Want to liven up your office cubicle? Try adding a plant! Plants keep office air fresher and cleaner, make workers feel better and plenty of studies have shown that they actually increase workplace productivity.
Here are a few things to consider when selecting the perfect plant to liven up your cubicle.
Plants are usually denoted as full-sun, partial-sun, or shade plants. You can, roughly, translate those terms into placement relative to a window. Plants that require full sun do best right next to a window with excellent sun exposure, partial-sun plants can survive further from a window or by a window with weak sun exposure, and shade plants do well out of direct sunlight and even with nothing but light exposure from artificial light in your office.
Although it sounds straightforward, lighting can be a little tricky. While the sun is consistent—if you tell a local nursery worker that you have a spot in your yard that gets 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, it leaves little up for question—indoor lighting is highly variable. The number of bulbs, the distance from the fixtures, and so on, can greatly alter the quality of light your plant is receiving. Some offices leave lights on at night for security reasons or for night staff—if your office is this way, make sure to give your plant extra water and occasional supplementation by fertilizer as it is essentially working 24/7.
Before you even start selecting plants you want to think about your coworkers. Pollen and mold allergies are commonplace, so you’ll want to address those before you even purchase your plants.
It’s very rare for indoor plants, especially those kept under the low-light of office conditions, to flower. Nonetheless, if you have coworkers with pollen allergies—and it’s highly probable you do—you should either avoid flowering plants or snip off the flower buds as soon as they appear.
You can do two things to virtually eliminate any mold issues that might crop up. If the plants you buy aren’t already potted in indoor potting soil, you should re-pot them. Indoor potting soil is formulated for indoor use and is much more resistant to mold than outdoor potting soil. Additionally you should water plants deeply and thoroughly and then allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering again. Constantly damp soil without the exposure to the sunshine and wind it would be exposed to outdoors can lead to mold. It’s a very small consideration in the grand scheme of things but if the worker in the cube next to yours has severe mold allergies you’ll be doing them a huge favor.
The last co-worker consideration isn’t health related but it is important. Will you be consistent in caring for your plants? If no plants in the work place is bad, dead plants are worse. Lining the top shelf of your cube with healthy plants gives everyone a welcome glimpse of nice green foliage. If you don’t take care of them, however, you’ll be showing off splotchy and wilted plants.
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, it’s time to consider some plants. We’re going to focus on shade-loving and shade-tolerant plants since your cubicle may not be near window or sun exposure.
Eglish Ivy (Hedera helix): It’s an invasive plant in many parts of the world—a testament to its hardiness!—so you might not be able to purchase it in your locale. That said, it’s very hardy and will happily grow and climb across your cube. You may want to purchase a small wood or mesh grid from the hardware or craft store for it to climb on.
Wandering Jew (Tradescantia zebrina): Also known as “Inch Plant”, Wandering Jew has leaves with strong dark green and silvery green contrast.
Asparagus Fern: Grown as an ornamental plant when used outdoors, this one is definitely not a top-shelf plant. Under ideal conditions it can grow to be three feet tall and equally as wide. It’s bushy and bright green, and a perfect match for an empty cubicle corner.
Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria): Known as Mother-In-Law’s Tongue and Snake Tongue (for being sharp and for their long shape) these plants are hardy and pleasant to look at. They have strong leaf color contrast, grow to 2-3ft tall under ideal conditions, and in a pinch can be used in incantations to protect yourself from being bewitched. Mother-In-Law’s Tongue is also one of the top plants you can select for removing pollutants from your environment.
Jade Plant (Carssula ovata): The Jade Plant is hardy and long lived—it may well outlive you. The leaves are vibrant green and have a shiny rubbery appearance. It needs to be well watered but otherwise is largely hassle free.