Updated: May 18
There are so many benefits to maintaining indoor plants in an office space from creating a positive first impression to improving employee's sense of well-being.
However, people don't necessarily realise that there are some potential challenges to maintaining these office plants in a healthy state which explains why we often see miserable plants in shopping malls and office receptions.
Challenges of maintaining indoor plants in an office setting
The majority of the plants we use indoors are under story plants, which means they grow in the shade of other plants, and that explains how they can grow survive in the lower light conditions indoors.
However, indoor environment is not 'natural.' Plants are meant to be outside and in their natural environment they get all the water an nutrients that they need. Now, when we bring them indoors, we place them in a container, we limit their growth and the amount of light they receive. When we consider how to look after indoor plants, we have to compensate for all these in order to get maximum growth.
Providing Optimal Lighting and Temperature
Most buildings have considerably lower light than outside and light is necessary for the plant to produce food for itself. Within a few weeks you may notice a plant growing limp or distorted which is worth considering. Give plants good indirect light and turn them every few days to ensure even growth.
Watering and Fertilizing Indoor Plants
In the wild a plants roots can spread quite deep and wide to ensure that it can capture the nutrients and water that it needs. In a pot this root development is stunted so plants have to be carefully watered and fertilised according to their growing season. In Zambia, the growing season is usually after the cold season, from September to about April. In the warm weather, with the moisture, most plants will put on significant leaf growth and even flower and fruit in this season. Most plants do not want their roots to sit in water so be sure to water thoroughly then let it drain out so that it is no longer dripping.
Preventing and Treating Pests and Diseases
Plants are especially vulnerable to pests indoors because of the limited airflow and because their immune response is not at it's best indoors. By keeping good airflow and good drainage you can keep pest at bay. Unfortunately, chemical pesticides, although effective, can be dangerous, especially if applied in an office setting. If you have to spray the plant, apply the spray outdoors, and try use an organic spray such as neem oil.
Choose Stronger Plants
There are some plants that are relatively resilient, low maintenance you can purchase; monstera deliciosa, sanseviera, and ficus benjamina. These are easily available in local nurseries in Zambia.
However, eventually deterioration of plants when kept indoors is inevitable, even when you do choose the right indoor plants for your office. It's a good idea to keep a stock of extra plants outside somewhere, that you can rotate into your office when the other plants are not thriving.
Outsource Plant Maintenance
If you only have one or two plants, it is easy enough to manage the health of the plants. However, for a large office, where you may have 30 plants of different sizes and temperament, it's definitely worth considering an plant rental service that takes care of all these issues for you and who will ensure that your office maintains healthy plants. This mean that you can save on the costs of having to maintain a selection of plants, as well as the labour costs associated with training and individual to maintain a large number of plants.