The Idiots Guide to Keeping Your Office Plants Alive

Posted by Jason W on May 9th 2022

I’m not calling you an idiot.

This is for that other idiot; the one who doesn’t know how to take care of office plants.

That person who just can’t seem to keep those supposedly easy-to-take-care-of plants alive for very long. They follow the instructions, they even sometimes water them, and they might even talk to them with a gentle, fern-whisperer kinda tone. The plant still looks a little too crispy, though.

Those people who are well-meaning, and who want their plants to have their best lives now - but accidentally kill them instead.

Maybe this is for you?

If not, share it with that friend who really needs some help.

At any rate, let’s run through a list of basics; an idiots guide to keeping your office plants alive (this time):

Pick a purpose for your office plants

Before heading down to the local nursery or greenhouse, it’s a good idea to figure out what you’re going for.

Are you looking to add style to your office space?

Or is your idea to use plants to create separation and added privacy?

Some plants seem tailor-made to act as a sort of wall - think dense shrubbery for instance. Other plants are just there for the party, adding bright colors, intense contrasts, or stunning textures that are just fun to look at.

Get a game plan together, do a little research, and make sure to consider how the right planters could help you achieve your goal. For example, tall planters + tall plants create a visual effect that draws your eye upward.

If you like large plants, think about how much floor space is needed to make your design work. You could even get out the tape measure and work up a rough sketch of what the space would look like if you introduced some new plants to the scene.

Choose a good location

It may sound obvious, but planters contain plants.

Plants are alive.

Plants need a few basic things to live (soil, water, and sun).

Even with an awesome fiberglass planter, a plant can’t survive if it doesn’t get the right mix of these three basic ingredients, so make sure you scope out the area before expecting a miracle from your office plant. It’s also perfectly alright to consider a fake plant for areas that don’t get a lot of sun.

Another tip: Take a minute to think about how people move around the space. Are you trying to redirect traffic? Make people stop and take in the scenery? Choosing the right setting for a planter can make a big difference in how people appreciate your office area.

Select a species you can sustain

Most of the time, office plants fall into a few basic categories that are relatively easy to care for, and they’re aesthetically pleasing - think snake plants or a bird of paradise.

But maybe you want to create something unique.

It might be cool to create a jungle room filled with rare species of plants straight from the Amazon, but consider all that goes into taking care of specialized plant life. It might not be sustainable.

How could you achieve the same look and feel with heartier plants?

A good approach might be to talk with a local greenhouse or nursery and get some suggestions. Tell them what you’re going for and what the office environment is like, and they’ll probably be able to tell you right away if you’re on the right track.

Resource: Check out these 21 Best Large Indoor Plants for a few ideas.

Choose the right pot or planter

Plants can thrive or survive depending on the kind of planter they live in.

Put em in a cheap, plastic, prone-to-cracking planter, and one accidental kick from the UPS guy could leave you having to repot your plant and clean up a big mess.

It’s not good for the plant, either.

Thankfully, you don’t have to settle for bargain bin planters for your office space, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get quality planters that look great and stand up to UPS guys and FedEx guys alike. You can get strong, fiberglass planters in a variety of colors to match or contrast the colors in your office or outdoor space.

Care and feeding

The first rule of plant care is making sure there is someone in charge of watering and tending to the plants’ needs.

Find out if it’s the property manager’s job, and if not, tag Pam the Plant Lover to take on this task. Whoever it is, make sure it’s someone’s actual responsibility. In some office settings, a maintenance crew takes care of this for you. If that’s the case, you’ll always want to notify them if you add plants or make any changes so your plant crew doesn’t go neglected. Somebody’s name and reputation needs to be on the line when they start dying. It’s that serious.

Most plants really just need the basics: good soil, water, sun, and CO2. You and your fellow office dwellers are great at breathing, so you’re covered on the CO2 front.

Soil, light, and water are another issue.

Generally speaking, just following the directions on the tag that came with your plant can get you started on a path to office plant happiness (i.e. pay attention to light requirements and water it regularly).

Keep in mind that not all plants require the same amounts of resources to live. If your plant didn’t come with care and feeding instructions, no worries. As long as you know what kind of species your office plant is, you can run a quick search to discover its watering requirements and more. But what if you don’t have that info? Here are some general tips for figuring out if your plant is over or underwatered.

Pro tip: Some office planters come with options to include drainage holes or not. Check your plant’s requirements before purchasing a new planter.

Over time soil nutrients become depleted, and this can cause otherwise healthy plants to look like they’re shrinking. No need to panic. Your plants are simply using the nutrients in the soil and inevitably some soil is lost through draining.

You can add more soil to the top, or replace the soil altogether (being careful to not damage the plant’s roots).

Another option is to enlist the help of a professional. Some greenhouses, nurseries, or office maintenance services in your area may provide plant care, so reach out to see if that’s an option.

Add to the collection or repot when needed (or wanted)

If you have existing plants that have outgrown their planters, or you’re looking to change the style or layout of your office space, consider repotting. Run through the list of suggestions above before repotting to make sure your plan is good for you, your office, and your plants.

If you’re looking to add to your collection, it’s a good time to think about getting more creative with planter selections or adding some new plants that contrast or complement the existing layout. Experiment with height, shape, and size to find the right mix.

When you’re ready to get started on your office plant adventure, make sure to check out the selection at Pots, Planters & More. You’re sure to find some stylish and functional planter options that are perfect for taking care of your plant - even if the person taking care of it is an idiot.

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