Humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. This is what scientists refer to as ‘biophilia’. Sadly, the spaces where most of us spend nearly 9 hours every day are often stripped of the natural beauty and fresh air our bodies so greatly desire.
Numerous studies have proven that incorporating some greenery in the form of indoor plants can improve our mood and overall productivity. In this post, I’ll discuss 5 indoor plants you can easily add to your office today for better health and productivity.
The Benefits of Indoor Plants for the Office (According to Science)
Ultimate Stress Busters
Back in 2010, the New University of Technology, Sydney conducted a study to examine the effects of adding greenery to office settings.
Researchers discovered that when plants were introduced, there was a 37% decrease in reported cases of tension and anxiety, a 58% fall in depression and a 44% reduction in anger and hostility. Even workplace fatigue, a condition that affects up to two-thirds of the US workforce, dropped 38% in the study after the introduction of plants.
While the sample used was small, it shows just how important it is to add plants to workspaces.
Natural Purifiers in a Pot
Another reason why you should consider house plants is because they act as natural air purifiers.
In 1989, NASA carried out an experiment to determine potential ways of purifying the air in their space station environment. In the process, they discovered that indoor plants were extremely effective in ridding the air of cancer-causing volatile organic compounds
Bill Wolverton, one of the researchers, believes that larger, leafier houseplants are the best for this application. This is because they have a larger leaf surface area, which translates to a higher rate of air purification.
If for no other reason, incorporate indoor plants to boost your productivity. Your productivity can increase by up to 15% if you add a couple of plants to your workspace, according to a 2014 study done by Exeter University.
Dr. Chris Knight, one of the researchers, reported that adding a single plant per square meter helped employees improve their memory retention capability and score higher on basic tests.
Reduces Risk of Illnesses
Have you ever heard of the sick building syndrome? Well, it’s an actual health condition- it occurs when a building’s occupants fall ill for no apparent reason. Often, the causes of this syndrome are narrowed down to issues with the HVAC systems.
The good news is, adding indoor plants to your office can reduce your risk of sick building syndrome. Based on this research, workers who added live plants to their offices experienced a 16% increase in overall wellbeing. Colds dropped by 24%, coughs by 37%, and dry throats by 25%. Even dry and irritated skin symptoms were reduced by 23% after the introduction of plants.
Improves Acoustics in Your Office
Having trouble concentrating because there’s too much background noise? All you need to do is add a couple of indoor plants. New research suggests that plants fend off unwanted noise inside buildings, reducing it by at least 5 decibels.
Of course, the species and number of plants you choose for this purpose will influence just how much noise they’ll be able to reduce.
5 Best Low Maintenance Indoor Plants for the Office
Now that you’re aware of the immense benefits plants bring to the office, here are 5 of my favorite indoor plants you should consider that are easy to take care of.
Your office should look and feel like a second home, and a snake plant can help you achieve that. Good thing is, you don’t even have to put a lot of effort into caring for this plant, as it can survive in virtually any condition.
Even better is the fact that the snake plant can purify the air in your surroundings. It does this by absorbing toxins through its leaves and then releasing pure oxygen. While other plants continue to give off carbon dioxide at night (since no photosynthesis takes place at night), the snake plant is gracious enough to release oxygen.
Light: Can survive in low light. However, they thrive better with a natural source of light so consider adding them to a room with windows.
Water: Requires little amounts of water. You only need to water your snake plant when the top layer of the soil is completely dry. This could be several days before you have to water this plant again.
Known mainly for its medicinal value, the aloe makes for another attractive and easy to care for indoor plant.
In fact, this is one of my favorite houseplants for several reasons. One, it’s capable of purifying the air. It rids your surroundings of toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene, cleaning products among other chemical-filled office items.
Two, it’s the ultimate remedy for a range of conditions. Whether you have a sunburn from your long weekend at the beach or are suffering from acne, you can use the aloe plant to treat your condition. Simply cut and squeeze aloe gel from one of its leaves, and apply it on the affected area.
Light: The aloe needs a sunny spot so place it on your office window sill. It can also survive with indirect or artificial source of light.
Water: The rule of thumb here is to water deeply but just occasionally. You can water every three weeks and even fewer times during winter.
You also need to fertilize the aloe plant sparingly. Once a month is enough and only use a balanced houseplant formula.
Are you looking for a colorful plant that will liven up your office environment? Look no further than Gerbera daisies.
These daisies have long-lasting flowers that grow to between 3 and 4 inches. Plus they’re available in an array of shades ranging from yellow and white to pink, lavender, red and orange. Not only are these plants bright and cheerful but they’re also pretty good at purifying the air.
Light: These plants are slightly more challenging to grow indoors. They need a specific combination of bright light and moderate temperatures.
Placing them near a sunny window may result in extreme heat that scorches the leaves. However, with inadequate sunlight, the plant may not bloom. Thus, you have to find the perfect balance between bright lighting and average temperatures.
If you work in an enclosed space, you can use artificial light sources. However, ensure they get light all day long.
Water: Like aloe plants, gerbera daisies should be watered deeply whenever the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. Water infrequently during winter, but don’t let the soil turn bone dry.
Another colorful plant, the African Violet flowers come in different shades of purple, pink or white. What makes them such ideal indoor plants is the fact that they thrive in the same temperatures that we do: average humidity and temperatures.
What’s more, these plants take up very little space, meaning they’re an excellent choice for those with small desktops. In fact, miniature violets are less than six inches in diameter.
Light: Although they need sufficient light to bloom, the African Violets aren’t finicky about the source of light. Ideally, you should provide them with indirect sunlight that won’t scorch them. However, even a fluorescent bulb that cast ample light can help the Saintpaulia to flourish.
Water: This is where it gets a little tricky. The correct way to water the violets is from underneath. This means you’ll need to keep them in a container with a saucer.
Alternatively, invest in a pot designed specifically for growing African violets. This setup will have a top part where the plant grows and a bottom section that acts as a water reservoir. In addition, be sure to change the water each week.
The spider plant will make an excellent addition to any office environment. They require very minimal maintenance and thrive in low light or heavily shaded areas. They also aid in cleaning air.
In a study carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the spider plant eliminated up to 95% of toxic substances from a sealed plexiglass chamber within 24 hours.
Soil: For the best outcome, you should keep your spider plant in a good potting medium such as vermiculite or coco coir. You need not worry too much about the type of soil however, as these are highly adaptable plants.
Light: These plants need adequate shade or indirect sunlight.
Adding a few plants is one of the easiest ways to elevate all areas of wellbeing in the office, from better air quality, reduced sickness, to improved productivity and mood.