From where you’re sitting at your desk – or your kitchen table, spare room or cupboard under the stairs – can you see a plant?
Today marks the start of Houseplant Week UK, which got me thinking about my own leafy housemates. Having a lovely view of the great outdoors is fabulous, of course. If you’re working from home currently, you might have the joy of a garden or nearby open space to gaze out on. But is there an actual houseplant within your immediate vicinity? If not, it’s time to get more green.
It’s been widely believed for years that plants really add something useful to the office environment. More than just a bit of greenery to break up the expanse of PCs and printers, science boffins have found that plants offer a host of mental and physical health benefits.
Enhanced productivity, creativity and attendance have been credited to our photosynthetic friends, along with less sickness, better air quality and reduced noise levels.
But there’s another benefit I’ve noticed after seven years as a home-based freelancer. If you’re temporarily working from home, new to remote working or have just started your own business, you may be missing the companionship and camaraderie of colleagues.
In that case, a houseplant is the perfect addition to your little team, particularly if you don’t have any pets or other household members at home during the day. Not only do plants give you somebody to legitimately talk to (it’s good for them, just ask the Duke of Cornwall), they also need care, attention and consideration in the same way that other humans do when they share your workspace.
Missing the communal tea round? That’s a good reminder to check whether the plants need a drink.
Missing the tedious fights over air conditioning or heating controls? You may think that, being master of all you survey, you’re in control of the environment. But if your little green buddy is drying out or wilting away, you need to start thinking about the team again and not just number one.
Missing the daily debate over which radio station to choose? Over the years, experiments – with varying degrees of credibility – have suggested that classical music and jazz could boost plants’ growth. Rock music, however, could have the opposite effect.
So, if you’re worried about becoming too disconnected from your fellow humans while working at home, get a houseplant!
Sadly though, houseplants tend to come home with me to die. They often don’t last very long, despite (or perhaps, because of) my loving attentions.
No one wants to be responsible for murdering their team members. So it's lucky that TV gardener David Domoney, founder of Houseplant Week UK, has loads of useful information on his website, including a list of 'hard to kill' houseplants.