Friday, 12 June 2009

They asked me to plant the office!

They asked my advice and I gave it.  They then gave me the credit card!

I was asked to give a ball park estimate as to how much it would cost to provide plants for our office. Instantly I was suspicious.  What's going on?  Who's taken our managers and replaced them with Gardener's World presenters in disguise?  So I made a guesstimate and to my surprise it was accepted! I was then given the credit card and asked to get on with it.  

Although I'm not exactly passionate about houseplants I was rather excited about the prospect of bringing plant-life into our new sterile office.  It needed some life and apart from a few of my plants the office looked like a sea of magnolia paint splattered with magenta upholstery and reconstituted wood.  As soon as they were in the space suddenly felt better and looked a lot more welcoming.

In total I bought 12 plants:

1 x Spathyphillum
1 x Dracaena massangeana
1 x Yucca elephantipes
1 x Chrysalidocarpus lutescens
1 x Dracaena marginata
1 x Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii'
4 x Crassula ovata
2 x small Dracaena marginata

I chose the plants as they are all pretty tolerant of our office conditions.  Relatively warm with hostile inhabitants, I'm sure they're reading this!, and I thought it would be good to have some drought tolerance as we all know office plants are fairly neglected.

The first comment I had, however, was in reference to the above meeting room: "I'm unsure about the hedge on the table"!  Well, I guess you can't win all the time?!


  1. I absolutely LOVE the "hedge" on the table. It's very striking. Good for you for getting a credit card out of your boss. ;-)

  2. I think it looks fabulous. Lovely job. Did you see the TED video about how plants make offices much healthier places? Great job!

  3. Did you get a raise or a promotion? I'm loving your blog from across the pond. You live in one of my favorite places. Wales.

  4. Well done you! The only sad thing about office plants is when the Planty Person moves on and they're left to the dubious mercies of whoever else there is to take care of them...

  5. Just about everything you picked up looks like it will do fine. I especially like the Dracaena that has the yellowish-green mid-stripe. I'm not so sure about the Chrysalidocarpus lutescens. They tend to not do well in the dry air of most homes and offices. Best of luck. Nice to see some chlorophyl around the shop.

  6. Well Ryan, at least for part of a day you got to do something you enjoy!

  7. Thanks for all the comments!

    Kerry: I don't think I saw the TED video but I have read on the subject and it is definitely true. It is also comforting and calming to have plants around in any environment really.

    Jim: No raise or promotion I'm afraid. Although, if any employers are reading one would be very much appreciated! Wales is a great place!

    Mr Goodnick: I was worried about the Chrysalidocarpus lutescens. It's one of those plants commonly offered but rarely grown well. We don't have air conditioning in our office where I have positioned it so I'm hoping it will be okay.

    Any hints and tips you have let me know!


  8. Er, you're not planning on leaving the Yucca in a dark corner like in the picture, are you? Or the Crassula on the center of a table, far away from sunlight? 'Cause that would be wrong.

    I do have profiles written for some of the ones you bought:

    Yucca elephantipes
    Spathiphyllum spp.
    Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana' (more or less the same for D. marginata, though marginata like a bit more light)
    Sansevieria trifasciata

    The profile doesn't say it yet, but: don't water the Sansevieria during the winter. Even if it looks like it really, really wants water, even if it begs and gives you puppy-dog eyes and the whole thing. They are liars, and suicidal, and cannot be trusted to know when they need water. The rest of the year is fine, just don't water in the winter unless they're visibly wrinkled, and even then, don't give them much.

    Also Dracaena marginata are easily rotted out if overwatered, so always err on the side of dry, if you're uncertain about whether or not to water. (That actually probably applies to all the plants you picked, actually. Maybe not the Chrysalidocarpus. I don't have much direct experience with them.)

    Something to keep in mind, that I hear from interiorscapers fairly often: people will try to be "helpful" and water without telling you, a lot, unless you make it really clear that you will savagely beat people who do this. As most of the plants you have chosen handle drought better than excessive moisture, you will want to make it crystal clear to everybody else that they are not to water the plants without checking with you, not to pour the dregs of drinks into the plants, etc., unless they wish to trigger disproportionately harsh and irreversible penalties.

  9. Nice post Ryan! Definitely agree about overwatering though - don't let others water the plants. Many tropical or shade loving plants can be harmed with overwatering.


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