Spanish Moss is a great groundcover for interior plants, providing some insulation against colder temperatures, some water retention benefits, as well as cosmetically covering the bare soil around the base of the plant.
We actually don’t use real Spanish moss in our plant installations. Fibrex Moss is a much more ecofriendly alternative.
Fibrex moss is made from unused wood fibers–it looks exactly like Spanish moss but instead it is finely shredded grey fibers. It’s not yanked from trees and bagged to be sold commercially; instead it’s a recyclable by product of wood pulp production. We buy it by the case, but you can purchase small amounts of it on Amazon, Ebay, etc.
Be careful with Fibrex moss–be sure to just put a thin layer on the top of the plant, not clumped up in big pieces that are inches thick. This can keep the top soil on the plant from drying out between waterings, as well as become a breeding ground for insects such as Fungus Gnats. A little of it goes a long way!
Regular potting soil is far too rich to use by itself in transplanting office plants. It’s overly dense, loamy, and if you don’t use a soil additive, your plants are highly likely to develop root rot.
Perlite is an amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian. It occurs naturally and has the unusual property of greatly expanding when heated sufficiently. It is an industrial mineral and a commercial product useful for its low density after processing.
It’s extremely useful in transplanting interior plants, because it will allow the roots to grow and expand without being inhibited by clumps of wet soil. Potting soil naturally retains water and perlite, vermiculite, or some other additive is imperative to keep it aerated properly.
We usually do a 80/20 or even 70/30 mix soil to perlite–we don’t actually scientifically measure it, our way of mixing it is “cookies and cream–more cookie than cream”–meaning perlite is snowy white when mixed in with dark potting soil and resembles cookies and cream ice cream and if you go to mix it yourself, you’ll see exactly what I mean.
A visit to this glasshouse is definitely on my bucket list. I’ve seen some beautiful indoor garden displays, but this one looks spectacular.
The plants here are well established, and like all plants, given the right environmental conditions, they’ll thrive. As I mentioned, keeping the right light levels and airflow is crucial in any indoor atrium such as this (and though it’s classified as a botanical garden, it’s still just a giant atrium, in effect).
They even have an indoor lily pond! How cool is that! Water lilies are simply beautiful–I can’t think of a more peaceful image than a pond with water lilies gently swaying with the currents.
If you’re local here in New England, I highly recommend a visit to the Montreal Botanical Gardens; Montreal is a fantastic city, and the gardens are worth the trip alone. I’m planning on doing a separate blog post on them at a later date.
Sometimes space in offices is tight, and to place plants, you need an alternative solution.
These handy rectangle planters come with special mounting hardware that allows them to fit neatly on to cubicle walls. With few exceptions, they’re adjustable enough to fit any width cubicle. They set the plants at eye level and add greenery and life where there wouldn’t be any room for floor plants.
Pothos plants, or Epipremnum aureum are the workhorses of the interior plant industry.
Of all the plants we care for in office plant accounts, pothos is most numerous. Shown left are the Marble Queen variety on top and the brilliant chartreuse Pothos Neon on bottom.
Pothos is pronounced “Paw-thoes”; not “Poe-thoes”, (accenting the long O)–sorry to digress here, but just because I’ve been in the industry so long it still irks me when people pronounce this plant name incorrectly, probably because I hear many people in the interior foliage industry pronouncing it incorrectly, and they should know better.
Anyway–pothos is a fantastic, adaptable plant. There’s a reason you see them often in houses, offices, and buildings, and it’s because this plant is amazingly suitable to indoor use. It tolerates anything except total darkness–even surviving in basements lit with a minimal amount of fluorescent light.
It also tolerates neglect pretty easily–underwatering results in droopy vines that perk back up when watered, though you may experience some drought stress and the plant losing some of it’s leaves.
Contrary to what people think, you should pinch the runners on these plants back frequently. Letting them get super long to the point where you need to tack them up with thumbtacks all over your office cubicle may look cool, but it’s really not healthy for the plant. In order to keep it’s head, meaning the part closest to it’s soil in the grow pot, big and bushy, you want to cut these runners back frequently, which will force new growth from the root ball.
Take those runners and root them in a glass of water. They root quickly and easily, and transplant them when they’ve got a good base of roots going, and you’ve got a whole new plant made from cuttings!
Like all indoor plants, the most pervasive insect on pothos is mealybug, but these can easily be wiped off it’s broad leaves (be sure to check underneath!) and treated with a topical like Neem Oil and a systemic pesticide such as Merit.
Aglaonema is a genus of plants in the arum family, Araceae. They are native to tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and New Guinea.They are known commonly as Chinese evergreens.
We use these plants extensively in office plant installations around New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
There are countless varieties based on leaf color; Silver Bay, BJ Freedman, Maria, Cutlass, Silver Queen…They all share the same characteristics, though. Generally they have slender, spear shaped leaves and grow in bush form. They tolerate lower light conditions well and are fairly resistant to insects and diseases, with mealybug being the main insect predator and erwinia being the only disease that they tend to come down with on the long truck ride up from nurseries in Florida.
Care is pretty simple–like all plants, they like to dry out between watering, so a good drink every couple of weeks is best. They like low light and regular pruning, which will keep their stalks from getting too tall and leggy and force new stalks and leaves from the root ball.
Here at EnviroGreenery, we just call them “Ags” and depend on them greatly for low light plant installations–they’re a workhorse!
Your floor plant looks a lot different in its home environment.
Recently, I got back from vacation in Jamaica, where these babies grow naturally in the wild.
It’s always eye opening to see our humble office plants grow to the size of gargantuan trees and bushes in their native environment.
The Caribbean is the perfect environment for plants: Consistently warm, humid, and breezy–they get plenty of the three elements they most need for growth .
King Sago Palm Bush (more like a mini jungle)
Often times clients might ask me:
“Why do the bottom leaves on plants turn yellow or brown?”
“Why has it lost leaves?”
Dracaena Reflexa bush
As you can see on this Dracaena Fragrans to the left, the bottom leaves show signs of wear and browning. This is a normal part of the plant’s growth pattern. The growth hormones in tropical plants are concentrated near the tips of the stalks/branches, so as the plant generates more tissue, the older, more worn leaves naturally turn yellow/brown and die off. In an office environment, we remove these for you as part of regular maintenance.
But in a rainforest, they’d just drop naturally. So don’t panic if you see some brown or dying leaves on the bottom of your plants in between our visits. Unless it’s widespread on the individual plant, it’s a normal part of the plant’s growth pattern.
Mammoth White Bird of Paradise
Anyway, it’s always a real treat to see our office plants up here used as outdoor landscaping plants down there. This arrangement of neoregelia bromeliads around this fountain was really impressive–the size of them was about 6 times the size of the ones we use in flower bowls and flower rotations. The color on these were a little past, but if you’re a plant geek like myself, just the scale of them is impressive.
So in general, remember that plants here in offices in New England do the best they can in the conditions that they’re in. Grown in sunny Florida, we unceremoniously sleeve them up, pack them on a truck, and ship them far, far away from the climate they’re used to. With a little TLC (and the right fertilizer!) they can thrive in an office environment.
By tlannan2|2019-05-03T07:32:51+00:00May 3rd, 2019|Plant Care|Comments Off on Office Plants in Nature
One of the great innovations in Interior Landscaping to come around in the last decade or so is Artificial River Rock.
These are hollow core, plastic rocks that resemble real river rock. They’re incredibly lifelike, (as lifelike as rocks can be!) and come in a variety of colors, though we tend to use black the most, and white the second most, because the white look great as a contrast against dark green plants.
They’re primarily used as a top dressing for plants, and a real modern alternative to moss or worse, (ugh) bark mulch. We use them in indvidual plantings and plants as well as top dressing in small planter beds.
By the square foot they are a little on the expensive side, but they’re much lighter and less messier than real river rock.