Here Come The Plant Police

Posted on Jun 6, 2019
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Does this indoor plant look like a threat to you? Photo: Pixabay

Does this indoor plant look like a threat to you? Photo: Pixabay

It’s been our mission at Good Earth Plant Company for more than 40 years to improve peoples’ lives through the beauty, health, wellbeing, and environmental benefits living plants bring into all the spaces around you. From a simple plant in a striking container to a complicated living wall structure, it’s our passion as well as our mission. Even after all these years, I still get excited about our work every day.

In the last 10 years, people have embraced the benefits of indoor plants and the principles of biophilic design. I’m so excited about the enthusiasm our current generation of young adults has for plants. They love having plants in their homes and at their workspaces. They show them off on social media. They understand how plants can improve their health both mentally and physically.

It’s hard for me to imagine anyone finding something negative about having living plants in the workplace. So I was stunned when I found out what’s happening in Tallahassee, Florida. Here come the Plant Police.

Good Earth Plant Company believes indoor plants in the workplace are as essential in the workplace as technology. Photo: Stocksnap/Creative Commons

Good Earth Plant Company believes indoor plants in the workplace are as essential in the workplace as technology. Photo: Stocksnap/Creative Commons

I don’t think it is a coincidence the enthusiasm for indoor plants developed at the same time the open office floor plan took over. Private office spaces have disappeared. In some workplaces, people don’t even have their own desks. Plants help improve the environment by cleaning the air, adding humidity, blocking and absorbing noise and distractions, and creating a sense of calm. People who work where there are plants are happier and more productive.

Workers at the Florida Department of Management Services bring plants to decorate their desks and offices. They have ferns, palms, succulents, and indoor plants. They were informed in a May 16 memo some of their co-workers have complained, so a new “plant policy” is being created to help resolve the issues.

The 800 employees were told this: “DMS is committed to provide cost efficient, accessible, clean and safe work environments for all. However, if safety and/or health concerns arise before policy is fully established, we may ask that plants be removed from the work place.”

It's not rocket science, really: humble plants like this Pothos can improve worker productivity. Photo: Julien Gong Min

It’s not rocket science, really: humble plants like this Pothos can improve worker productivity – and it’s a good choice for people with allergies. Photo: Julien Gong Min

Never mind all of the scientific evidence about plants cleaning the air of toxins and improving workplace performance. And don’t you think with all the workplace threats in the news it would be a priority to improve the mental health of employees? Plants can help – it’s science!

But it is true plants can suffer from infestations of pests, or create accidents from watering too close to electronics. I can say though in the 41 years Good Earth Plant Company has been in business, I don’t ever recall finding any mold, or hearing a complaint that a client found mold on one of our plants. This seems to be an unfounded concern in my experience.

Yes, water damage from sloppy care can hurt desks and other furniture. And yes, if employees have to take care of their plants and leave them to drain in the lunchroom sink, it could be legitimately annoying.

But when plants are properly cared for, the benefits SO FAR outweigh any small annoyances. Proper care is the key. This is where an experienced indoor Plantscaping service can help. We know how to prevent and treat pests, water safely, and catch problems long before they start affecting anyone at the next desk.

Sometimes replica plants are the right choice, Our project for a large insurance company’s office features custom designed and built chevron shaped wall trays filled with mood, reindeer and lycopodium moss and replica tillandsia, sedum and string of pearls.

There are places where high quality replica plants can stand in for the real thing. It’s becoming more common to see a mix of replica and real plants side by side – the new replica plants are that good. They don’t need watering and insects don’t like chewing on them. This would be far better than banning all plants!

Or maybe it’s time for your workplace to make a bigger statement with a living wall or moss wall in shared spaces for everyone to enjoy. Our professional horticulture technicians can take care of the maintenance after installation – it’s an ideal solution.

Back in Florida, management says it might have to ask workers to remove plants if they aren’t being properly maintained or if they pose “health risks” to others. The reasons seem ridiculous but we do get the point. Some people don’t know how to properly care for their personal plants. There can be problems for people with allergies or compromised immune systems.

But plants shouldn’t disappear from the workplace! People are more aware than ever that plants are good for them. There will always be naysayers, but maybe we can address their concerns through professionally maintained office plants, or through a creative solution involving replica plants or moss walls.

Please, don’t let the Plant Police ruin a good thing! If you need help figuring out a way to include plants and nature in your workplace, Good Earth Plant Company can help you with green solutions that will keep everyone happy.