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UrbanStems Gives Expert Advice on Plants in the Office

We talk with the flora delivery startup’s category manager on all things leafy and green.

As you stroll into the office of your new job, you suddenly panic and think, “Did I just get transported to the jungle from Jumanji?” But no, you’re just starting at a company who favors your health and wellbeing, as they have brought in lots and lots of office plants.

Biophilic design, which “seeks to connect our inherent need to affiliate with nature in the modern built environment,” is all the rage right now. And if you don’t have the budget to hire a full-time horticulturist like Amazon, we put together a series on why plants matter with suggestions from the experts on how to go about greening up your office.

From the greenery gurus of UrbanStems

UrbanStems Cofounders
UrbanStems cofounders Jeff Sheely and Ajay Kori with colleague

Gabrielle Dalvet: We’ve heard news articles, studies, trends pointing to the fact that indoor office plants are good for you. But from your perspective, how would you express the importance or benefit of them?

Tugce Menguc (former Category Manager): There are scientific benefits having to do with cleaner air and reduce carbon dioxide, but when I see plants in a work environment, it signals to me that the people care. If a company like Amazon invests in green spaces or in decorating, it shows that they are trying to create a better environment for their employees. If an individual brightens their space with plants, it shows that they are engaged with work.  

UrbanStems Interview Instagram Quote v2
And work? via UrbanStems on Instagram

GD: How do you feel about the current trend of office plants, like Amazon’s HQ spheres?

TM: I think plants in the office help you pause and remember there is something bigger than yourself that is constantly happening outside of your office walls. Some succulents I’ve seen look like they are out of a sci-fi movie, and it reminds me how expansive the world is and how little most of us are connected to it.

The installation of Amazon’s HQ sphere’s has several reasons for being created (an obvious one seems to be like a company mascot, an “Amazon” forest) but my interpretation of it is to pull the employees of Amazon out of their day-to-day headspace and remind them of the possibilities that can occur through creativity and iteration.

the-spheres-amazon-seattle-glass-domes-plants_dezeen_2364_col_6-1704x959
Amazon’s The Spheres in Seattle. via Dezeen

Most of the plant varieties are just small tweaks from a previously existing plant, which reminds me of all the varieties of consumer goods out there. Small iteration creates an entirely new product, and you can see this in plant varieties as well.

UrbanStems Tugce Menguc Quote

GD: What are some quick tips you could share on picking out the right office plants for your entire company (type, location, cost)? What are some of the aspects one should consider?

TM: When picking plants in an office environment, access to light has the most influence. If you are sitting away from windows and are only able to give your plant fluorescent or artificial light, then I would recommend the following “low light plants”:  Pothos, ZZ plant, Snake Plant, Chinese Evergreen, and Junipers.

The Hudson juniper tree from UrbanStems
The Hudson juniper tree from UrbanStems

If you happen to have a decent amount of sunlight at work, then the world is your oyster. I recommend picking plants that may still be relatively bulletproof, like succulents, cacti, parlor palms – which don’t need a lot of water (no problem if you are on a week-long business trip) just so long as they have ample sunlight.

The Sanford wooden planter with succulents
The Sanford wooden planter with succulents from UrbanStems

Deep green leaves show the plant’s ability to photosynthesize more efficiently and can make the best use of low light conditions.

Low light and less water will mean your plant will grow slower, allowing you to keep plants around in smaller spaces for longer.

Soil: Most plants will be potted in the soil that is appropriate for the plant. Fertilizers will not be necessary. Just make sure your soil has some sort of space to release extra water (making sure the soil is planted with pebbles or moss at the bottom or has a hole on the bottom and a saucer to collect extra water).

GD: Green thumbs: some people are born with ‘em, some aren’t. What are some ways to keep these precious office plants alive, especially in a work enviro?

TM: When living in low light environments, plants need less water. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again.  

Watering when you are away, you can create a wicking system (just have a string or sturdy piece of paper that dips into a water reservoir and travels to the bottom of the soil)  or purchase watering globes online.

Amazon Watering Globes
Watering globes on Amazon

If your plants need more light, invest in a CFL bulb (compact fluorescent) which fits into any normal light socket, in a “cool white” – easily bought from Amazon. These bulbs generate more light in the blue and red spectrum, which is best for foliage and flowering plants. Giving your plant 10-16 hours of light is best. Buying a lighting timer can help you set it and forget it.


What are you waiting for? Turn your office into Fern Gully. And view our other posts in this series here and here.

Sources: VecteezyUrbanStems, Amazon, Dezeen