Indoor plants for a happy, healthy office


Indoor plant tips

Indoor Plants for a Happy, Healthy Office

Potted plants brighten up any office space, but they also have a number of other benefits. Studies have shown that indoor plants can help to prevent “sick building syndrome” (which occurs in offices where the indoor air is never replaced by fresh air from outdoors) by absorbing harmful toxins from the air. These toxins, including formaldehyde and benzene, are emitted from building materials, furniture, carpets, copy machines and cleaning materials.

US space agency NASA recently conducted an experiment aimed at finding ways to purify contaminated air in a space capsule. In the study, a number of common indoor plants were placed in sealed containers. Formaldehyde, a toxic chemical, was then leaked into the containers. Within 24 hours, the plants had removed 80% of the formaldehyde from the containers. Based on this study, it is estimated that one plant can purify the air in an area measuring 10m2. Flowering plants work more quickly than foliage plants, but the long-lasting effect of foliage plants makes them most suited to purifying air in indoor spaces.

NASA also found that indoor plants can remove up to 87% of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air. VOCs are harmful substances emitted by paint, paint stripper, cleaning supplies and pesticides. VOCs can cause headaches, allergies, nausea and respiratory tract infections, leading to high levels of absenteeism at work.

Studies conducted by numerous researchers have shown that having plants in an office space also makes employees happier and more productive. In research conducted at Washington State University, participants with similar abilities were given computer tests to complete – some in rooms with plants, and others without. The reaction time of those in the rooms with the plants was 12% higher, on average, and their blood pressure readings were also lower, indicating lower stress levels. A similar study at Surrey University found that, when subjected to arithmetic tests, those in rooms populated with plants showed lower stress levels and a quicker recovery after the test than those in rooms where no plants were present.

Lastly, plants also increase the overall moisture content in the air, which helps to counteract the drying effect that air conditioners typically have on our skin, hair and eyes while we are at work.

Here are a few ideas for plants that thrive in office areas :

  • Phalaenopsis (also known as the moth orchid) adds instant elegance to any reception area and, if properly cared for, they will flower for up to three months a year. They may have a delicate appearance, but they’re actually quite tough, needing only to be watered once weekly in summer and once every two weeks in winter. They will do best when given bright light, but no direct sunlight.
  • Mother in law’s tongue is ideal for minimalistic, modern office spaces. They are very tough and easy to care for, requiring only bright light and occasional watering (the soil must be allowed to dry out before watering again).
  • Spathiphyllum species need a cool space with good light. Place them on a drip tray on top of a layer of pebbles with water below to ensure sufficient humidity.
  • Hen and chickens is usually planted as a garden groundcover, but it also grows remarkably well indoors. It functions as a natural air freshener, filtering the air of toxins, and also looks great with its attractive striped green foliage. It grows well in spots with low light. Keep it moist in summer and drier during the winter months.