Whether we work from home or in the office, one thing we all want is an attractive desk environment that motivates and inspires us. Some plants are particularly suitable for this. If you opt for frugal species, you can even save yourself unnecessary additional tasks in terms of care.
The right working atmosphere is crucial
Wherever we work, whether in our own four walls, at our desk at home or fully equipped in the office, we all want to feel comfortable while working. In the meantime, a number of advantages and disadvantages of the home office have emerged, and some people prefer the office. And whatever the conclusion for each individual, our working world will undergo permanent change in some areas. So it’s time to give some thought to the design of the environment. As a feel-good factor, can office plants influence creativity and the drive to create? Experts clearly say yes.
Greenery makes you more productive
The fact that houseplants improve the indoor climate, bind dust, and even filter pollutants from the air has been known for some time. But what does it do to us directly when we work in a green environment? Scientists at the University of Exeter studied the effects of green offices on people’s perceptions of air quality, ability to concentrate and job satisfaction, with clearly positive results. And, perhaps most notably, employers took notice: Between plants, office workers’ engagement also increased, as they felt more physically, mentally and emotionally involved in their work.
Result: a productivity increase of up to 15 percent!
Experienced indoor gardeners will have no trouble arranging suitable greenery around the desk – and will also be prepared to give it the care it needs. However, if you don’t feel like constantly keeping the plants moist, spraying them, putting them in water bowls, and pulling off brown leaves, you can opt for office plants with a respectable drought tolerance. For example, those that have acquired an internal moisture reservoir in the course of evolution or have acquired a thick coat of hardy, evaporation-inhibiting foliage. Among them are many well-known “dust catchers” such as the palm lily (Yucca elephantipes, Y. aloifolia) or the rubber tree (Ficus elastica), which was long displaced by the more graceful, elegant birch fig (F. benjamina), but ultimately more generously overlooks care deficiencies. New, compact-growing and partly variegated varieties such as ‘Melany’, ‘Tineke’, ‘Belize’ or ‘Australis’ also adapt to more confined spaces.
Even the once discredited bow hemp (Sansevieria) has been pulled out of the hat again and has enjoyed great popularity for some time now. The classic in numerous color varieties, and even more so its new partner, the Cylindrical Bow Hemp (S. cylindrica), look like green sculptures with their graphic leaf structure. Nothing will kill them – just too much water.
This, by the way, is the unifying characteristic of all the species presented here: they absolutely do not tolerate waterlogging! Whoever waters, should do so thoroughly, so that the pot ball is soaked to the bottom. Afterwards, however, it is time to drink tea, devote yourself to the next project and in the meantime let the soil dry out again considerably. This can take time, but it should. And if the next watering is forgotten because of the zeal for work or pressing deadlines, most plants take this hurdle with flying colors: potbellies such as the elephant foot (Beaucarnea recurvata), the spiny, poisonous Madagascar palm (Pachypodium lamerei) or the lucky chestnut (Pachira aquatica) can store large amounts of water in their succulent stems. In lucky feather (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), the spongy storage tissue is located in the thickened petioles. In many other succulents, it is found in the shoots or leaves.
Office plants that like, or at least tolerate, year-round room temperature are most suitable for the (home) office. These include haworthias (Haworthia) and gasterias (Gasteria), dwarf peppers with fleshy foliage (e.g., Peperomia ferreyrae, P. graveolens), succulent spurge species (e.g. Euphorbia lactea, E. tirucalli, E. trigona) and, great in hanging baskets, coral cactus (Rhipsalis), pea plant (Senecio rowleyanus) and candlestick flower (Ceropegia woodii). Most cacti, on the other hand, as well as other ornamental arid artists such as echeverias, thickleafs (Crassula) and aloe vera, need a cooler location in winter at temperatures around 6-12 °C, otherwise they will get out of shape unsightly and become susceptible to diseases and pests. Therefore, in autumn they should be moved to a bright guest room or staircase. And what about magnificent flowers in the home office? Here, too, an old acquaintance comes up trumps: the butterfly orchid. As long as the Phalaenopsis hybrids are not subjected to blazing sun or unsuitable substrate, a little carelessness, especially when watering, is absolutely no problem!
Bottle garden – little garden in a glass jar.
In jars with a small opening plants are better protected from drying out. Even more effectively and amazingly well work hermetically sealed plant terrariums. In them, a self-sustaining ecosystem can develop that thrives for years without intervention – provided the choice of materials and plants are right. Only low-growing species such as Chinese fig (Ficus microcarpa), mosaic plant (Fittonia), pinnate aralia (Polyscias filicifolia), peperomia, dwarf ferns and mosses will remain sufficiently small in the long term.
Here, too, the location is important: very bright, but not sunny, and not above the heater.
Recommendations for low-maintenance office plants
The lance rosette (Aechmea fasciata) looks a bit crude, but its inflorescences with pink bracts last for months. Water it at longer intervals directly into the funnel of silver-scaled leaves.
The fuzzy head with long, overhanging shoots, also called coral cactus (Rhipsalis), has so little to do with our image of a typical cactus. But in terms of drought tolerance, the fuzzy head is in no way inferior to its roundish colleagues.
In any case, it is worthwhile to think outside the box when it comes to aloe. The well-known Aloe vera is only one of many. The leaf rosettes of Aloe aristata, Aloe humilis, Aloe rauhii, Aloe variegata and Aloe squarrosa, for example, are more beautifully shaped and attractively toothed or marked.
Young succulents involuntarily encourage collecting. All the diversity of their colors and shapes is particularly effective in uniform pots. While some remain small forever, others grow into large solitaires over the years.
The cobbler palm (Aspidistra elatior) is all around undemanding. It does not require much water, light or heat and can even cope with dry heating air. It is not for nothing that it has the honorary title of ‘cast iron plant’ in English. The white spotted ‘Milky Way’ likes it a little brighter.
Office plants with a difference
Vertical gardens – upwards
An entire wall of living greenery looks like a large poster. This vertical surface breathes in office air and releases it, reduced of CO2 and toxins, pleasantly humidified.
The plant walls and room dividers are automatically supplied with water and do not need any soil at all. They reduce stress just by looking at them, reminiscent of landscapes and astonish with their lively abundance. As an alternative to walls made of diverse plant communities, there are also moss walls for interiors. When it comes to a good working environment, plants are, after all, the ideal employees.
Pressed art – decorative walls without effort
You want it to be particularly uncomplicated, but do not want to do without the advantages of office plants? Then our particularly low-maintenance variant is certainly something for you.
Simply press between a few layers of newspaper and a few books beautiful leaves, flowers or fronds. Then place these in suitable picture frames.
Tip: Fix the pressed plants on the back with double-sided tape so that nothing slips.