Biophilia & other Reasons to Have Plants in the Workplace

 

If you’ve been reading about the buzzword Biophilia but have yet to understand what the buzz is about, then we’ve made a helpful infographic for you, designed to show you the amazing relationships that can occur between workers and plants in the modern office.

Plants truly are amazing. If you’re looking to improve your office space with some smart greenery, why not enhance your office with our office plants for hire service. Impress your workers and guests with an outstanding boardroom, ensure that they remember you as an innovative and forward-thinking company by transforming your spaces into greener, healthier, places to enjoy working in.

And if you’re interested in reading more about the joys of biophilia and the many benefits of plants, we have plenty of blogs to keep you up-to-date on the latest hints, tips and news:

   Biophilia – What is It and Why is it Important

   Indoor Air Quality: Facts & How to Improve

   The Best Plants for Your Office Environment

   Biophilic Design in the Workplace

The Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Workplace

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Anyone with a keen eye for design will have spotted the rise of the ‘Biophilia’ design trend. Plants; they are everywhere at the moment.

Planters of succulents, shelves of spider plants and ferns, indoor hanging plants in every room, even printed wallpaper with banana leaf or palm leaf patterns. However, there is much more to this trend than just aesthetics.

The Rise of Biophilia

The whole concept of Biophilia (The love of nature and living things) connects us to the wider world and our innate desire to protect and nurture that which feeds us and does us good, both physically and also emotionally.

One of the ‘founding fathers’ of the psychology behind biophilia was Edward O Wilson. He coined the term Biophilia and wrote the book of the same name, first published in 1984 and still widely available if you want a more in-depth read on the topic.

A synopsis of the subject and some of the research that has come out of it can be found here:  Biophilia white paper.  Another great source of information and brilliant blogs is the Human Spaces blog, and you can subscribe for free. In addition, a recent blog post from Planteria Group looked at The Three Pillars of Biophilic Design.

 

The Benefits of Biophilia

There are many benefits to having plant displays and other biophilic elements in your work or home interior. Biophilic elements refer to anything that evokes the sense of the beauty of the natural world, such as water features, fish tanks or plants.

You can also add natural analogues which are patterns and design styles that mimic nature – think honeycomb patterns, furnishings with curved edges even artificial planting or wood-effect flooring. It’s not so much about the what, it’s more about how the inclusion of biophilic elements make people feel.

 

Here are 5 benefits of Biophilic Design in the Workplace:

1. Live plants improve air-quality.

They do this by using carbon dioxide (bad for us) to produce oxygen (good for us). They also transpire through their leaves, making the air more humid, which is excellent for combating the problem of dry-air, a widely reported problem in air-conditioned offices.

Additionally, plants absorb VOCs (volatile organic compounds) such as chemicals that are widely used in domestic cleaning products, contained within some carpets and emitted from electronics. More about improving air-quality here.

 

   2. Make you more creative and (as much as 15% more) productive.

A series of studies from Exeter University concluded that employees were 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces were filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are more efficient and more creative workers.

 

3. Helps relieve stress and improve mental well-being.

Stress is a known cause of both mental health disorders and cardiovascular diseases. According to the World Health Organisation mental health and cardiovascular diseases are expected to the be the two prime contributing factors to illnesses worldwide by 2020.

Studies also show that our ability to directly access nature can alleviate feelings of stress. The millions of neural channels in our brain link to the human body’s nervous system. This system is comprised of two networks: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system stimulates the human body when cognitive function is needed. The parasympathetic system serves to relax the body and is used for internal processes such as digestion. When the body’s natural balance of sympathetic and parasympathetic is achieved, the body is in the ideal state of homeostasis.

But in chaotic and stressful environments, like a busy office, the body’s sympathetic system is highly engaged in a “fight-or-flight” mindset. Concurrently, the parasympathetic system is suppressed, disrupting our natural balance and resulting in energy drain and mental fatigue. This combination induces stress, frustration, irritability and distraction. In contrast, human interaction with nature provides an increase in sympathetic activity. This results in decreased stress and irritability and the increased ability to concentrate.

In Japan Shirin-Yoku (Forest Bathing), the practice of mindfully spending time in the forest, using all of your senses to appreciate nature, has been proven to combat stress, enhance mental wellness and bolster brain health.

 

4. Feel happier and healthier.

Not surprisingly, biophilic elements make us feel in a more positive frame of mind.  Positive people have a positive impact on others, take better care of themselves and are healthier. Another point to consider here is that they are less likely to be off work sick, so if you are still on the fence about adding biophilic elements to your workspace, consider the impact it could have on reducing absenteeism in your office.

 

5. Attract and Retain the best talent.

 Having a thoughtfully designed, attractive workspace, full of natural light and biophilic elements, shows who you are as an organisation.  It also sends a powerful message about your social conscience and green-credibility and that you care about your colleagues.  We spend a large amount of time at work, and whilst we are there, we want it to be a positive experience.

Want to add some biophilic elements to your workspace, retail space or venue? Contact us today.

The Three Pillars of Biophilic Design

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Biophilia is a current buzzword in the world of well-being and workplace design. Planteria Group have written a White Paper on the subject, and there are lots of excellent in-depth pieces of work backed by research if you want to discover all aspects of this fascinating topic.

This blog article serves a bite sized look at one of the aspects of Biophilia…. the different types of Biophilic Models that exist.

There are three pillar concepts to biophilia based design.

 

1. Nature in The Space

This refers to adding natural elements into the built environment. This is perhaps the easiest and cheapest way to introduce Biophilia to the workplace or living space and gives people instant access to all the feelgood associations of biophilia. Think potted plants and animals – for example fish tanks, office dogs and pets. Views to nature from the inside of the building, natural light, and direct access to nature like courtyards, gardens and roof terraces planted with greenery, also fall into this category. These direct connections to nature have the strongest impact on us as humans.

 

2. Natural Analogues

This concept refers to man-made elements that mimic nature. Artificial plants, preserved moss walls, representational artwork, patterns and architecture that evoke nature are all examples of natural analogues. Furniture with organic rather than geometric shapes. Woodgrain and building materials mimicking shells and leaves used in interior of exterior decoration are all excellent illustrations of the use of natural analogues.

Many benefits can be reaped from including natural analogues into a space, including reduced stress levels increased feelings of well-being and improved levels of productivity.

 

3. Nature of the Space

This concept refers to the physiological way in which space planning and architectural design affect our human responses and feelings. As a species we have evolved over millennia and our success is partially due to our ability to connect with nature. We are intuitively drawn to environments that will serve us and allow us to thrive or, entice us to explore. For this reason we find a Savannah landscape, with broad vistas of rolling pastures and a source of water such as lakes or a view of the sea to be the most attractive view.

We also find views involving mystery or even risk and peril as exciting, this explains our love of skyscrapers, and multilevel views such as mezzanines, atriums and spiral staircase as intriguing. Architects have capitalised on our innate affinity for these types of environments in their building designs.

Gaining more knowledge and insight into this subject is helping decision makers in the world of workplace management, design and build for happier and healthier businesses of the future.

 

Sources and Suggested Reading:

The Economics of Biophilia – Why Designing with Nature in Mind Makes Financial Sense. 2012 Terrapin Bright Green LLC

https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/the-economics-of-biophilia/

Biophilia (1984) New Ed by EO Wilson (ISBN: 9780674074422)

Human Spaces: http://humanspaces.com/

Planteria Group Biophilia white paper:

https://www.planteriagroup.com/blog/biophilia-white-paper-/29

Kellert et al., 2008

Biederman & Vessel, 2006

https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/

Edward O Wilson – “Biophilia”

Innovation Design Trends for 2019

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So you’re thinking of a new look for the new year, one that will inspire your staff and attract new customers without turning away your old ones, we’re here to give you a heads up on what we suspect the next year’s design trends will entail, including those that will translate well to your offices.

 

ROSE GOLD – NO

As beautiful as this colour has been, it’s suspected that rose gold-everything will be on its way out in 2019. Metallic fixtures and fittings are becoming less popular as more eco-friendly aesthestics – such as biophilia – are taking hold of homes and businesses alike.

 

CLINICAL KITCHENS – NO

Clinical-looking kitchens are also on their way out. Instead of bright whites and light greys, consider using more natural looking materials such as dark wood table tops and warm stone counters. Going down natural routes will create a homely look that will help your staff to settle in and relax.

 

LIGHT WOOD FLOORS – YES

Following on from the natural themes mentioned above, light wood floors are also back in. Unlike the dark colours attributed to heavy stone tiles, light wood flooring is a refreshing change that harks back to nature and evokes a clean woodland feel.

 

SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS -YES

Accentuate your rooms with some eco-friendly focal points. A few handmade pieces will add intrigue to your rooms, as well as individuality, whereas the sustainability element will help people to feel in touch with the earth and more natural elements.

 

BIOPHILIA – YES

Continuing along the natural themes that 2019 is promoting; incorporating aspects of biophilia is one more way that you can get your home or business looking up-to-date and on-trend for the new year. Biophilia is the embodiment of our human affinity with nature. You can satisfy this natural urge by veering away from the past decade’s trends for clinical and pristine finishes by including more natural elements (think plants, water features and natural materials, textures and colour paletes) to create an earthy vibe.

It’s true that biophilia was a popular trend in 2018, but experts say that we shouldn’t be expecting it to leave anytime soon. If you’re not in on the biophilia trends yet, why not look into our indoor office plants  so you can update your look.

 

HANGING PLANTING – YES

One way that you can incorporate more natural elements in your office, without taking up too much space, is through the use of hanging planting. Scindapsis, colloquially called Devil’s Ivy, is frequently used in hanging planting as it flows down from the planters and looks modern and chic.

 

AUDACIOUS WALLS – YES

Plain and boring walls are out, especially in offices and working establishments. Instead, bring out some funky 3D wall-scaping, or settle for the somewhat easier geometric patterns. Geometric shapes can inject individuality into a room, or – if used sparingly – can break up the monotony of large offices and indicate where departments begin and end. You can also add wall planting, living pictures or moss walls for something stunning.

 

COMFY FITTINGS – YES

Much like the rejection of sharp, pristine colour schemes, we’re also getting rid of sharp edges. Bring in some deep pile rugs and encourage your workers to take their shoes off. By keeping them relaxed, you will promote your employees to be less distracted by their surroundings and more able to get stuck into their work in the office.

It’s not just about deep pile rugs, either; you can spread comfy ideals across your office by bringing in some new office chairs and interspersing a couple of cushions here and there.

 

MIX IT UP – YES

The overwhelming consensus of interior designers who are looking towards the new year is the importance of mixing up your styles. Take a bit of inspiration from here and combine it with some from there. Hybrid rooms are well and truly IN. Imagine a room that combines elements of smart techno with space-saving planting features. Wow!

If you’re looking for a truly stunning start to your year, speak to Planteria for some ideas. We can offer you free quote on many of our features, including our office moss walls –perfect for the business of 2019.

The Greening of London (with the help of BID’s)

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A Business Improvement District (BID) is a not-for-profit collective of local businesses who have come together to help improve their immediate area. There are currently 47 BIDs in London, each of whom create, develop and fund projects that benefit local business and the community.

In 2008 ‘The London Plan’ the Mayor’s spatial development plan for London, introduced a new concept, ‘Green Infrastructure’ or GI including; green walls, living walls, roof gardens, rain gardens and ‘parklets’.

Increasing green infrastructure brings with it may benefits; Cooling the built environment and reducing energy consumption, improving air quality, improving health for residents, increasing wellbeing, enhancing biodiversity and creating attractive places where people want to be.

In 2015 Boris Johnson launched a new and more specific initiative called the “Wild West End” designed to link up Regent’s Park and St James’s Park with green ‘stepping stones’ to encourage more birds, bats and insects to the built-up busy streets. This initiative was handed over to the local BIDs. A variety of installations have since been put in place including green roofs, planters, beehives and bird and bat boxes to provide a permanent habitat for London’s wildlife. Adding wildflowers including oxeye daisy, birdsfoot trefoil, and field scabious attract butterflies and bees and create more natural habitats to provide foraging opportunities for robins, goldfinch and other species.

The London Wildlife Trust said it was a “fabulous step” towards attracting nature to the heart of the capital, and demonstrating “how wildlife can flourish amidst the hustle and bustle of the city centre”.

Boris Johnson said the initiative could transform the city for thousands of residents, workers and tourists. “London’s population is at an all-time high, so while we need to build new homes and improve transport infrastructure, we also need better quality green spaces,” he said in a statement. “There is absolutely no doubt that parks and green spaces in urban areas improve people’s wellbeing and quality of life.”

The widespread public benefits of the greening of public infrastructure mean that the delivery of GI has previously been seen as the role of the public sector and the challenge has been to make the case for businesses to invest.

Evaluation of Victoria BIDs Cleaning and Greening programme suggests that businesses increasingly recognise the value of Green Infrastructure in;

Attracting Customers – guiding customers to a retail space and making locations more inviting.

Maximising Spend – increasing the amount of time a customer spends browsing.

Motivating Staff – and retaining them.

Adding Value – working with suppliers and building relationships in the locality, giving back to the wider community.

Looking to the future, the ‘London Green Infrastructure Plan 2050’ projects ahead to our needs for the coming decades, it calculates that the capital will need the equivalent of 13,000 football pitches of new green cover by the middle of this century. These findings prove that green infrastructure projects are much more than nice-to-have and certainly not an afterthought. Green infrastructure is about conservation as much as it is about aesthetics. The future of land and property management will be more proactive and less reactive and better integrated with efforts to manage growth and development.

FM Manager or Eco Warrior? We can help you with a ‘GI’ project; Green roof, green / living wall, eco-friendly planting, roof gardens and more. Contact us today.

Plants In The Office Make You 15% More Productive

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Every business is looking for the ‘slight edge’ to give them competitive advantage. But how about if I told you that you could become 15 % more productive by doing one small, low cost thing?

What if I also told you that doing the same thing would make your employees happier and more creative too? Would you put it into action immediately?

It’s true, and it’s backed up by plenty of research and science.

Dr Chris Knight from Exeter University and his fellow psychologists, who have been studying the issue for 10 years, concluded that employees were 15% more productive when “lean” workplaces were filled with just a few houseplants, as employees who actively engage with their surroundings are better workers.

The study says that offices devoid of natural elements and distractions are “the most toxic space” you can put a human into, and reports that workers perform better when household plants are added to workplaces.

Collaborating with academics from four universities in Australia, the UK and the Netherlands, Knight said he had wondered for years why the fashion for spartan offices has been so dominant in the business world. “If you put an ant into a ‘lean’ jam jar, or a gorilla in a zoo into a ‘lean’ cage – they’re miserable beasties,” he said. People in “lean” offices are no different, he added.

Essentially planting in the workplace makes you more productive because it connects you back to nature, this innate desire, which is hardwired into our DNA is called Biophilia. If you take a human out of ‘nature’ and put them in a clinical, space devoid of natural elements and colour and you will increase stress and anxiety levels.

Researchers extensively studied workplaces over an 18 month period, including a call centre in the Netherlands and a large City auditor in London to see how even a small number of plants could rapidly improve performance.

The City auditors, which Knight declined to name, had spent “a lot of money” on their office, he said. “They had very expensive desks … banners that were just to do with the company … it was a beautifully sparse environment.”

Yet when plants were brought into the offices (one plant per square metre), employee performance on memory retention and other basic tests improved substantially.

“What was important was that everybody could see a plant from their desk. If you are working in an environment where there’s something to get you psychologically engaged you are happier and you work better,” Knight said.

He hopes the project, the first of its kind carried out in functioning offices, will bury the lean office practice for which he said there was no scientific support.

Prof Alex Haslam, from the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, who co-authored the study, added: “The ‘lean’ philosophy has been influential across a wide range of organisational domains. Our research questions this widespread conviction that less is more. Sometimes less is just less.

Research source:

http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2014-30837-001/

Terrariums Add Style

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Terrariums are making a stylish statement in luxury hotels, restaurants and in the receptions and board rooms of blue-chip companies thanks to our help. These exceptional planters offer a wonderfully unique and interesting way to display a variety of plants such as succulents, air plants, moss & more.

Terrariums enjoyed popularity in the 1970’s and they’re making a comeback on a massive scale. We’re glad because we think they look great and we love making them too.

As more people discover the benefits of planted terrariums we’ve noticed an increase in our requests to supply them to hotels, facilities management companies, offices & beyond. They’re on trend, easy to maintain and make a big impact to impress clients, employees and visitors at your place of business. They’re also a real conversation-starter to get people speaking and engaging with your brand.

If you’re unsure what a terrarium is, it is defined in the dictionary as: a glass container, chiefly or wholly enclosed, for growing and displaying plants. Terrariums are usually closed or partially closed glass containers such as fishbowls, jars or vases containing soil, stones and a variety of plants. Due to the popularity of terrariums they now come in all shapes & sizes, allowing you to choose the style and plants appropriate for your space.

Why choose a Terrarium?

  • Low maintenance
  • Saves space, good on top of surfaces to avoid clutter
  • Great in receptions, communal spaces & meeting areas
  • Add greenery to your workplace in a unique & stylish way
  • Modern alternative to fresh flowers
  • Terrariums make a statement and they are very unique & out-of-the-ordinary

4 Benefits of Terrariums

  1. These unique little planters create a peaceful atmosphere and can help reduce stress & anxiety by adding biophilic elements in the workplace (learn more about Biophilia & why it’s important)
  2. Increase productivity, creativity and happiness
  3. Employees are 15% more productive  when workplaces are filled with just a few houseplants
  4. Make spaces more welcoming and inviting for employees, visitors and clients.

Interested in how we can offer similar improvements for you?  Contact Us Today or Request a Free Online Quote.

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Moss Walls: Q & A

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Greenery is much sought-after in today’s workplaces and within the hospitality industry, not only because it enhances a space visually, but it also has positive effects on health & wellbeing.

There are numerous studies about boosting mental wellbeing, increasing productivity & creativity and for those in the Hospitality industry a new report indicates that having more greenery in reception areas can increase the amount of time spent in these areas, translating to more revenue generated for your business (Human Spaces Biophilic Design In Hospitality report).

There are several benefits to choosing a moss wall in your workspace, including the fact that they are completely maintenance-free.  Working within facilities management, business & hospitality sectors, we can offer bespoke moss walls with your company logo or corporate colours and we can help you achieve the look you’re after, even in the smallest of spaces.

Moss Walls are in high-demand, and we’ve asked our resident moss wall experts some questions to help explain what they are, how to look after them and more.

 

Q:   What is the difference between a moss wall and a living wall?

A:   Living Walls are made up from live plants planted in modular compartments and require regular maintenance, with an irrigation system is built into the wall. Moss Walls are made from moss that has been preserved, so it won’t grow anymore, and it won’t decompose.

 

Q: How is the moss preserved?

A: This is like asking a chef for a recipe!  The moss is usually preserved with glycerine.  The moss is then washed though using food grade type colourants, so not to be harmful in anyway, and to ensure the colour stays vibrant.

 

Q:   Do moss walls require water & light?

A:   No, Moss Walls can go anywhere internally and no water or light is required.  This is one of the benefits of choosing a moss wall.

 

Q: What level of maintenance is required for a moss wall?

A: No maintenance at all is required for Moss Walls other than a spot of dusting every now and then. (we recommend a feather duster)

 

Q:  How long does a moss wall last?

A:  Moss walls are long lasting installations and will need the least care and repair if they are in lower traffic areas where they won’t get touched or bumped into.

 

Q:    What are my choices for a moss wall? Are there different types and colours of moss?  

A:  The moss we use is available in 16 different colours, and we can create client logos or other patterns in the walls if desired (as seen in the photo above).

 

Q: Where can it be installed, is it suited to some environments more than others?

A: Moss can be installed in any interior location, for aesthetic enhancement and/or for sound absorption.  They are not recommended for exterior use

 

Q:   What are the benefits of a moss wall?  

A: Moss walls can help with noise reduction, they require minimal maintenance, they add greenery and a biophilic design element, help increase productivity & creativity, adds a feel-good factor to those in the space, promotes calmness and wellness and much more.

 

Do you have other questions not listed here?  If so, let us know so that we can answer them for you.

Request your FREE quote for a moss wall today: https://www.planteriagroup.com/free-quote/

5 Things You Should Never Do to Your Office Plants

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Office plants can be great for reducing office stress, promoting productivity and creating a welcoming working environment. But plants require a certain level of care to ensure they stay healthy and thrive. Here we look at 5 things you should never do if you want to keep your office plants alive:

1. Give Them too Much Water

It’s possible to kill a plant with kindness. Too much water for your office plant can be just as bad as forgetting to water it at all. Different plants require different water levels, and you’ll know if your plant is getting too much water, because its leaves will look limp, turn yellow and fall off.

One problem with overwatering comes from placing plants on dishes allowing them to sit in a puddle after being watered, leading to potential root rot. The best method for watering a plant is to give it a good drench over a sink and then let the excess water drain away. Alternatively, you can place the plant on a dish but pour the excess water away after about ten minutes.

2. Let Them Finish Your Drink

One of the worst things you could do for your office is to ‘feed’ the plant the dregs from your cup of coffee or tea. Not only does this contribute to overwatering them, but this could cause the plant to attract sciarid flies. Similar to fruit flies, these bothersome things germinate quickly and will annoy everyone in the office.

When watering your office plant, just use water, and make sure no one in the office is using it as a make-shift sink for their beverage waste.

 

3. Keep Them in Suboptimal Conditions

Plants can feel the rise and drop in temperature just like you do and kept in the wrong conditions the plant will be unable to thrive. However, given that most indoor plants are native to tropical temperatures where conditions are warmer than what most of our gardens will experience, the temperature within your office should be a good match to help them grow.

But you should be aware of the optimal temperature range for your species of plant. Some potential problems can arise, such as keeping plants on a windowsill – whilst great for light and warmth, cold draughts in the winter can cause problems – or any sudden drops in temperature or prolonged periods of cold. Keep your plant in a good spot, where they have enough light, ideally daylight, and away from fluctuating heat. Keep an eye out for signs the temperature might be incorrect, such as flowers dying, and yellowing, wilting and falling leaves.

4. Let Them Overgrow

There are several reasons to prune your office plants. You might need to trim away dead leaves or branches to keep the plant presentable. You might prune to encourage a more balanced growth habit, or you might prune to keep a runaway plant from taking over the office. Whatever the reason, you should take steps when pruning to encourage healthy growth. Pruning encourages healthy growth and should be done periodically when needed. You should be able to find out information about your plant species, regarding how and when to prune.

5. House Them Incorrectly

Plants have an ideal home in mind, just like us. Housed in the wrong place, plant growth can be stunted by a lack of light, or their leaves can become bleached from too much light. Be sure to research your office plant species to determine the levels of light needed. Consider having a light metre for the office to determine how much light you get in various places and house your office plants accordingly.

Of course, the easiest thing to do is to leave it to the experts! Here at Planteria we have over 40 years of experience of finding the perfect office plants for every type of office or corporate environment. We provide a full plant design, rental and maintenance service ensuring that your plants are healthy and well cared for all year round.

If you have any questions or would like to talk to us about our office plant service or corporate flower displays at Planteria Group, do not hesitate to contact us today – we will be happy to help.

Top Ways You Can Create Stunning Succulent Displays

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Succulent plants are currently riding the crest of the trend wave, appearing in homes and gardens across the country.

Here we take a look at why they are so fashionable, how to care for succulents and how you can create stunning, on-trend displays for inside or outside your home.

How to Care for Succulents

As with all plants, the line of best practice is to replicate as far as possible their natural growing conditions. Think of the mantra, ‘right plant, right place’.

Originating from hot, arid climes, succulents are actually very low maintenance; they just need light, warmth and minimal water in order to thrive so if you’re not particularly green-fingered, succulents are the perfect choice.

If you consider that succulents are often found in desert regions, it makes sense that they don’t like to be kept for a prolonged period in saturated ground as these aren’t the conditions they would naturally experience.

Our top tip therefore is to use a general-purpose compost mixed with at least one-third horticultural grit; the open nature of the compost allows root development while the grit enables any excess water to drain away easily.

Keep your succulents happy by giving them a good drink once a week during the summer months and then allow the compost to dry out completely before the next watering, which will replicate a period of drought.

Another top tip is to use rainwater if possible – and this applies to all plants, not just succulents – as the minerals in tap water can cause a build-up in the soil and therefore reduce its quality in addition to staining the beautiful foliage.

 

How to Create Stunning Succulent Displays

The overwhelming majority of succulents prefer to be a sunny spot, which makes them such versatile options. The only note of caution is that, particularly in the more northern areas of the UK, most succulents aren’t winter hardy. This means they don’t like frost and will benefit from protection, either by moving them to a more sheltered position such as against a wall or bringing them inside.

During the winter, many succulents prefer to have no water at all as this enables them to enter a period of dormancy. This form of hibernation helps replenish energy for flowers for the following season, so you really do have to be cruel to be kind when it comes to succulents!

Apart from the bigger, ‘statement’ specimens, succulents are mostly compact and slow-growing which means they can be accommodated almost anywhere.

Practically any vessel can be used to plant up succulents – as long as it can safely be modified by creating a drainage hole to allow water to escape – with old teapots, wellington boots or even old bird cages being great examples of the current ‘repurposing’ trend.

A group of planted-up succulents together, particularly with a theme, makes a for an interesting focal point display that looks great.

You can put an individual, quirky twist into your home or garden – a great excuse not to throw that old biscuit tin away!

Continuing the theme of ‘bringing the outside in’, a terrarium planted up with succulents is perfect to create a contemporary, minimalist interior.

By dressing it with decorative stones, you can add a touch of modern elegance to your home which has the added bonus of protecting succulent leaves from splashback when watering and so avoiding staining the beautiful foliage.

A popular favourite at the moment is to create a miniature ‘fairy garden’ with the small stature of succulents being ideal to replicate a tiny world and additional accessories, such as fairy doors or pathways, are widely available to add that finishing touch.

Another current gardening trend is to utilise the vertical axis within our space. Succulents offer the perfect opportunity to do this either by creating a living roof – in which a shallow planter is fixed to the top of a structure such as a shed, for example – or by a ‘green wall’ where plants are potted up together, usually in a pre-made wall hanger. This is an especially effective trick if you only have a small outdoor area.

The succulent family is wide-ranging with thousands of varieties available so here we provide a list of our favourites to help you choose the right ones for you.

 

Statement Succulents for the Garden

The Zwartkop (aeonium arboretum) is a plant that likes to be noticed. Also known as ‘the black rose’, the dark burgundy leaves are a perfect rosette shape which can reach up to 20 inches high.
An added bonus is that during the winter, this plant produces stunning yellow flowers to provide interest all year round.

Aloe Vera, or Medicinal Aloe can be grown in a planter in the garden in summer months but is best brought inside in the winter. You probably know the many benefits of this fleshy succulent, so why not grow your own to use on  sunburned or irritated skin,, but it’s also thought to relieve constipation and even treat cancer when ingested (though these last two claims have not been scientifically proven).

Smaller Succulents for a Terrarium Display

Hens and Chicks (sempervivum tectorum) is also known as the ‘house leek’ and originates in the mountainous regions of Southern Europe. It is one of the more commonly-known succulents and is recognisable by its small clusters of rosette leaves.

The mother (hen) cluster produces reddish-purple flowers and is mat-forming if left to grow so is ideal for a living roof or great for keeping in a controlled environment such as a terrarium or other planter

The Jade Plant (crassula ovata) is a very popular succulent house plant, and it is also known as the friendship tree, lucky plant, money plant or moneytree. Much of its popularity stems from the low level of care needed; the jade plant requires little water and can survive in most indoor conditions. It is commonly used in the art of Feng Shui and believed to bring luck and wealth to the grower.

Once established as a mature plant, it forms a miniature tree-like structure, with a thick trunk and branches. Leaves are thick, fleshy and opal shaped in a deep, glossy jade green.We here at Planteria Group hope that this guide has provided you with some advice on how to care for succulents and of course some inspiration to create stunning succulent displays of your own.

Our specialism is providing plants and flowers for our Corporate clients, so if you are looking to add terrariums, succulents or plants to your office, hotel or restaurant and if you have any questions or would like to talk to one of our team about our products and services, please take a look at our website or get in touch.

Indoor Air Quality: Facts & How To Improve

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Breathing. It’s the single most important thing that every human being must do to maintain life. On average, we take in the region of 23,000 breaths per day, so it goes without saying that the quality of the air we breathe is incredibly important.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is defined as the degree to which the air in a particular place is pollution-free. Most of us think of pollution as something that occurs outdoors and beyond our control, but it is arguably even more important to be aware of pollution that could be occurring indoors. This is especially significant given the fact that many of us spend the majority of our time inside at work or home.

According to DEFRA, air pollution can cause both short and long term effects on our health. This mainly affects the respiratory and inflammatory systems, but can also lead to more serious conditions such as heart disease and cancer. People with lung or heart conditions may be more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. Pollution affects our wellbeing on many levels – physically, mentally and emotionally.

Poor air quality is related to  Sick Building Syndrome, decreased productivity and other symptoms such as poor concentration and fatigue. According to the NHS, Sick Building Syndrome is defined as:

‘A range of symptoms thought to be linked to spending time in a certain building, most often a workplace, but no specific cause can be found’.

Some common causes of poor air quality are inadequate ventilation, airborne particles (also known as particulate matter, or PM) such as dust or fungal spores, exposure to computers and wireless devices, poor lighting and even ozone produced by photocopiers and printers.

Indoor Air Quality Facts:

  • We spend around 90% of our time indoors, making the quality of indoor air one of the single most important areas of responsibility for business owners.
  • In Europe alone, exposure to particulate matter (PM), also known as particle pollution, decreases the life expectancy of every person by an average of almost 1 year.  This is mostly due to increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and lung cancer. (World Health Organisation – WHO).
  • Other symptoms of poor indoor air quality include: dryness and irritation to the eyes, nose, throat and skin; headaches; fatigue; shortness of breath; hypersensitivity and allergies; sinus congestion; coughing and sneezing; dizziness; nausea (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health – CCOHS)
  • A spokesperson for the European Commission, which sets our air quality targets, says the World Health Organisation is now reviewing evidence about mental health, including depression, anxiety and alzheimers.
  • Scientists at the University of Utah have found a link between short-term exposure to pollution and suicide – particularly for middle-aged men.
  • Indoor & Outdoor air pollution claims up to 40,000 deaths each year in the UK (Royal College of Physicians)
  • Indoor air pollution from biological agents in indoor air related to damp and mould increases the risk of respiratory disease by 50%. (World Health Organisation – WHO)
  • Indoor environments are 10 times more polluted than outdoor environments (IAQUK.co.uk)
  • 50% of all illnesses are caused or exacerbated by polluted indoor air (AMA – IAQUK.co.uk)
  • 73% of Facilities Managers have installed a fake thermostat to reduce complaints of indoor air quality without actually addressing the issue (IAQUK.co.uk)
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognises indoor air quality as one of the top five health hazards facing modern society
  • The UK has some of the highest rates of asthma in Europe, mostly linked to pollution (Asthma UK)
  • People who work in well-ventilated offices with below-average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide have significantly higher cognitive functioning scores in crucial areas such as responding to a crisis or developing strategy than those who work in offices with typical levels. (Environmental Health Perspectives: ehponline.org)
  • According to an Australian study, improving IAQ reduces sick leave rate by 39% and costs by 44% (Green Building Council Australia)

With evidence building that this problem is increasing in cities globally, and the far-reaching implications for health and wellbeing, it is more important than ever to take action.  This is the very reason facilities management companies, hospitality specialists & cleaning companies, along with general businesses are looking for effective solutions to this issue.   After all, a business is only as strong as the people within it and this is one of the easiest ways to ensure improved health and wellbeing for everyone involved.  An investment in air quality is an investment in your company.

5 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality:

  1. Circulate fresh air through the office by regularly opening doors & windows for proper ventilation. This sounds pretty simple. And it is. Many indoor spaces have heating or air conditioning that circulates stale air. Simply opening doors or windows for 30 minutes a day can have a positive impact. However, be aware that if your office is on a busy road or if windows do not open it is important to utilise other options, such as having a variety of plants to help naturally filter the air.
  2. Add indoor plants to filter the air and remove toxins. According to research conducted by NASA, it is recommended that at least one plant per 100 square feet is all it takes for efficient air-cleaning. Companies such as Planteria offer a free quote and services to install and maintain plants and flowers for businesses, chosen specifically to improve air quality whilst also providing other benefits (see ‘5 Benefits of Indoor Planting’).  You can also learn “How to Grow Fresh Air” by using an arrangement of common indoor plants, as explained by Kamal Meattle in his TED Talks video.
  3. Avoid synthetic fragrances, air fresheners, scented candles & scented cleaning supplies. Many of today’s artificial fragrances contain powerful chemicals known as VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) which can be toxic to skin and lungs. VOCs are dangerous to human health and cause harm to the environment, especially indoors where the concentration is high and ventilation usually low. If you really want to have welcoming fresh scents indoors consider natural alternatives such as fresh flowers. Companies such as JungleWorld and Planteria specialise in providing fresh flower deliveries suited to the specific needs and budget of businesses. Another option is choosing an air diffuser with natural scents from pure essential oils.
  4. Ensure your environment is thoroughly cleaned by professionals, particularly carpets, surfaces, and furniture. Use a specialist cleaning company that uses eco-friendly cleaning products. Encourage staff to keep workspaces tidy and de-clutter regularly to minimise dust, mould and other airborne particles. Where possible choose floor surfaces that are non-absorbing and easy to clean. Carpets can be unsanitary and trap particles, mould and other contaminants. If you need to tidy your workspace yourself, dust with a damp cloth to remove particulate matter (PM) rather than just spreading it around.
  5. Control Moisture & Humidity. Dampness creates a breeding ground for dust mites, mould, mildew and other irritants. Air conditioners, de-humidifiers and air filters can help keep your workplace at a healthy humidity level, which is between 30-50% humidity. Ensure drip pans, vents, filters and air ducts are regularly emptied and cleaned to proactively improve air quality. Note that although air conditioning can help control moisture and humidity, it can also over-do this job by causing the air to be too dry. If not correctly monitored, air conditioning and heating can cause several issues indoors causing dry skin and dry eyes, among other things. Here is another area plants can help by increasing the humidity to counteract the perils of air conditioning and heating. Houseplants increase humidity in the air through a process known as transpiration. Plants absorb water through their roots, then circulate the moisture through stems and leaves with a vascular system that’s comparable to human veins and capillaries. Water reaches the leaves, evaporates into the air and increases indoor humidity. A study by NASA also showed that certain high-transpiration plants could remove up to 87 percent of indoor air pollutants within 24 hours.

f you’d like to regularly measure the quality of the air in your environment you can do so using a special tool called a VOC sensor, which measures volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of different chemicals, some of which may have adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands (EPA definition).

There are several companies out there that can measure IAQ on your behalf or you can also purchase your own VOC sensor if required. If you have a third party managing this on your behalf, be sure you understand where the sensor has come from and how to read the data captured.

Once you know the state of your building, get in touch with a business dedicated to improving office atmosphere. At Planteria, we can provide you with plenty of hints, tips and free quotes.

Download the Indoor Air Quality Rating Index from IAQUK.org.uk

Top Ten Scary Plants

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We love plants; they’re calming, they improve your décor, and they reduce C02 levels in the home and office. But there are plenty of plants that you wouldn’t want to find in your office at 9 am on a Monday morning. With Halloween fast upon us, this blog will take a look at nature’s finest arboreal warriors. Perhaps you’ll appreciate your office peace lily a little more after seeing these horrors.

10) Cuscuta – Strangle Tare

Often appearing overgrown and tangled, Strangle Tare isn’t harmful to human beings, but it is certainly scary to read about. Occupying a ghost-like role in plant life, the Strangle Tare will leech the life out of its host plant(s), detaching itself from its own roots in order to survive solely on the hard work of other vegetations. Strangle Tare thrives in hot climates, and there are only four species native to Northern Europe.

9) Utricularia – Bladderwort

Everyone has heard of venus fly traps, but did you know about Bladderwort? Bladderwort flowers, like venus fly traps, feed on whatever prey they can catch in their snapdragon-esque maws. You won’t see bladderwort on land though, Bladderwort lives in fresh water, so next time you go wild swimming, remember the carnivorous Bladderwort!

8) Dering Woods – Screaming Wood

Dering Woods sits next to Pluckley, England’s most haunted village, in Kent. Dering and Pluckley purportedly house between twelve and sixteen ghostly residents between them, alongside the 1,069 living people who reside there. However, the trees themselves don’t seem to have any bearing on how this woods came to be a hotspot for the supernatural; if anything, what’s really scary is how its ghoulish reputation has led to its destruction. Campers looking for a thrill descend on the Screaming Wood with hopes of meeting a famous ghost, leaving a trail of litter in their wake. Pluckley village has spent £6,000 on litter clearing, and a further £41,000 has been sunk into trying to protect Dering Woods from future ghost hunters. So if you go down to the woods today, you’d better go with an eco-friendly attitude, the ghosts and residents will both be grateful!

7) Armillaria Solidipes – Humongous Fungus

The colloquially named Humongous Fungus spreads itself in the American underground of Malheur National Forest. A mushroom that transcends millennia, the Humongous Fungus is considered to be somewhere between 1,900 and 8,650 years old and covers an area of 3.7 square miles. If you ever get to see these Oregon woodlands, try not to think too much about the expanse of mushroom growing secretly beneath you.

6) Actaea Pachypoda – White Baneberry, Doll’s Eyes

These creepy berries are aptly named; looking like eyeballs on flesh-red stems, these berries will watch you unceremoniously as you walk through hardwood forests in the USA or Canada. As if they weren’t already unsettling enough, these plants are highly toxic to human beings, causing cardiac arrest or death upon their ingestion.

5) Hydnellum Peckii – Bleeding Tooth Fungus

Mushrooms are already rather odd-looking plants, known for having multiple poisonous variants, but mushrooms can be somewhat charming in the context of being described as fairy houses. The Hydnellum Peckii, by contrast, isn’t going to be considered a suitable home for any fairy. Like its nickname implies, this fungi produces a gross, jammy substance from its pores.

4) Nicotiana Tabacum – Tobacco

All parts of the Tobacco plant are incredibly poisonous, especially its leaves. Even though it’s so poisonous, tobacco continues to be used worldwide, and is estimated to cause more than five million deaths per year. Tobacco might not be visually scary, but it is deadly.

3) Amorphophallus Titanum – Corpse Flower

The Corpse Flower is infamous. It is known for having the largest flower on Earth, but also for emitting the most foul aroma of rotting flesh! The Corpse Flower can reach a whopping three metres in height. The Corpse Flower’s odd aroma is an evolutionary effect which grew to attract carnivorous insects in order to achieve pollination. Even weirder, the Corpse Flower can warm itself up to further resemble dead flesh when attracting flies and dung beetles.

2) Mammillaria Elongata Cristata – Brain Cactus

Just as the name implies, the brain cactus looks freakishly similar to a human organ – the brain. Brain cacti aren’t actually dangerous to humans (aside from the prickly spikes) so you could keep them as indoor office plants if you wanted, but you should first consider the history of how the Brain Cacti develop.

Brain cacti are a type of ‘Cristata’ cacti that form into these brain-esque shapes if they are injured at a young age. Unable to grow past the painful experiences of their youth, the brain cacti grow into a twisted and convoluted shape.

1) Algae Bloom – Red Tide

‘Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.’ This old saying, was a way for shepherds to predict the next day’s weather. The Red Tide, however, is always an omen of ill portent, irrelevant of what time of day it strikes. Red Tide is toxic algae rising up from the sea floor, which can occur after a particularly bad storm. The Red Tide isn’t especially pleasing to look at, being somewhat reminiscent of the shower scene in Psycho, but what’s more horrifying is the destruction that reveals itself two weeks following: fish and marine life will begin to wash up dead on shores and beaches, having been killed by the toxic algae in their water.

These are the top ten scariest plants in the world. Insect-pollinated plants are good greenery for hay fever and asthma sufferers, but your employees would probably not be too happy if they had to share their workspace with the magnificent Corpse Flower. When looking to choose the perfect indoor office plants, consider getting in contact with Planteria instead.

If you’re looking for more material on scary plants, why not to turn to literature and film?

1) 1907, The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood

2) 1962, The Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

3) 2000, House of Leaves, by M. Z. Danielewski

4) 2008, The Happening, by M. Night Shyamalan

5) 2011, A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

6) 2015 (Uk), The Vegetarian, By Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith)

7) 2016, The Forest, by Jason Zada

 

The Best Plants for Your Office Environment

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In our office, if you want to take a break, there is no better way to re-charge your batteries and stretch your legs than with a couple of laps around our greenhouse. Filled with lush plants in every hue – from the broad glossy leaves of a Croton Petra, dappled with gold and red, to the soft fronds of bright green palms – there are so many varieties in every imaginable shape and size.

Run by Martin Collins and Robert Gilder, our greenhouse covers approximately 5,500 square feet and gives us the perfect conditions for housing our carefully managed stock.

When we visit a new client, we discuss their ideas, colour preferences and corporate branding. We then suggest the best varieties of plant to enhance their interior décor; working with the lighting conditions and heat levels of a building is paramount. Particularly sunny offices will need very different plants to dark offices, and we need to ensure both kinds will thrive. When we are happy that we’ve got it just right, we will order our plants in from specialist growers to arrive in time for installation.

Having our fantastic greenhouse means we have plenty of space and the perfect environment to plant-up our new installations, in-house rather an on-site. With this approach the Plants are already beginning to become established in their planters or containers before they are delivered to the client. It’s also safer and more stable for the plants to be transported in this manner.

Our plant technicians will continue to care for our clients’ plants, even after they have been installed; their tasks may involve cleaning, feeding, cutting-back and sometimes replacing plants. In this case, a technician will use their smart phone to alert the service team and order a new plant. The plant is then placed in the technician’s own individual bay in our greenhouse, ready for the next visit to the client.

One of the biggest benefits of our greenhouse is the variety of office plants that we’re able to keep in stock. Our wide selection of plants ensures that we can respond quickly to problems, guaranteeing that our clients always have perfect plants in their offices and receptions.

Here’s a small selection of the office plants we keep in our greenhouse:

Ficus Benjamina – commonly known as weeping fig, benjamin fig or Ficus tree
Howea Forsteriana – commonly known as Kentia palm
Dracaena Janet Craig – commonly known as dragon tree
Dracaena Marginata – commonly known as Madagascar dragon tree
Yucca – specifically perennial shrubs and trees, often confused with root vegetables by the same name
Agloenema – commonly known as Chinese evergreens
Sanseviera – Common names include mother-in-law’s tongue, devil’s tongue, jinn’s tongue, bow string hemp, snake plant and snake tongue
Guzmania – commonly known as tufted airplant
Plus a wide variety of indoor orchids

Along with our greenhouse at our Henham HQ, we also have polytunnels for storing exterior planting, such as the popular Buxus and seasonal bedding plants, plus a floristry workshop which is approximately 2000 square feet and specialist cold-stores to ensure optimal storage for fresh flowers.

So, as you can see, we’re fully equipped to store and maintain the very best plants for your office environment. If you’d like us to create some beautiful interior planting for you, give us a call to find out more about our office plant service. We love what we do and would love to help you.

Forest Bathing

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Everyone has those days, you know the ones – those days when you knock your coffee over at work, get bumped into in the street and forget to send a time-sensitive email. For that week when things are not going well and you’ve missed the bus home, you need to consider a forest bath.

Forest bathing is a rising trend, and with good reason – it could be an eco-friendly solution to the bottled-up stresses experienced by workers across the country, and it’s incredibly easy to do. In this article, we discuss the joys of forest bathing and where it comes from.

Where Did Forest Bathing Originate

As a country that prizes self-improvement practices and simplicity, Japan has a lot to teach the West about the pursuit of health and happiness and one of the best places for the uninitiated to start is with ‘shinrin-yoku’ – forest bathing. Shinrin-yoku literally translates to ‘forest bathing’, is a fun but very accurate description of this relaxing activity.

The practice of forest bathing under the label of shinrin-yoku began in Japan in 1982 as part of a public health programme, but, truthfully, humans have been practising variants of the activity unprompted for hundreds of years. The poetry from the era of British Romanticism the 19th century can attest to the benefits that nature had on the soul, but never before has this activity been undertaken by thousands as part of a knowing trend.

Some have linked the current popularity of forest bathing to recent surges in mindfulness. Shinrin-yoku is about learning to put your mental-wellbeing first and foremost, and it just so happens that nature is a free and accessible resource which can help us to achieve this.

How to Forest Bathe

Forest bathing is a simple process requiring you to take a few hours out of your day, occasionally, to go and wander in nature. It really is as easy as that. Some schools of thought will put an emphasis on leaving all your electronics at home, but it is understandable that not everyone would feel safe doing this and if you don’t feel safe you will struggle to relax. Instead, it is important to remember that you only get out what you put in, so, by all means, bring your mobile phone, but try to resist the temptation to start texting during your session.

To begin, head out towards a forest or wood and the rest is up to you. You could spend the time walking, resting or investigating plant life – acting on these desires can help to improve your self-confidence, especially after a long week of holding back frustration at work. Try to act on all of your senses, sight, smell, touch and hearing, enjoying a fully immersive experience of the forest.

Why Forest Bathing is Good for Your Health

Shinrin-yoku is very relaxing, which also means that it will reduce heart rate and blood pressure in those practising it. This can be very important for people who struggle with heart problems as the ability to unwind can be more than mentally beneficial, it could have lasting effects on predicted lifespan.

An added effect of forest bathing is that it encourages people to get out and enjoy taking physical exercise in nature. Instead of appreciating it from watching it on television. Forest bathing gets people off the sofa and out walking in the fresh air which is so important. However well ventilated your home or workplace may be, nothing can rival the positive effects of clean air on the body. This means that you should try to make wellness trips to clean air spaces like forests every now and then.

In any fitness regime, or diet, the majority of people see their best results near the beginning when they have the most weight to lose, and you can view your mental wellbeing as a similar muscle; while you may see the best effects from forest bathing if you engage only on your most stressful days, you could succeed in making long-lasting changes to your outlook if you practice shinrin-yoku regularly.

Problems in the UK

It is estimated by nhsforest.org that if Central Bedfordshire encouraged 10% of its population to exercise, by providing better access to good quality green spaces, it would save around £2.9m in healthcare costs. Currently, a lack of green space is preventing more people from enjoying the benefits of shinrin-yoku.

The NHS also reports that green spaces have huge benefits to physical, mental and social health, meaning that the public should aim to protect and improve its health by protecting its plants, woods and forests. If this isn’t convincing enough, then perhaps the statistic reported by Natural England regarding our children can convince you that we need to be putting plants in our cities;

‘more than 10% of children have not set foot in a park, forest, or other natural environment over the previous 12 months’ (2016)

This is termed by many as ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, and it is something that we need to fix. If not by making the effort to travel to green spaces, then by incorporating more greenery into our cities, offices and homes.

We can do this by improving our collective respect for plant life, and our connection of nature, by adding planting to both indoor and outdoor spaces where we can. From window boxes and trough planters to desktops and cabinet tops. This begins with individuals, especially those in prominent positions. Perhaps you have the opportunity to raise the health, output and mood of your workforce by introducing some indoor office plants to your workplace?

Further Reading:

1) Forest Bathing, by Dr Qing Li (book, 2018)

2) Prescribing Green Space, by nhsforest.org (pamphlet PDF)

3) Nature Makes You Better,by National Geographic(article, Feb 2019)

Planters, Containers and Your Office Aesthetic

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When we talk about biophilia, we are referring to how adding plants and nature to your working environment can help staff to feel happy, creative and more productive all at the same time, but did you know that changing up the container of a plant can drastically change its appearance? In this article, we consider the effects that different containers can bring to plants and how we can match them to your business’ aesthetic.

Planting Can Change How You Feel & Behave

Smart biophilic design can create a workplace which improves employee performance, health and wellbeing. For many, the aesthetic of their office may seem like a luxury that should be the last thing to be considered in current financial climates, but when it comes to biophilic design, you should be asking yourself whether your business can afford not to implement these strategies.

It’s well known that some of the biggest businesses in the world use biophilic design to maximise their output. Google, Amazon and Apple are all filled to the brim with plants, living walls and health schemes, and when you consider the statistics that plants in the office make you 15% more productive, you can understand why. Can your company afford to be losing out on that 15%?

By adding just a few desk plants to your office environment, you can positively alter the aesthetic to benefit your employees. It’s not all down to desk plants, however, as you should also try to maximise natural light, natural materials and scenic views if you’re lucky enough to have any.

If you have any further questions regarding biophilia, we recommend that you read one of our blogs on the subject:

Biophilia – What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Biophilic Design in the Workplace

Biophilia White Paper

 

How Containers Can Change Plants

Plants come in all shapes and sizes, and the containers they come in can also substantially alter their image, whether you’re looking for plants which add a bit of fun and colour, or something a little more sophisticated which exudes style in the lobby or meeting room, we have it all.

For example, a group of bespoke ‘statement’ planters, like the ones in the image at the top of this blog, in a variety of finishes and in a complimentary colour palette can provide the perfect finishing touch to a space and can tie a design scheme together perfectly. Whilst some fresh white planters with a mix of different plant specimens can add light and vibrancy to an office that might otherwise feel too corporate.

We can source almost any plant or container, so you are limited only by your imagination. We can even match containers and planters to your company’s corporate colour-scheme.

Move on to the next section for some examples of beautiful plant containers that you could enjoy from your office soon:

 

Attractive Containers Made to Inspire

Planters and containers come in all shapes and sizes. Tiny planters can be dotted around on desks and reception areas to create a homely feel, adding detail that shows you care, and allowing all your colleagues to benefit from biophilia. Small planters are perfect for succulents which are very popular at the moment and come in a wide variety, and in different shades. A selection has been used in the workspace below, with stunning effect, in this ‘industrial design’ style using a palette of black, stone and copper:

– Artistic Design Using Mixed Planting

Succulents in tiny pots office biophiliaThese plants work especially well on a smaller budget, and they show just how important quality products and design planning are when incorporating plants in your décor.

– The Perfect Partner to the ‘Industrial Design’ TrendPlant rack office biophilia

Staying with the Industrial Design trend, this image showcases the benefits of vertical storage for getting those biophilic themes into your office or social space. This plethora of planting is bright, vibrant and friendly, which is sure to motivate and brighten the day of anyone using the area. The containers for these plants are uniform which juxtaposes with the individual nature of each plant in the frame, contrasting the symmetry against the soft natural greenery.

The use of mirrors at the back of the space also maximises the amount of light in the area and gives the illusion of doubling the number of plants, further proving that quality of product and smart planning can go a very long way to creating the perfect biophilic atmosphere.

– Pots on Legs

Pots with Legs are all the rage! We love them too. These containers stand out, and you can choose from brass, wood or metal for contrast to the pot colour. Plants are elevated to a new height and given the same status as a prized piece of art. This trend brings a sense of class to the plants, giving them a modern edge that would look stylish in almost any room. There are plenty of innovative ideas, so don’t doubt that we can find something to suit your setting.

We can provide a range of planters and containers in any colour and a variety of sizes. The only thing limiting you is your imagination, and we can offer you our design assistance to help overcome any struggles with space or budget. Simply contact us for more information regarding our indoor plants.

 

Biophilia & other Reasons to Have Plants in the Workplace

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If you’ve been reading about the buzzword Biophilia but have yet to understand what the buzz is about, then we’ve made a helpful infographic for you, designed to show you the amazing relationships that can occur between workers and plants in the modern office.

Plants truly are amazing. If you’re looking to improve your office space with some smart greenery, why not enhance your office with some office plants. Impress your workers and guests with an outstanding boardroom, ensure that they remember you as an innovative and forward-thinking company by transforming your spaces into greener, healthier, places to enjoy working in.

And if you’re interested in reading more about the joys of biophilia and the many benefits of plants, we have plenty of blogs to keep you up-to-date on the latest hints, tips and news:

–          Biophilia – What is It and Why is it Important

–          Indoor Air Quality: Facts & How to Improve

–          The Best Plants for Your Office Environment

–          Biophilic Design in the Workplace

The Top 5 Plants for Your Office

Everyone who has ever worked in an office knows that plants and flowers add to the atmosphere of a workplace. The buzz of background noise can not only be distracting, but can also increase levels of stress – particularly in open-plan offices where space is at a premium. You can reduce noise problems with plants because they absorb sound, making your office quieter and calmer.

Positioning plants in strategic locations around your office will create natural sound barriers. Even if you’re not buying plants for their sound reduction benefits, their potential to improve staff productivity and well-being means that even the smallest tree could work wonders for your office. This was discovered by a research experiment at Texas A&M University, which explored the link between flowers, plants and workplace productivity during an eight-month study.

Those taking part in the study performed creative problem solving tasks in a workplace with plants and flowers, a setting with sculptures, and an environment with no additional planting or decoration at all.

Participants were found to demonstrate more innovative thinking and generate more ideas and original solutions to problems in the office that included plants and flowers. Men who participated in the study generated 15% more ideas, whilst women generated more creative, flexible solutions to problems when plants and flowers were present.

With this in mind, we thought we’d share with you the top 5 office plants requested by our clients.

1.       Sansevieria Fernwood or Sansevieria Mikado

Sansevieria is a genus of about 70 species of flowering plants, native to Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia. Common names include snake plant, mother-in-law’s tongue, devil’s tongue, jinn’s tongue, bow string hemp and snake tongue. These are great air purifiers, making them perfect for offices.

2.       Succulents

These plants have thick and fleshy leaves which are used to retain water in the arid climates where they are native. The word “succulent” comes from the Latin word sucus, meaning juice, or sap. They come in a variety of sizes, colours and shades, which can allow for many beautiful combinations.

3.       Phalaenopsis Orchid

Also known as moth orchids, phalaenopsis is one of the most popular indoor orchids and is native to southern China, Taiwan, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, and Queensland. These elegant plants make a real impact on an office environment, and are fairly hard to kill – great for a busy office!

4.       Ficus Ginseng (bonsai)

Ginseng bonsai are also known as ficus retusa, Banyan fig or ficus ginseng. Bonsai art appeared over a millennium ago in the Chinese Empire and was then known as Penzai. It was later adapted by the Japanese and its popularity spread all across South-East Asia. These are probably the most famous and easily recognised bonsai trees and are easy to care for.

5.       Dracaena Lemon & Lime (branched)

Native throughout Africa and also known as ‘Dragon Tree Lemon and Lime’, their brightly coloured leaves are a sight for sore eyes in a dreary office on a Monday morning. These plants can get quite tall; we recommend placing one or two around the corners of your office so that they are visible without taking up too much room. 

Think of your interior designs as investments in your staff – you’ll start to see some returns when their productivity increases. Improving the atmosphere of your office has never been easier, there are so many varieties and styles of planting available.  So if you like the look of these ever popular favourites, you’re looking for something different, or you have haven’t a clue where to start, contact us to find out more about our office plants for hire and our selection of flowers for offices, we’ll help you pick out the perfect plants for you.

CO2 Levels in Offices Are ‘Damaging UK Productivity’

Mixed planting in black planters

Competitiveness and productivity in the workplace are of paramount importance, with more emphasis on this than ever as the outcome of Brexit looms on the horizon. Research shows that the UK is lagging behind in the productivity tables, currently 26.2% lower than Germany and 22.8% lower than France based on GDP per hour worked. Whilst solving the productivity puzzle is an ongoing issue, a recent study into UK indoor office environments has considered environmental factors for the first time.

This headline-grabbing study found that employee performance declines when CO2 levels are high and also creates the impression of a stuffy office environment among many workers. With businesses wanting to boost their productivity, understanding how carbon dioxide impacts your employees’ work life is crucial.

As we look for solutions to this problem, one simple thing to consider is the inclusion of beautiful, lush plants.  These are not just something that is nice to look at – though biophilia tells us we love the sight of living things and crave to be in contact with the natural world – they’re also effective for purifying and oxygenating the air.

The Study

The research commissioned by Emcor, was carried out over a two-year initiative led by academics at Oxford Brookes University and LCMB Building Performance, and supported by Innovate UK, a government agency which aims to boost economic innovation. Several workplaces were tested over a period of two years, with sensors monitoring fluctuating CO2 levels during this time. Employees were sent numeral, proofreading and Stroop tests three times a day to complete. Read the full study here.

The results of the study corroborate the idea that the more carbon dioxide there is in the air, the lower the productivity. Employees worked 60% faster with lower levels of carbon dioxide and their test scores improved by up to 12%.

Sanseviera in red container and ivy plants in an office

The Importance of Oxygen in the Office

Poorly ventilated offices can have an average carbon dioxide level of 1000 ppm (or parts per million). In some meeting rooms, this can go up to 3000 ppm, as many people use them, and they’re often sealed, smaller environments. To put these figures into perspective, keep in mind that our outdoor environment tends to have a COconcentration of 405 ppm.

But how exactly can high levels of carbon dioxide impact your office? An increased intake of CO2 can actually lead to poor decision-making, and thinking processes this means that people’s mental capacity decreases. Reaction times are also slower, so employees may find it challenging to react properly and swiftly to things such as a fire evacuation or even simple, everyday tasks. CO2 tends to increase tiredness as well, meaning your employees will not be at their best and find it harder to cope with workloads and stresses. All of this contributes to a low-productivity environment.

Oxygen is fundamental for the optimal functioning of our bodies. Our cells use both glucose and oxygen, and brain function quickly declines when we don’t take in enough oxygen.  It is commonplace that office windows are sealed, and not able to be opened, this is often for safety and security reasons as much as to prevent impairment of AC efficiency.  And, as air pollution increases, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many offices across the nation suffer from lower percentages of oxygen and higher CO2 in the air.

To compound this problem further, UK office workers only spend an average of fifteen minutes outside in addition to their daily commute, so they are not exposed to much time in ‘fresh’ air, getting much-needed oxygen, on a daily basis.

Best Oxygen-Producing Plants for the Office

How can you get more oxygen into your office?  One simple solution is to add oxygen-producing and air-cleaning plants into the workspace. Plants are ideal for increasing air quality and nurturing the health and well-being of your employees. The following are just a few of the best indoor plants for boosting productivity in your office:

Areca Palm

This beautiful plant stands out for its ability to remove dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene from the air, resulting in a purer office environment. Studies show that if you were to add four shoulder-height Areca palms per person to your office, and assuming the space was completely sealed off from the outside, everyone would still have enough oxygen to survive on during the day.

Areca Palm in Blue Pot

Snake Plant

Also called Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, this plant is highly efficient in transforming CO2 into oxygen at night. It also has the fantastic ability to purify the air by removing substances like benzene, formaldehyde, xylene, toluene and trichloroethylene. So, not only would your employees benefit from more oxygen, but the air would also be cleaner.

Peace Lily

Another plant that is perfect for cleaning the air is the Peace Lily. This species flourishes best in the shade, making it ideal for indoor environments, including your office. They’re also low maintenance, needing to be watered only once per week. You should never let the soil dry out and must use only chlorine-free water but, apart from that, this is an incredibly easy plant to take care of – perfect for a busy office. Peace lilies also remove acetone, ammonia, benzene and other harmful substances from the air.

The benefits of having several of these plants in the office are better air quality and beautiful flowers, as the peace lily blooms periodically.

There are many other office plants that will perfectly complement your workspace and elevate your current décor. If you’re looking to grow your productivity, make sure your employees can work in an environment with clean air. Our plants don’t just look great, they will also improve the air quality of your office, boosting your employees’ productivity. Have a look at how our beautiful plants can transform an office space by browsing through our case studies.

Contact us  today to get a free plant design and quotation.