So why indoor plants?
Have you ever sat in a dentists or doctor’s waiting room? And the anxiety builds and builds as you stare at chrome edged partitions, tiled floor, bright lights with the background noises of phones ringing, announcements and the HISS of the HVAC system? It noise is nerve wracking.
Have you ever sat in a waiting room that was full of plants? The reflected light is diffused with green. The ambient noises muffled by the leaves. The view softened by the plants? It trends to the serene. People relax around plants.
Which one would you prefer? The hiss of HVAC or the silent air filtering action of plants?
There is a word being bandied about and the word is BIOPHILIA. In simple terms, biophilia is a human need to be around other living creatures. This is why we have pets, and why sitting in an office waiting room surrounded by plants is a good thing!
I do not pretend to be an expert in biophilic design but I would classify myself as a plant expert. We work with designers and THEY are the experts in biophilic design. Having said that, we have put plants in offices to brighten the space, increase workers’ enjoyment, and they just look darned nice!
We use only the best plant suppliers in Ontario. It is very important to not only know the best plant to use and it equally important to get the best quality plants available. That is why we use the suppliers we use.
If you GOOGLE “the benefits of having plants in an office” you will get a TON of responses. Most of them are backed by empirical evidence, some are not, and some of the evidence is a bit, shall we say, skewed.
Here is my take on the top reasons to have indoor plants around you:
Plants Can Help Reduce Stress Levels
At least one study has shown that having plants around you – at home, at the office, at the dentist – can help reduce stress levels. In short, the study showed tech workers who had a small gardening task to complete before work had better concentration, lower psychological and physiological stress levels.
It was shown that plants can lower stress in humans.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence showing plants reduce stress. Facebook posts about forest bathing, people posting photos of themselves in nature, people camping…. Being around plants and being in nature reduces stress.
Real (versus artificial) Plants May Sharpen Your Attention
There is an interesting study that broke some students into 4 groups. 1 classroom had a real plant, one with no plant, one with an artificial plant and one with a photo of a plant. Brain scans show the students around live plants had better concentration than students in other groups.
In college, our classrooms overlooked part of the Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture Botanic Gardens. I remember watching the plants in the wind, listening to my instructor, absorbing. I teach at Mohawk and Humber colleges. We are in bleak, poorly lit, poorly decorated classrooms. When do I get the most from my students? When we are walking through an arboretum or a greenhouse. I have no scientific proof but I completely believe being around plants is beneficial on so many levels.
Working With Plants Can Be Therapeutic
The Canadian Horticultural Therapy Association exists to provide information, support, and resources to our members, professionals, and the public. I have an acquaintance who is a member of the CHTA and does amazing work with seniors. There are a lot of groups that use horticulture as therapy.
As trite as this may sound, I feel better being around my plants. I have a light stand in my basement and in the winter, you’ll often find me there just hanging out with my tomatoes and peppers.
My wife and I are camping this weekend. We will have our chairs set up under the forest canopy with our books in our hands. My Saturday afternoon we will be completely relaxed…..
Plant May Actually Help You Recover From Illness Faster
There is a study from Texas A&M University that shows patients who just look at plants realize health related benefits. The study revealed hospitals with green areas, garden areas and indoor plants patients can see and even be around have higher recovery rates.
In Milton, our newly renovated hospital has a few areas where patients can see a small garden. I think having the gardens more prominent, patients would benefit more. The seating faces away from the garden. Wouldn’t a green wall, or even stand alone plants be a better thing for patients?
Plants Can Improve Productivity
A plant on your desk may be the best thing you have ever done for yourself. I already told you about the workers that worked with plants before work had lower stress levels? There are studies that show workers around plants are more creative, took fewer sick days and were generally more productive.
My home office is in my basement. I am surrounded by books, which is nice, but when I need to be highly productive and creative I take my laptop outside and sit under the wisteria gazing at the garden. I can sit down to write content first thing in the morning and not look up until lunch time.
There is a greenhouse at Gage Park in Hamilton, Ontario. The public conservatory has tables and chairs in it. Whenever I am at the conservatory (several times a year) there are people occupying this space. These people are almost aways business people or students working away on some project. The energy coming from the plants in this wonderful space is palpable. You need to visit! https://www.hamilton.ca/things-do/parks-green-space/gage-park-tropical-greenhouse
Plants Can Improve Your Entire Attitude Toward Work
A view of a green space has been proven to improve ones job satisfaction. A study shows looked at a few hundred Amazon workers in the United States and India. These workers that had some natural elements in their space – such as indoor plants – had greater job satisfaction than those with no natural elements at all.
Interior Air Quality May Be Improved With Plants
It has been proven and disproven that plants can improve indoor air quality. The studies that I have read show a clear division between the 2 groups. But, when I look at the studies they have 2 distinct modalities. One – showing plants improve air quality – are done under fairly strict laboratory conditions. The ones showing plants do not have a positive affect on air quality are dine in more open conditions.
Here is my take on things:
Plants help. <period. full stop. PLANTS HELP
Now, here are my other thoughts on the matter. A plant(s) are going to put out oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. Plants give off water vapour. Some plants absorb toxic chemicals. The soil a plant is growing in is like a carbon filter. BUT is it measurable with a few plants in a large office with an active HVAC system? In my mind, not likely measurable. But is it happening? Without a doubt.
Do you want a more physically and psychologically healthy place? Work place OR living place. Add plants! It is that simple.
There are many ways to add plants but even a simple potted plant helps. A good rule of thumb is 1 10” plants (a plant in a 10” pot) per 100 square feet is a good start in improving your environment.
Some ideas for plant displays:
Lechuza self-watering planters. These planters are our favourite. They come in a wide range of styles and colours. They are not REALLY self watering. The water reservoir must be filled, usually on a monthly basis.
The Live Picture is a unique way to add plants to a wall. Frames come in various sizes. They are “self watering” – they have a water reservoir that needs to be filled periodically. They offer the possibility of adding some very interesting plants to a bland wall.
Live Dividers are a fantastic way to replace boring old fashioned cubicle dividers. Given enough light, these dividers can bring nature to a sterile office situation.
Live Panels are a passive living wall system. These can be customizable to various shapes and layouts. With about a 6 week reserve of water, maintenance on these panels is more reasonable than active living wall installations.
Weekly Floral deliveries. Many offices wanting to give the appearance of affluence will have living floral displays delivered on a weekly basis. From cut flower arrangements to chrysanthemums and orchids, we can customize the displays for each situation.
As usual, please contact us if you have any questions! If you have us in to evaluate your office and present a proposal, we will give you a free floral display for the front counter.