guide to office plants

A Quick Guide to Office Plant Maintenance

If you’ve ever cared for an office plant or another indoor plant, you know that they can be a delight.

Indoor plants can make a room feel fresher and bring some of the outdoors in. Their foliage and color can be a pleasant and soothing addition to any space.

But you may also know that keeping an indoor plant healthy can be tricky. After all, they can’t thrive on their own. They can require a lot of attention and care.

If you’re considering adding some plants to your office space, you should consider each of the following factors before you make a selection. That way, you won’t end up tossing the poor thing in the trash a few months later!

Why Do You Want an Office Plant?

There are many reasons you might want to buy a plant for your office.

Some people want to use plants to add a bit of privacy to an open area. Or, they may be looking for a plant for solely aesthetic purposes, such as because they are trying to follow a room design they saw online that has a botanical look. Maybe they know that plants can have a soothing quality and they’re trying to create a more calming atmosphere for their clients or customers.

reception area plants

Others just want a pretty living thing to sit on their desk. Taking care of a little plant and watching it grow — sometimes over years — can add a calming ritual to your day and sprinkle a little joy into a sterile office space.

desk plant

Getting clear on the role you expect the plant to play in the office is an important first step because it will determine where you want the plant to sit and what you expect it to look like.

Once you know where you want a plant to “live” within the office, you can choose a plant that will fit nicely in the space and will thrive in the conditions (light, humidity, etc.) there.

Based on its location, you can also be more realistic about how much time and energy you (or someone else on staff) is realistically able to spend caring for the plant. For example, a plant stuck in a common area or in a corner or on a conference room table might be more likely to be neglected than a little plant sitting on someone’s personal desk.

Office Plant Maintenance and Care

No matter which type of plant you eventually choose or where it goes in your office, you’ll need to understand how each of the following factors will influence the plant’s care. And, once you have all the information you need to care for your office plant, make sure you have a coworker or even office cleaning staff to fill in if you’re ever out of the office. 

Oh. You couldn't have watered it?

Light: If there’s one thing that indoor plants tend to have in common, it’s low light requirements. Many of these plants evolved for conditions on rainforest floors where little light filters through, which is why they are so adaptable to indoor environments. Some indoor plants can even be scorched if you put them too close to a window that gets direct sunlight, for example. Others, though indoors, will fare best in a bright room with plenty of indirect light. Consider how much sunlight a particular area of your office gets throughout the day and throughout the year as the sun’s patterns change.

Temperature: Most plants will do fine in a typical indoor office temperature, but it’s worth considering whether or not the temperature of the office will fluctuate when the office closes down for long breaks, such as over the winter holidays, and whether that could seriously stress out your plants. You should also note where the plant is in regard to the heat and cooling registers, since being blasted directly with cold or hot air throughout the year can be stressful for most plants.

Humidity: Some tropical plants may not fare as well in dryer climates or in offices with low humidity. You may be able to put some smaller, humidity-loving plants in a desktop terrarium to help meet its humidity needs. You could even add a humidifier to a room in dryer months to make it more comfortable for both people and plants.

Air Flow and Dust: In nature, plants live in the wind and rain. The dust that gathers on plant leaves indoors isn’t natural and can interfere with their ability to breathe and block the sunlight they need to create food. When you see dust starting to accumulate on your plant, it’s time to wipe off the leaves.

Water: Even the most novice plant owners know that they’ll have to give their plants enough water if they want them to survive. Using a long wooden skewer can help ensure that you’re watering the plant enough to reach the bottom of the pot. Watch out for signs of under watering, such as brown edges on the tips of your plant’s leaves. However, too much water can also be unhealthy for a plant. Signs of overwatering include yellowing leaves and fungus gnats. A drainage hole on the bottom of your plant’s pot can help ensure that the roots don’t sit in water and rot.

Pest Control: Monitor office plants for signs of pests, such as aphids, mealybugs, or spider mites. If pests are detected, take appropriate measures to control them, such as using insecticidal soaps or natural pest control methods. Regularly inspecting plants helps catch pest infestations early, preventing extensive damage.

Rotating and Repotting: Rotate plants occasionally to ensure even growth and prevent leaning towards light sources. When necessary, repot plants using fresh potting soil to provide adequate space for root growth. Repotting is typically done when the plant outgrows its current container or every 1-2 years.

Fertilizer: Plants in nature absorb minerals from the soil around them, and those minerals are naturally replenished when the plant is part of a thriving ecosystem. Your new plant will eventually use up all of the nutrients in its pot, which means you’ll have to replenish those nutrients manually. You can choose from among liquid fertilizers that dissolve in your watering can or slow-release pellets that slowly dissolve in your soil over time.

Pruning and Trimming: Regular pruning helps maintain the shape, size, and overall health of office plants. Remove any dead, yellowed, or diseased leaves to prevent the spread of pests or diseases. Trim back overgrown branches to promote bushier growth and maintain a tidy appearance.

Plant Size and Aesthetics

Now that you know what the plant will require in terms of care and environment, you can narrow down the specific types of plants that would be a good fit for your office space.

When browsing your plant options, make sure to consider the plant’s mature height and width, as it will continue to grow once you purchase it and take it home with you.

Indoor plants come in all shapes, sizes, and even colors. Choose a plant with a color and shape that speaks to you — one you’ll be happy to look at daily, hopefully for years to come.


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