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Jun 26, 2024

Invigorating Our Space

Written by Jenny Kavinski

One of my first projects when I interned at FourthIdea was brainstorming ideas for the office’s interior design. This involved studying the space, observing the properties, and considering elements that could be repeated throughout the office and break up the hard surfaces that are often found in workspaces. The solution? Plants!

What made me want to be an office plant lady?

I became a full-blown plant lady during the pandemic, so becoming the office plant lady was already a natural extension of what I already do at home! I genuinely care about the plants, and my mom says that if you talk to the plants, they will thrive and do better than if you didn’t. I used to think this was silly, but it makes sense—if you can take the time to talk to them, it means you’re stopping to observe each individual plant to notice positive or negative signs.

Plant Perks

Bringing a bit of nature into our workspace brings several benefits: according to NASA research, plants can remove up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours. Studies have even shown that having well-placed plants throughout the office can increase productivity by 15%. Filling our space with plants helps reduce noise, anxiety, and can even creates a natural privacy buffer in our open floor plan. The welcoming atmosphere created for office visitors is a huge plus, too.

With a circular design and several large, tall windows surrounding everyone’s workspace, the plants can happily thrive along the window sills behind our desks, and provide a fun lens through which to view the surrounding downtown skyline. I find it grounding to take a break from my work and glance at the philodendron Birkin next to my desk, noticing new leaves emerging.

How It Started Vs How It’s Going

I am very proud to say we haven’t lost a single plant since our big plant installation. A huge shoutout to Johanna from local business Put A Plant On It, who helped with the initial office plant consultation. It’s always a pleasure to support local Buffalo businesses, especially supporting someone who is as passionate as she is about plants. After touring our office, Johanna provided an in-depth analysis of what species would thrive in which spaces, based on the light the windows received at different times of the day, and even noting the temperature of the room. With her guidance, we were able to bring in enough plants to surround the open office, invigorate the conference room where we hold our morning meetings, and even add plants in the bathrooms!

Care & Maintenance Routine

I don’t follow too strict of a watering schedule, but I do try to look closely at the plants at the beginning and end of the week. The plant care cards provided to us from Put A Plant On It were a great starting point for me, being unfamiliar with several of the plant species. Now that I’m more familiar with the temperaments of the different plants, I know when to water them. For example, the peace Lily Sensations in the conference room let me know when they need water by looking very, very sad when they’re thirsty (they’re drama queens). Once you water them thoroughly, in a few hours they perk right back up!

Occasionally, if I’m going to be out of the office I’ll ask a point person to water the plants in my absence. However, this usually doesn’t end well (see above about the drama queen plants).

Results & Reactions

It’s been fun taking care of the plants and seeing my coworkers take ownership of them too. Phil, also a plant father, is often the first to point out new growth on the ZZ plants near his desk. Joe has observed that the conference room snake plant is in fact taller than him, and has even adopted a pothos for his home office. We’ve also relocated a few Chinese Evergreens to Sophie’s work area, and she has been taking very good care of them. For some reason, Joe insists on calling them Sophie’s “birds of paradise,” even though that’s not correct. We just let him continue to call them that. Either way, they are thriving under her care!

Tips

In general, I’ve found it better to give plants a very thorough watering less often, than it is to give them small sips amounts of water too often. Also, consider how many plants need watering in your office, get a can that is large enough to do the job—our office watering can is laughably small, which means several trips to the faucet. Lastly, be sure to keep an eye on office pets around plants: Lou likes to throw dirt around occasionally to entertain himself. 🙂

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