don't water the plants, they'll die.
And if you overwater them, they'll also die.
Dead plants are not good for a company’s corporate image. Leblond says her company waters on a regular schedule, making sure that the pots they use have sub-irrigation in the form of a water reservoir at the bottom of the pot.
“We ensure that this reservoir stays full, so that the plant can draw water from its root area. This works better than top-watering.”
3. Feed them
Like people, plants need food to thrive.
Any kind of plant in a container needs regular fertilising so choose a time-release fertiliser that comes mixed with soil or that you can sprinkle on top of the soil so it feeds your foliage a little at a time.
You'll only need to add more every couple of months.
4. Allow them to grow
Transplant your office plants as they grow. When you buy a plant in a container, it probably looks the best it can. Unless you move it to a bigger pot, you'll stunt its growth.
A growing plant in a pot that's too small will soon show signs of deterioration.
5. Protect them
Place your plants out of high-traffic areas where they can get knocked over or brushed into too often.
Guard your plant from careless co-workers and don't let your colleagues empty their coffee cups or soda cans into your potted plants. Those pots aren't trash cans.
Plants can live through a lot, but abuse like that will harm them.
Plants also need to be cleaned regularly. A layer of dust on the leaves will block sunlight and therefore reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesise. Photosynthesis is how the plant feeds itself so without it, you‘ll have a stressed plant.
A clean plant that’s photosynthesising at optimal levels will be a healthier plant and healthy plants don’t get diseases and pest infestations as readily as stressed plants.
6. Find them a home
Select a good ‘home’ for each plant. Avoid placing plants on heating or air-conditioning registers or under vents that will blow hot or cold air on them.
According to Leblond, air-conditioning also plays a role as it dries out the air, and some plants, like orchids, can’t survive dry air.
Likewise, keep them off computers or other equipment that radiates heat - not only because that can hurt the plant, but because you risk getting water and wet soil on your expensive office machines.
For more information visit, www.ambius.co.za
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