Biophilic principles state an inherent need for humans to connect with nature. Yet barriers created by city living, like gloomy offices and hectic schedules, can prevent us from easily forming that strong connection. Indoor Garden Design has sought to ‘Bring nature to the workplace’ with indoor plants for the past forty five years, but what about when your workplace is in your home?
In this difficult period that the world is currently battling through, many of us are working in a home environment and struggling to find some semblance of normality as we turn living rooms and kitchens into home offices. Studies have shown that improved concentration, better air quality and an overall rise in staff happiness, are just some of the benefits of working in a healthily landscaped room. That’s why it is so important that we apply these principles to our own homes now and let the plants create healthy environments in which we can go about our busy days. So, we’ve done the hard work for you!
Below are our Top 5 Houseplants to boost your productivity at home:
1: Sansevieria (Snake Plant).
Yellow Sansevieria (Image courtesy of thejoyofplants.co.uk)
Top of the list and a plant that anyone can look after – With amazing health benefits, the Sansevieria or Snake plant is the ideal choice to make you more productive. With air cleansing powers greater than most other houseplants, the Snake Plant works overtime to our benefit. Many houseplants are good at removing carbon dioxide from our environment and injecting oxygen, but most other species solely carry out this essential task during the day. Sansevieria, uniquely, works both day and night to keep your home’s air cleaner twenty-four-seven, resulting in a healthier environment all of the time.
The magic of the Snake Plant doesn’t end there. It’s not just CO2 that these ‘super’ indoor plants absorb for us. Research has shown that they also remove parts of harmful toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene – protecting against airborne allergies and other nasty things!!
These plants look great with their sculptural leaf forms and an abundance of sizes and shapes. Needing minimal maintenance, they’ll survive with lower light levels and very dry soil for long periods of time. This makes the Sansevieria an ideal choice for air purification in turn boosting your productivity.
2: Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily).
Spathiphyllum (Image courtesy of thejoyofplants.co.uk)
This eye-catching flowering houseplant is not just a looker. Peace Lilies are supplied in a variety of sizes, and some of the larger specimens make for beautiful floor-standing statements for your home; but it is the Spathiphyllum’s air purifying powers that really make it stand out. After being put to the test by NASA, the humble Peace Lily was found to remove huge amounts of benzene, trichloroethylene, and formaldehyde from indoor environments – cleaning the air and in the process and allowing us to have plenty of healthy oxygen around us rather than being clouded in invisible toxins.
If the Peace Lily’s superpowers are good enough for NASA, then they’re good enough for us! But, surely such a magical plant would need a ‘green fingered’ person to care for it? Not so, Peace Lilies do like to be kept moist, but they don’t need or want heavy watering. They prefer indirect sunlight and will even survive in rooms with lower levels of light if you don’t have another option. If these easy steps are taken, your Peace Lily should bloom every spring and could even bloom again in Autumn should the plant be happy in its home. The Spathiphyllum will help create an attractive, tranquil and healthy environment for you to work in.
Top tip: If your plant isn’t flowering, it may need slightly more light, so move it nearer to a window but be careful not to leave it in direct sunlight for too long as the leaves may scorch. Alike most houseplants, indirect or diffused daylight is best.
3: Ficus Benjamina (Weeping Fig).
Ficus benjamina (Image courtesy of thejoyofplants.co.uk)
If you want to feel like you’re working in an idyllic tropical oasis somewhere, then Ficus benjamina might be the houseplant for you. In its native, humid habitat, Weeping Figs can grow to be huge trees. In our homes however, they can be maintained as small, manageable trees – though still impressive, you may want to consider this one if you are already struggling for space.
This plant is not at all difficult to look after, but there are a few rules that owners should follow to ensure that they have a healthy tree. Ficus benjamina will flourish best when light is indirect, a few feet away from a bright window or behind a light diffusing blind or voile curtain. Being a larger plant type, it is commonly overwatered which will result in yellow / brown leaves.
As is advisbale with most larger houseplants, only water when the top one to two inches of soil are dry – this will prevent root-rot which could kill your plant without immediate remedy. Ficus species also benefit further from misting with a spray bottle of water frequently which will increase humidity around the plants leaves. Also, standing your plant atop a saucer of gravel which is filled with water will allow natural evaporation to raise humidity levels. If you want to go the extra mile, buying a small humidifier to place near the plant periodically will do wonders if the air in your home is very dry. Fertilization throughout spring and summer will also ensure that your Ficus is obtaining all of the nutirents it needs to survive in your home.
This may sound like a lot of plant care to take on board and when you first get your Ficus, it may take a little while for it to settle and acclimatise in its new home. However, once you’ve found the right balance, this tree will thrive and provide your working area with cleaner air and vibrant greenery – helping to take the stress out of your environment, so that you can concentrate more on what matters.
4: Chlorophytum (Spider Plant)
Chlorophytum (Image courtesy of thejoyofplants.co.uk)
The Spider Plant is another NASA recommended toxin killer and productivity champion. This beauty removes carbon monoxide, xylene, formaldehyde and toluene from the air, all of which are toxins given off by common household materials like plastics or adhesives, clearing your airways and providing your brain with all the oxygen it needs to get to work.
The Chlorophytum’s web of tricks doesn’t end there. A high transpiration rate, meaning that it actually creates humidity into your home, ensures that it naturally contributes to creating an atmosphere which is harder for many common viruses, like the cold or flu, to survive in. Another side effect of the increased humidity is that any other indoor plants in the same room will benefit, solidifying this option as an essential plant to keep around.
A low-maintenance option, this species likes to be kept in indirect light and be given a proper chance to dry out between each drink, but it’s also forgiving to the odd over/under watering event and will tolerate sub-optimal light. A plant that produces mini-spider plants from the mother stem, it will perfectly suit a hanging basket or being left to tumble over the side of a shelf (be sure to send us photos of yours when it does – #plantshelfie). These mini ‘spiders’ can even be cut at the stem, and re-planted so that you can have a toxin removing, disease blocking Spider plant in every room!
Chlorophytum will purify your air and help to stop you from getting sick, both of which will leave you free to produce top quality work at home, while the calming, natural arch of their leaves will keep you serene and tranquil.
5: Phalenopsis Orchid
Phalenopsis Orchid (Image courtesy of thejoyofplants.co.uk)
A popular choice for any home owner, from plant-fanatics to flower-newbies, Orchids number over 28,000 species, producing colourful blooms and fragrant smells. the most common of course is the Phalenopsis Orchid which you can now find on sale in florists, super markets and even DIY stores. We’re not going to suggest that you make Orchids part of your diet, but their healing properties have been revered in cultures globally for thousands of years. Orchid flowers play a prominent role in many Chinese herbal remedies for example.
Nevertheless, Phalenopsis orchids will purify your air and assist in reducing carbon dioxide levels, but it’s their eye-catching flowers which really make these houseplants a must-have for any productive home workspace. Their small root systems take up minimal space and it’s easy to have a few different varieties dotted about a room; providing splashes of bright inspiration at the turn of a head.
Orchid care differs slightly dependending on which variety you have, but there are some simple rules that can be applied across the board. Orchids like to be soaked rather than watered from above, so dunk the plastic nursery pot (up to soil level) in tepid water and leave to soak for up to ten minutes, then remove and stand for a further ten minutes so that excess water can drain away – the kitchen draining board is best for this. If soaking the plant is not so easy, watering in the traditional way from above will still work, just be sure to pour away any excess water that may collect at the bottom of your decorative planter.
The roots can be another way of telling whether your watering habits are benefitting your plants. Green, firm to touch roots will indicate a healthy, happy orchid. Brown, soft roots indicate root-rot, which means that your Orchid has been consistently overwatered or left to sit in water. Finally, when the roots are silver / white, your plant needs a drink – so increase your watering schedule. Your Orchids also thrive in humid conditions, so a misting will really benefit the blooms too, while the plants will love a non-drafty window with indirect sunlight. After blooming, your Orchids may need a prune, this may seem scary but there are many guides online that will shine a light on this, such as this one from Orchid Plant Care. If looked after, Orchids will add life to any room…..just try not to be too distracted by their striking good looks!