Alex, Current Issues, Herbs, How To, News, Plants

Office Plants
Dramatic Introduction

There once was a time, many moons ago, when humankind led a much simpler existence. The struggles of modern life, in comparison, seem menial to that of the Neolithic man. Survival would be an outside bet as a response if you were to ask the average British 21 year old to list their top 10 priorities at present. Yet, I can’t help thinking that this would have been a more liberated state of existence. An existence more in tune with nature with a more focused sense of priorities; no need to despair at the lack of interactions on your latest social media post, no anxiety caused by the ability of an “every 7 minute” bus service to be late by more than half an hour, no burning desire to photograph every meal ever laid before you to show people you hardly know so that they can hardly care.

So, I decided to investigate the primordial aspects of the human psyche, searching deeper and exploring the development of the mind over the millennia. Here, I studied a plethora of cognitive schemas and emotional structures crafted over millions of years of evolution and ignoring trends developed over decades of increasing mind pollution. I chose to explore one of the most primal aspects of the human consciousness: Our relationship with nature. I was interested in how it affects us consciously and subconsciously, and how we can implement this knowledge in the modern world.

After many, many minutes of research I came to the conclusion that our relationship with nature was indeed an intense and deep -rooted one. A relationship forged during the dawn of our species’ time on earth when nature ruled this planet and we were simply its newest guests. It treated us well. Like any good host it provided us with anything and everything we could ever need and asked for little in return, except respect. Unfortunately it seems this relationship has wilted over time. It turns out we might not have been the best guests. A greedy race we became, taking without gratitude and losing touch with the force that provided both the fuel and the catalyst for our meteoric expansion.

As I continued, I grew saddened by this decline in what was once such a beautiful, synergetic relationship. It seemed that in losing this link, we had become resigned to losing a part of ourselves as if it was an inevitable part of evolution towards a society that existed online, in clouds on servers as our reality became more virtual and less… natural. But then, just as I was about to close all my Chrome tabs in despair and give up on the human race, out of the corner of my eye a shining beacoOffice Plant Psychologyn of hope punctuated the cold, grey background. In this moment, my despair evaporated and I realised there was a chance yet. A single symbol reminded me that this link was not eternally forsaken, that deep down this relationship still had life. I am, of course, talking about the humble office plant.


The Research

Now the dramatic intro is complete I can get onto the science. Plants in the office may seem to many at best a nice touch, but research is emerging to support the hypothesis that they may actually be having a more profound impact than we have recognised in workplaces around the globe. The benefits provided by a shade more greenery in the office are being picked up upon by researchers as they seem align with two of the most fundamental aims of occupational psychology: Reducing stress and increasing productivity.

Occupational Psychology

As a science, occupational psychology grew rapidly over the 20th century with an increase in the gradient of that development towards the end of the century and carrying on into the start of the 21st. Companies realised the potential benefits to come from this research and ploughed millions into projects to gain those extra few percent increases in productivity. The field has evolved massively since its conception with an increasing understanding of stress and its relationship with productivity with the modern day focus shifted towards reducing stress and increasing employee well-being.

Field Studies

So, the growing body of research to suggest that plants in the workplace both reduce stress and increase productivity is music to the ears of occupational psychologists across the world. One of the most convincing studies to date was produced by the team of researchers from the UK, Australia and The Netherlands who carried out a field study comprised of three experiments in two large commercial offices in the UK and The Netherlands. They found that enriching a “lean office environment” with greenery led to an increase in productivity by 15%. Lead researcher Marlon Nieuwenhuis noted that the results of this first long term study carried out in “real life conditions” “closely align with previously conducted laboratory studies”. He continues to discuss how “at odds” these findings were to the current political and economic zeitgeist as well as with modern “lean” management techniques and office design.

There are a number of previous laboratory studies into the area as Mr Nieuwenhuis mentioned and the majority note the stress relieving, therapeutic affect that plants can have on a workforce. A similar study carried out in Washington found a 12% decrease in stress levels of computer programmers, notoriously stressed individuals, when just a few plants were added to their office. Despite this, a causal link between the two, as with so many cases in psychology, is difficult to ascertain for certain.


My Theory

There are many theories but one I tend to lean towards is a combination of the improved aesthetics of the workplace, leadiWorkplace plantsng to temporary,
interspersed, mood elevation, with the effect created by plants on the physical environment. The second half of that may be overlooked by some but research from Washington found that transpiration by plants leads to an increase in air humidity to a level matching most closely that  shown to be found most comfortable to the average person. In addition, this process improves air quality and can reduce the ambient temperature as much as three degrees generally leading to more comfortable working conditions. If the wellbeing of your employees wasn’t enough to persuade you to invest in a few plants, think of the money you can save on your utility bills!


Final Thoughts…

Finally, there is data to show that an attractive workplace can help attract and retain the best employees in today’s competitive workplace market. It follows that if you have office full of competent employees, your stress levels and productivity are likely to be lower and higher respectively. With that I end my case. I hope, at very least, I have convinced you to get up an hour or so earlier, take a slight diversion to the nearest garden centre on the way to work tomorrow morning and fill a wheelbarrow full of shrubs and perhaps small fruiting trees and make your office a better place.

AlexAlex works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly on online marketing.

As a psychology graduate it is ironic that he understands plants better than people but a benefit for the purpose of writing this blog.

An enthusiastic gardener, all he needs now is a garden and he’ll be on the path to greatness. Alex’s special talents include superior planter knowledge and the ability to put a gardening twist on any current affairs story.

See all of Alex’s posts.

Cat, Flowers, Gardening

Kalanchoe Luciae

There are over 125 species of Kalanchoes and some of them can reach an impressive height of six metres.

Joycelyn recently took some cuttings of the Kalanchoe blossfeldiana in our office and are still patiently waiting for it to sprout properly.

It will probably only reach a height of 30 cm which is nothing compared to the Kalanchoe luciae growing for Small House / Big Garden in the US!

What is the tallest flower you have grown?

wedding-meCat works in the marketing team and is responsible for online marketing, social media and the newsletter.

She spends most of her time reading about a variety of interesting facts, such as oddly named Canadian towns, obscure holidays and unusual gardening.

She mostly writes about Primrose news and current events.

See all of Cat’s posts.


Kalanchoe blossfeldiana in a potWe have a whole jungle of houseplants at the Primrose office, including several specimens of Kalanchoe blossfeldiana – a very common succulent that you might recognise by its tiny, brightly-coloured blooms (common name ‘Flaming Katy’).

You can see it looking pretty in a zinc planter on your right.

Kalanchoe cuttings in water

Our kalanchoes’ blooms have all withered away, but they’re still growing rapidly and, to be honest, the biggest of them has been getting tall and leggy.

So, a few weeks ago I gave it a trim and stuck the cut stems in a cup of water.

This is my first attempt at propagating from cuttings, but it seems to be going well. Some of the cuttings are growing tons of roots!

Once they’re long enough (an inch long or more), I will put them each in soil and keep my fingers crossed that they continue to thrive. I’ve just potted up the first two, whose roots grew much more quickly than the others.
Kalanchoe cuttings with roots
It’s really simple to make cuttings yourself – snip off a stem, remove leaves from the lower portion of stem (roots will be growing out of the leaf nodes), and put them in water by a nice sunny window. Change the water once or twice a week to prevent rot. Soon, with luck, little white roots will start appearing.
Kalanchoe cuttings potted up
Lots of plants can be grown from stem or leaf cuttings, some more readily than others. You can also buy rooting hormone to speed up the process, but these cuttings have grown just fine without it.

It seems amazing to me that you can just cut off a part of a plant, and it will grow into a new separate child – a clone of its parent.

Aren’t plants incredible?

Joy PrimroseJoycelyn is a member of the Primrose marketing team.

She is a novice windowsill gardener but hopes to graduate to larger plants one day. She enjoys British food (despite its sometimes bad reputation) and British scenery.

At Primrose, when not tending to office plants, she deals with online advertising and social media.

See all of Joycelyn’s posts.

Flowers, Gardening, How To, Paul Peacock - Mr Digwell, Planting

National Plants at Work WeekIt 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

Pink Orchid

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

Lucky BambooWe 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

Bromeliad TillandsiaThe 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

OrchidOnce 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

daffodilsIf 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.

Take a look at the Primrose office plants and 5 ways indoor gardening will improve your life.

Mr Digwell gardening cartoon logo

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.

See all of Mr Digwell’s posts.