Plants and flowers for office environments
Certain plants and flowers flourish in an office environment. Learn which plants and flowers to choose for your office.
By Kira Connally
Many plants can be used in office environments for decoration and enjoyment. Below are some of the easiest to grow in offices with windows or in work spaces limited to artificial light. With many colorful and flowering choices, office plants can bring life and warmth to dull, drab office spaces.
For offices exposed to natural light, try these varieties on a window sill or under a skylight.
Croton: a large plant grown for its foliage. Thick stems branch out into large, colorful leaves. Many varieties have multiple showy colors. Croton prefers warmer, humid areas, such as south-facing windows.
Amaryllis: bulbs usually forced indoors and over-wintered in a cold area to promote next year’s flowering. Amaryllis bulbs will send up tall flower stalks with 6-8 blooms per stalk and are available in a wide choice of colors.
Sanservieria: also known as “spike plant” or “mother-in-law’s tongue”, this is a very easy care plant. Tall, broad foliage spikes shoot upwards, and flower on thin stems in spring if provided enough water. The spikes are often shot through with white and the edges are tinged yellow. Allow the plant to dry out between waterings for best results.
Small Cacti: bowls of cacti mixtures as well as Christmas Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus are perfect for busy offices. The mixed variety bowls makes lovely boardroom centerpieces without the cost of fresh flowers. They will tolerate extreme neglect, and produce colorful, unusual flowers. Christmas Cactus most often flowers red or dark pink.
Kalanchoe: a succulent with small bursts of bloom above a mound of glossy foliage is an office favorite. Water regularly, and place in a sunny window. Bloom colors are available in many shades of white, yellow and pink.
For offices with artificial lighting conditions, these plants can add color and life to the work space.
Peace Lily: leafy foliage and pale white flowers make the Peace Lily an excellent office plant. Provide plenty of water to promote blooms. Peace Lilies are often grown in clear glass vases with a Betta fish feeding on the roots below.
African Violets: small dark purple or lavender flowers cover the dark green leaves year round. The leaves appear covered in white fuzz, a contrast to the leaf color. Fertilize with food designed for African Violets, and keep soil moist but not soggy.
Caladium: a native of the tropics, also called “elephant ears”, Caladiums can be successfully grown indoors. Large, rounded leaves provide a colorful show in shades from white to dark pink and red. Most leaves have light centers and darker, thickly veined edges. Mist the plant often to provide humid conditions.
Ivy: hedera helix is a popular variety suited to office conditions. The dark and sometimes variegated leaves grow on thin vines. Provide support for the plant to climb and water sparingly. Ivy can tolerate dark corners as well as brighter areas.
Spider Plant: interesting, spiky light green foliage is the hallmark of this plant. Spider plant is beautiful in a hanging basket and tolerant of mild neglect. Stems will cascade down over the pot’s edges with new stems branching from the old ones. Spider plant requires minimal light.
All indoors plants will require careful watering. Most soils should be kept moist but not damp or soggy. Any water collected in a saucer below the pot should be removed immediately.
Indoor plants need special fertilizer. Many people prefer the ease of fertilizer spikes, which can last up to three months. No matter which fertilizer you choose, be sure to read package directions. Using too much can burn a plant’s root system; too little and the plant will suffer.
Be sure to remove any brown or damaged leaves as soon as you see them. This can be a sign of too little light or too much water. Plants that lean toward a light source should be relocated to a spot with stronger light.
The appearance of any indoor plant can be improved with an interesting or unusual container. Terra cotta is a favorite, but many resin and plastic pots are now available for reasonable prices. Contrast the pot color with the plants foliage color to spice up dull desks or dark, neglected corners of the office. Humidity loving plants, such as the Croton, thrive in warm, oft-overlooked areas like copy rooms.
A reception desk or meeting room decorating with colorful, live plants can promote a more friendly and causal environment, putting clients at ease. Take a good look at your office and you’re sure to find a perfect space for a small, delicate African Violet or an easy-care, brightly colored Amaryllis.
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