It might be the only member of the office team you can trust, it might hide you and your growing mound of paperwork from the eye line of your bosses or it might just be the only living reminder of a world outside, a garden and a life of greener things.
But the office plant really is one of the team, and deserves looking after.
So here are ten tips for keeping your plant really healthy:
1 – Let there be light
You need to ensure that your plant has sufficient light to be able to grow. Many offices, especially large ones have only low powered strip lighting, fit neither for plant nor beast. So if you want to see your plant doing well, get it as much natural light as possible.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to take you plant on holiday for a week to your home to get all boosted and pampered. If you want to keep your plant on the desk, move it for a few hours during the day to a window, but watch out for our next tip.
2 – Watch out for the radiators
In most offices, like most homes, the radiator is near the window – the coldest part of the room. Some offices have blown air conditioning. Both of these can be detrimental to plants, making them too hot, and drying them out more rapidly than normal.
Find a light source that is cool, without radiators and away from other electrical equipment.
3 – It’s not a plant stand
Computers and plants do not mix, especially where they are high powered machines giving off lots of heat and radiation. The number of accidents from spilt watering probably costs businesses more than they can afford, and probably a number of lost jobs to boot.
4 – Don’t overwater
We all do it, but interestingly more at work. People tend to overwater, thinking this is the way to keep the plant alive. If the compost feels slightly damp, it’s fine! Leave it alone.
Most plants do not want to be sat in a pot in a saucer of water – it’s not a cat, it’s a plant and waterlogged roots don’t encourage good plant health.
5 – Feed once a month
The problem with plants in pots is they run out of nutrients quickly, so once a month, give them a feed that is correctly diluted. Plants lacking nutrients look as though they are wilting, and therefore people simply give them extra water! Don’t, a feed a month is fine.
6 – Get to know your plant
The most important part of any plant in office or at home is get to understand what it needs.
- If it has thick leaves that look all spongy, it likes dry conditions.
- If it has hairy leaves, it usually likes a wide pot, like St Paulias.
- If it is blueish, it doesn’t particularly like bright sunlight all day long.
7 – Don’t put your brew next to your plant
This is the quickest way to destroy your plant. The heat from the cup causes local damage and the steam moistens the leaves. This causes a prime source of infection from fungi, and your plants will get sick.
8 – Repot and divide your plants
Once a year move the plant to a bigger pot and give it fresh compost.
Learn how to divide your plant and you can give them away to other offices too!
9 – Keep them on a tray
In order to separate the world of plant from the world of desk, keep your plant on a tray, which will then cope with minor spillages and keep the whole area from disaster.
10 – Stop touching
If you touch, so will others, and during the course of the week the plant might easily become damaged from too much handling.
Some plants when touched, or worse, when broken, have a self help mechanism to make themselves look unpalatable to potential herbivores, so constant handling might well cause problems.
Paul Peacock studied botany at Leeds University, has been the editor of Home Farmer magazine, and now hosts the City Cottage online magazine. An experienced gardener himself, his expertise lies in the world of the edible garden. If it clucks, quacks or buzzes, Paul is keenly interested.
He is perhaps best known as Mr Digwell, the cartoon gardener featured in The Daily Mirror since the 1950s. As Mr Digwell he has just published his book, A Year in The Garden. You can also see more about him on our Mr Digwell information page.